105-acres in rural Battle Ground will become Lower Daybreak Regional Park
CLARK COUNTY — During the scorching hot weekend we just had, Daybreak Park in Battle Ground was packed to capacity. In fact, they ended up having to close the gates in the middle of the day due to overcrowding.
The 77-acre park and boat launch along the East Fork of the Lewis River is a popular spot, especially when temperatures get into the 90’s and people look for a spot to cool off. Kids can often be seen swinging from the rope underneath Daybreak Road Bridge, splashing into the river below. But as the local population grows, so too do the demands for easily accessible outdoor recreation spots. That can have places like Daybreak and Lewisville packed to the gills on a hot day.
Help may finally be on the way.
Way back in 2002 Columbia Land Trust, with help from the county, purchased 112 acres to the west of Daybreak Road, just south of the river. The plan was to eventually donate the land back to the county, once they could secure funding to begin improvements.
“They purchased it using conservation futures funding,” said Pat Lee with the Public Works department at Tuesday’s County Council meeting. “From the beginning there was a memorandum that, at such time as we wanted them to donate the land, they would do so. And, now that we have some grant funds to do some improvements, we feel this is the appropriate time to have them donate that land.”
In 2010 the county approved the Lower Daybreak Regional Park master plan. The plan ultimately called for four miles of trails, several equestrian arenas, horse stalls, picnic shelters, smaller shelters, and a playground. They estimated the final cost would fall just short of $12 million, though no source of funding was available at the time.
Fast forward to 2016, when the county applied for two grants to help improve the property, and improve salmon habitat along that stretch of the Lewis River. The state has since approved $603,666 through an Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account grant.
“It was kind of an interesting process,” said Lee, “because we applied for this grant back in 2016 — not the current grant cycle — and because of the troubles negotiating a capital budget, all the funds that were allocated for this grant were frozen, in essence, for the last couple years. Now that there’s a budget agreement that happened earlier this year, the funds have been freed up and are now coming to us.”
The county will be able to count the value of the donated land towards their matching part of the state grant, meaning no additional money will be needed unless the project goes over budget.
The council voted Tuesday to move ahead with the project, which will add about half a mile of paved pathways, along with a 1,650 foot nature trail loop. There will also be access trails down to the river, along with a 30-foot diameter scenic river overlook. The equestrian arenas, picnic shelters, and playground will have to wait for future funding, should it materialize, but there will be a handful of new picnic tables in this phase of improvements, along with some benches along the trail.
This won’t happen overnight though. With the funding approved, the county planners will begin design work on this phase of the project. It’s unclear when construction could start, but the goal is to finish the improvements by the Summer of 2021. Until then, people can continue using the unofficial dirt trail that extends out from Daybreak Park’s west parking lot.