Recreationalists will get their last chance this weekend to visit Kingsley Reservoir Campground before it closes for more than a year due to an irrigation project.
The campground and staging area shuts down Tuesday, Sept. 5 and reopens around May 1, 2019.
A reservoir expansion by Farmers Irrigation District will flood the campground, raising the dam by about 11 feet, boosting capacity for valley agriculture that taps into the water supply.
The big pool will crest its banks and flood about 16 acres of neighboring county forest land, including the popular Kingsley Reservoir Campground. From there, the county plans to shift the campground from the east bank to the southwest side of the reservoir.
The reservoir expansion work itself will begin this month and continue through 2018, according to Henry Buckalew with the Hood River County Forestry Department.
The forestry department is preparing an Oregon Parks and Recreation Department grant application requesting funds to help construct a new campground.
In May, the county contracted with Jerry Davis Consulting and John Stewart, landscape architect, to develop a conceptual campground plan for the replacement grounds, which has been considered for the area on the opposite bank of the flooded spot.
Doug Thiesies, county forest manager, presented several options for the new campground to the Hood River County Board of Commissioners on Aug. 21.
One option includes 45-50 campsites, effectively doubling the current amount. The full buildout concept also calls for three group camping sites, a 10-tent site, future cabin sites, a picnic shelter for either day use or for campers, and an improved boat ramping, according to staff reports.
Via the plan, a walking/biking path would circle the reservoir at water level.
The idea of using a full-time host came up at the meeting, though Thiesies noted park maintenance would be more basic — and designs more rustic — than Tucker or Toll Bridge county parks, which have maintained lawns and restrooms. The more popular parks have permanent features, unlike the forest feel at Kingsley, he explained.
In December 2016, the board of commissioners supported the FID project, which aims to provide water supply for future irrigation needs in the lower Hood River Valley. The process will require a land exchange with FID, which hasn’t yet come before the panel for approval.
Since last year, the forestry department has managed the county’s Kingsley Reservoir property holdings.
Kingsley is about nine miles southwest from the city of Hood River. A network of county-owned forest trails surrounds the lake, offering terrain for from hikers, bikers, ATV vehicle riders and campers.
At the last board meeting, commissioners asked staff to bring back specifics on costs for the existing park and improvements.
Details of the new park, and funding for ongoing maintenance, have been in the early stage. For more information, visit the forestry department tab at www.co.hood-river.or.us.