May 9, 2020 — The reopening of recreational areas and specifically the Port of Siuslaw was the singular agenda item listed for the special meeting of the Port of Siuslaw Commissioners on Thursday. The meeting was held virtually and scheduled to discuss the possible easing of restrictions on the use of the port’s boat launch.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has started the process of reopening many sectors of the state, including the many recreational areas that are located along the coast. The target date to begin this step is May 15.
There are several goals, related to testing and infection rates, that will be the main metric used to determine the extent and speed with which all of the state’s parks and lakes will be opened.
Earlier this year, Port Commissioners discussed the initial closing of the launch, deciding that the risk of drawing anglers from other areas was high. The health of port employees and neighbors of the facility would be a serious concern.
At that time, the commissioners decided to close the launch. Now, that decision has been revisited.
According to Port Manager David Huntington, he wants to reopen both the port’s launch and the campground as soon as possible.
However, he is using the guidance from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), as well as state and county recommendations, to plot a course to a safe reopening of the marina.
“We are hoping to reopen our boat launch on May 15,” Huntington said. “People are still allowed to recreate, that’s my understanding, and we closed our boat launch anticipating that it would draw crowds from out of the area. I don’t think it was ever mandated to close boat launches and as far as I know the county left theirs open the whole time.”
Another factor that plays into the opening of the launch is the decision by ODFW to shift the dates of one of the most popular fishing seasons of the year.
“That’s something that a lot of ports are doing now — figuring out how they are going to open before all-depths halibut season begins on May 21,” Huntington said, noting that the date was pushed back one week. “Also, we are looking at other ports to see what they are doing, and most other ports will be reopening their boat facilities on May 15. So we are trying to open up with the rest of the ports, so we don’t have that influx of people from other areas coming here to fish.”
Huntington was also clear that state mandated social distancing standards would be monitored, with possible action taken if there are issues with the individuals or groups using the facilities.
“Once we open the boat launch if social distancing seems to be a problem, we will close it,” he said.
For more information, visit portofsiuslaw.com.