Kopachuck State Park master plan moves forward

Recreation: Officials will keep campground closed, work on ADA-accessible buildings

of the GatewayFebruary 26, 2014 

Trees that were affected with laminated root rot have been removed from Kopachuck State Park. A new master plan is being reviewed that would keep the park day-use only. The campground has been closed indefinitely since the trees were found to be unhealthy.

LEE GILES III/GATEWAY FILE PHOTO

The master plan for Kopachuck State Park now envisions a day-use function only.

The park will stay open without a campground in the future due to laminated root rot issues with the park’s trees. Clear-cutting will end, but trees that are considered to be dangerous or in an area where new building will happen will be felled, project coordinator Brian Yearout said.

The master plan is coming from a 2010 planning process named the Classification and Management Plan, or CAMP.

“The process never really finished out,” Yearout said.

When root rot was discovered, the campgrounds were closed indefinitely. It’s not safe to have campers sleep under trees that could potentially fall, Yearout said.

“There will be some tree removal, but it will be based on where we need to put new facilities,” he said. “And, obviously, danger trees will continue to be felled.”

The master plan had its first public meeting on Feb. 11. Elements pulled from the 2010 CAMP were presented. It was a time for park planners to hear from the public, Yearout said.

Bruce Dees and Associates, a landscape architecture firm, is consulting on the project. Dees said one of the priorities is a set of design standards to bring “architectural continuity” to the park.

Historically, work has been done on a volunteer basis — by Eagle Scouts, for example. Dees said the set of standards would offer guidelines at the park.

There’s also an effort to make the area ADA compliant, Dees said. Specifically, the master plan would set in motion ADA-accessible trails and buildings.

Dees said he knows many people have childhood memories from events that took place at Kopachuck. The new uses and standards will equip the park for many more years, he said.

“It’s a wonderful park,” Dees said. “It’s a great asset for this entire community.”

Improvements will include updating the kitchen and picnic shelter area; improving the trail system; increasing water access and installing new play equipment and signage.

The signage would inform visitors about the root rot problem, the geologic history of the park and more, Dees said.

An ad hoc committee will meet several times to discuss the master plan before the next public meeting in April.

The committee consists of park ranger Janet Shonk, planners and members of the consulting firm Bruce Dees and Associates, as well as representatives from Boy Scout Troop 282, Harbor WildWatch, Preserve Our Parks, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Washington Water Trails Association, Kopachuck Middle School and the neighborhood near the park.

Dees said the committee is still looking for a representative from the Peninsula School District.

The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. April 23 at Kopachuck Middle School.

Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at karen.miller@gateline.com. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_karen.

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