Puyallup Herald

Puyallup River boat launch to open this spring for fishing, emergency use

Riverside Park in Sumner will be the home to a new boat launch this spring. The launch is meant to increase safer, easier access to the Puyallup River.
Riverside Park in Sumner will be the home to a new boat launch this spring. The launch is meant to increase safer, easier access to the Puyallup River. allison.needles@puyallupherald.com

Thanks to a new boat launch, fishing and kayaking on the Puyallup River will get easier later this year.

Located at Riverside Park, 7926 Riverside Road, the launch is the first one proposed by the Pierce County Outdoor Sports and Recreation Council and is meant to provide better access to the Puyallup River. It’s expected to be completed some time this spring.

More Puyallup River launches are to be added between Orting and Puyallup.

“If in the future we can have at least four access points, that’ll be a good thing,” Pierce County Councilwoman Pam Roach said.

Currently, there are no formal boat ramps on the Puyallup River. Anglers often have to forge their own paths down to the water.

Several potential launch sites were identified by the county, but the Riverside Park launch is a top priority.

“This one was chosen due to the ease of implementation (ADA compliance, and handicap access, least impact on environment), and proximity to recreation areas,” Central Pierce Fire & Rescue spokesman Darrin Shaw sent in an email to The Herald.

The launch is already partially constructed, but work was paused in June when additional permits were needed.

The boat launch is “intended for use by the fishermen and recreational boaters who will use this as a hand launch most suitable for drift boats, kayaks and inflatables,” according to a Pierce County email sent to The Puyallup Herald.

David Patrick is a member of the Coastal Conservation Association Pierce County Chapter who’s been fishing in the area for more than 25 years. Patrick helped bring the idea of boat ramps to the Outdoor Sports and Recreation Council.

The Riverside Park boat ramp is strictly aimed at drift fishing — no powerboats, Patrick said.

He added that more boat launches would not only mean more access points to the river, but safer ones. Each boat launch will be handicap accessible, and emergency responders will have full access.

“Each of our boat launches are supported by Central Pierce Fire & Rescue,” Patrick said. “They have had no official access to the Puyallup River.”

East Pierce Fire & Rescue, Central Pierce Fire and Orting Fire departments participate in joint water rescue trainings. Central Pierce averages three to four rescues on the Puyallup River each year.

“These joint trainings and the additional boat ramps allow us to respond quickly and effectively to any point on the river from areas upstream of Orting to the City of Tacoma city limits,” Shaw said in an email.

First responders have been involved in planning the boat ramps since the Outdoor Sports and Recreation Council formed in 2017.

As of now, the funds have been secured to build up to two more launches, Patrick said.

The county is looking at potential locations and hopes the boat launches will come with an economic boost in outdoor recreation.

In 2017, a boat launch was proposed at North Levee Road along the Puyallup River, near state Route 167. That project was put on hold until there’s a better understanding of the property needed by Washington State Department of Transportation to expand Route 167 to Tacoma.

A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held for the opening of the Riverside Park boat launch. A date has not yet been set.