The National Forest Service plans to block vehicle access to a popular gravel bar on the West Fork of the Humptulips River through proposed improvements to Forest Service Road 2203040 that include a turnaround and parking lot. State Representative Brian Blake is opposed to some of those changes, he tells KBKW “There’s a small rivulet that has been diverted and now runs down the access road to the gravel bar, and they’re using it as an excuse to cut off access, and that’s what I’m opposed to.”
The $12,000 Forest Service grant application says they need to block the access to restore fish habitat for salmon and trout apparently seen in the mud puddle for the past three years. “Oh no I’ve never seen salmon there in my life, no. Why would they do that?” I spoke with Jerry Lillybridge in front of his 24 foot camper responsibly parked on the gravel bar Sunday. He said he and his family have camped there for years, and while he hasn’t run over any fish that he can recall “Here’s what I’ve seen in the last three days, the otters, we’ve seen the ducks, yesterday I was up here getting firewood and I saw a red hawk take a grouse out and I’ve never seen nothing like that in my life, right in front of us.”
Lillybridge worked in the Grays Harbor County Auditor’s office for years, and for years he passed State parks, camp sites, and groomed fishing outlets on his way out here. “You can’t go nowhere and enjoy this without a big fee, or having a lot of people around you. I’m 41 miles from my house in Aberdeen to right here, and look at this – this is remote. There’s nothing more beautiful than here,” adding that most campers clean up after themselves, but; “If they don’t and most of them always leave it clean, I clean it up anyway because I don’t want the Forest Service to ever shut something down because I was messy.”
Meanwhile Blake worries “When we loose that gravel bar, and they won’t commit to preserving access to the downstream gravel bar – and I believe personally that’s critical for the launching of the drift boats especially because they can be anywhere from 300 to 600 pounds. So I think it’s important that we preserve that public access, for those boats, to the public river.” Blake added that “Not everybody can afford a forest pass, not everybody can afford a travel trailer. But having the public be able to pull out there and have a picnic, or spend the night in the summertime, I think is one of the reasons we live here.
While it won’t be specifically addressed at these meetings, the public has a few more chances to provide their input on a sustainable roads plan for the Forest Service this month. The next meeting starts at 4 this afternoon in the Shelton Civic Center. They’ll be at the Aberdeen Rotary Log Pavilion Thursday afternoon.