JACKSON, Wyo. — Rivers are dynamic, they flow throughout the year, surging in the spring and trickling down to the fall. Gravity pulls them downhill, twisting and turning around obstructions, depositing soil, and scouring a path of least resistance.
What isn’t dynamic are boat ramps and public access sites. Boat ramps are built but once in a lifetime. They are the gateway for providing the public a means to the joys of water. Boat ramps need to function in a logical manner so that they are efficient, safe and durable.
The Wilson Boat Ramp is at the crossroads of our community. For years the site was simple and unassuming. But as the years have gone by, use has grown. Special interests have diversified. Twelve years ago, our community shared a vision for this site and passed SPET #8 – “The Snake Can’t Wait”. While much in the area has changed, the ramp improvements continue to wait. A pathway bridge has been built connecting cyclists and pedestrians across the river. What once was a gravel pit is now a community-focused park. The river has swallowed up the foot of the ramp and spit it back out.
Today, river users have a tight dredged eddy to launch from and land in. Most users launching at Wilson drag their boats upriver, over riprap and basalt boulders to line themselves up to make their move into the current. This is a highly trafficked boat ramp. Let’s be honest this happens dozens of times a day. From June through September, it is rare to see the eddy empty. This is a launch zone for fueling our souls and our economy.
Teton County-Jackson Parks & Recreation is poised to spend $700,000 this year giving the site a well-deserved facelift. At the Parks & Rec Open House on Aug. 10-11 they shared a vision. Many of the improvements suggested by river runners are coming, including one-way traffic flow, rigging zones, ADA parking, a pathway to the southwest levee, new toilets, and even a two-lane concrete plank ramp. However, we need a few more tweaks to make this site last for decades to come.
Snake River Fund believes that the levee needs to be terraced around the boat ramp. We need to eliminate the hazards for broken legs, damaged boats and injured river runners. Parks & Rec is taking comments until September 9, let them know they should do this once and do it right. Spend the money on the boat ramp not the road. The site design decisions made today will impact the quality of recreation for decades to come.
Submit comments at this link. Snake River Fund will continue to speak up for safe and efficient public access. But right now your voice will have an impact, please use it.