Chehalis River users will have a new small-boat access site just south of Montesano this week. The state Department of Natural Resources is building the river access site on Preachers Slough Road.
The road is closed while the work is being done, but the interpretive trail and parking near state Route 107 remain open.
Department managers expect the site to be open by Friday.
The project is located within the department-managed Chehalis River Surge Plain Natural Area Preserve.
The project will improve existing public access to the Chehalis in the natural area preserve. The access site will be suitable for small boats, canoes and kayaks. The new site also will help protect water quality and nearby wildlife habitat. The work also is intended improve the user experience at the site, said a department news release.
“This is something meant to provide access to the channels of the Chehalis in the surge plain,” said Birdie Davenport, natural areas manager for the Chehalis River Surge Plain.
The agency opted to make this a small-boat launch for multiple reasons, she said.
One is that there are existing motorized launches in the area, including one in Cosmopolis, the Mary’s River boat launch and one at Blue Slough.
“Those launches aren’t so great for launching small boats when you don’t want to be in the middle of all those motorized boats,” Davenport said.
“Also, a motorized boat launch requires a lot of space for parking, and we don’t have a lot of room at this site.”
The work is part of a three-year project to improve public access and habitat in the area. In May 2013, the department did road maintenance and made repairs to the parking area.
The department also built — with assistance from a state Department of Ecology and Washington Conservation Corps crew — most of a 1,900-foot shoreline trail that leads from the parking area to fishing spots along the river bank. Within the next six weeks, Davenport expects the final portions, including a wheelchair turnaround, to be completed.
Overall, the project will cost an estimated $270,000.
Funding for the launch project comes from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which is a state grant program managed by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640