Friday, July 1, 2011/lk
The Port of Hood River Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to allow kiteboard landing and launching from part of the Hood River Event Site through July 31.
The Event Site, which is normally closed to landing and launching access for kiteboarders this time of year, had been opened for the sport earlier in June due to access issues caused by unusually high water in the Columbia River. An initial temporary allowance expired on June 10, but was extended to June 17 due to continued limited access and relatively low numbers of other users at the Event Site.
After recommendations by members of the Waterfront Recreation?Committee, numerous public comments and discussion by the port board at its regular pubic meeting Tuesday evening, the board voted to reopen access to the Event Site until Sunday, July 31.
The board also agreed to a provision that would allow Michael McElwee, port executive director, to end the arrangement sooner if the water goes down sufficiently for access to the sandbar.
At the Event Site, windsurfers and kiteboarders will be expected to share the area in a safe and respectful manner, with kiteboarders sticking to a layout on the east side of the area and windsurfers having open access to the west side.
Kiteboarding will be allowed in a "kiteboard box" designated by painted lines on the lawn. Spectators and other Event Site users are encouraged to exercise extreme caution and stay clear of this area at all times.
"This temporary action responds to pervasive high water conditions and the pressing need for an accessible launch site for kiteboarders," said McElwee. "Users of the Event Site should be extra careful to observe signage and stay clear of the 'box' when kiteboarding activities are underway. The safety of all users is the paramount concern of the port as we enter the more congested summer months," he added.
McElwee noted that the situation went "exceptionally well" this month before access expired, but that challenges will exist once more people start arriving in town.
Kiteboarding will be restricted from the Event Site this weekend due to?Windfest, an open-to-all annual event organized by the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association.
Another high-water contingency launch point was discussed in brief Tuesday as well, and the board voted to keep a June 30 deadline for landing and launching kite access at the marina swim beach. After that date, the permanent pump and dry area is still allowed at the east end of the marina beach, near the restroom, but kiteboarders will need to wade into the water to launch and land away from shore.
For a detailed drawing of the kiteboard zone, and for a variety of discussions regarding kiteboarding in the region, visit the popular blog called Northwest?Kiteboarding at www.nwkite.com.