Park personnel moved a boulder in front of the Fort Worden State Park boat ramp to enforce its closure. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

Park personnel moved a boulder in front of the Fort Worden State Park boat ramp to enforce its closure. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

Fort Worden State Park’s boat launch closed while permits are sought for maintenance work

PORT TOWNSEND — The Fort Worden State Park boat ramp has been closed indefinitely to motorized vehicle launching while State Parks staff apply for new permits to perform maintenance work.

The state Parks and Recreation Commission announced the closure Monday.

While the need for ramp maintenance is constant, State Parks Southwest Region Manager Ed Girard said staff discovered this summer that the department did not have active permits to do the required work.

He blamed staff cuts for causing State Parks to lose track of the permit schedules.

“The permits slipped through the cracks,” he said.

The closure is to prevent cars from getting stuck in sand that has built up on the ramp.

Non-motorized boat launching still will be permitted, although the ramp could be closed completely on days when construction equipment is working in the area.

Sand and forest debris are regularly deposited on the ramp and have to be cleaned off, particularly after storms, said State Parks spokeswoman Toni Droscher.

Girard expects it will take weeks to determine a timeline for the new permits, the requirements of which are steeper than they once were.

The permits have varying lifespans that require new applications every time they expire.

The work of applying for new permits has just begun, Droscher added.

A city of Port Townsend shoreline permit, state Department of Fish and Wildlife hydraulic project approval and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit are needed.

Fish spawning seasons, which occur at different times of the year, largely govern the timing of the permits and when the work can be performed, Droscher said.

Droscher said limitations on such activities as ramp maintenance are designed to avoid juvenile salmon migration periods and forage fish spawning seasons.

Sand lance spawn from November to February and surf smelt spawn on the coast and straits in late May through October.

Fort Worden State Park beaches have documented forage fish spawning for sand lance and surf smelt.

Sediment moves along the shoreline through a process known as littoral drift. Sand is deposited in the Fort Worden boat basin area because that process is interrupted by existing breakwaters.

State Parks staff have cleared the ramp of sand and debris about twice a week during the busy summer months.

In the winter, the agency has pulled out floating docks to protect them from storms.

Without the docks, the ramp doesn’t get much use, Droscher said.

Long term, State Parks is looking at other Fort Worden locations for the boat ramp that would be more sustainable — meaning it wouldn’t require so much cleanup of silt and other debris that can disturb the natural environment, Droscher added.

The launch area is located next to a beach area facing Admiralty Inlet, along Harbor Defense Way. It is directly across that roadway from a natural history exhibit building and next to the Port Townsend Science Center.

Until maintenance is complete, State Parks recommends that motorized boaters use ramps at the Boat Haven Marina in Port Townsend, Herb Beck Marina in Quilcene, Sequim Bay State Park, Fort Flagler State Park and Mystery Bay State Park.

The marinas in Port Townsend and Quilcene are both operated by the Port of Port Townsend. Information about those ramps is available at

For information about the others, visit


Reporter Mark Swanson can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5050, or at [email protected]

More in News

No one was hurt in a fire at the Port Townsend Paper Mill on Saturday afternoon. East Jefferson Fire Rescue firefighters were called to the mill at 2:40 p.m. after a blaze began in an enclosed conveyor belt carrying wood chips into the mill and spread into the sixth floor, according to fire district spokesperson Phyllis Speser. The fire sent a black cloud into the sky, according to reports. The blaze in the conveyor belt was put out by 3:16 p.m. and the sixth floor fire at 3:31 p.m., Speser said. The cause remained under investigation on Sunday. Assisting were Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue, Clallam County Fire District 3, Poulsbo Fire Department and Quilcene Fire Rescue. (East Jefferson Fire Rescue)
Blaze extinguished

No one was hurt in a fire at the Port Townsend Paper… Continue reading

An artist's rendering shows the expected view of the Jamestown Healing Clinic.
(Courtesy of the Jamestown Tribe)
Clallam County Fire District 3 officials look to move Dungeness Station 31 east away from a flood and tsunami zone. They’ve begun recruiting an architect to design new stations for Dungeness and Carlsborg Station 33. Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group
Clallam County Fire District 3 seeks architects for new fire stations

Carlsborg and Dungeness need upgrades, staff say

Forks federal distaster recovery center to remain open though Feb. 4

A federal disaster recovery center in Forks that was originally… Continue reading

Expansion approved for Sequim City Band’s rehearsal space

Sequim City Council members have unanimously approved the expansion of… Continue reading

Clallam County Sheriff’s Office seeks leads on coyote carcass dumping

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office seeks information about the killing… Continue reading

EYE ON CLALLAM: Kilmer to attend several government meetings

Government meetings throughout the county

Weekly flight operations scheduled

There will be field carrier landing practice operations for aircraft… Continue reading

Most Read