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County moves ahead with plans to begin development on new regional park

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.

This 105-acre property near Daybreak Road and NE 259th Street will soon become Clark County’s newest regional park. Photo by Chris Brown
This 105-acre property near Daybreak Road and NE 259th Street will soon become Clark County’s newest regional park. Photo by Chris Brown

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.

Children enjoy a rope swing on the north end of the Daybreak Road Bridge, and a splash in the East Fork Lewis River. Photo by Chris Brown
Children enjoy a rope swing on the north end of the Daybreak Road Bridge, and a splash in the East Fork Lewis River. Photo by Chris Brown

“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.

A dirt path currently extends from Daybreak Park’s west parking lot into the 105-acre property that will soon become Lower Daybreak Regional Park. Photo by Chris Brown
A dirt path currently extends from Daybreak Park’s west parking lot into the 105-acre property that will soon become Lower Daybreak Regional Park. Photo by Chris Brown

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.”

This beautiful property near Battle Ground, along the East Fork Lewis River, will soon become Lower Daybreak Regional Park. Photo by Chris Brown
This beautiful property near Battle Ground, along the East Fork Lewis River, will soon become Lower Daybreak Regional Park. Photo by Chris Brown

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.

A Robin peeks out of some grass on property near the East Fork Lewis River tabbed to become the Lower Daybreak Regional Park. Photo by Chris Brown
A Robin peeks out of some grass on property near the East Fork Lewis River tabbed to become the Lower Daybreak Regional Park. Photo by Chris Brown

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.

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About The Author

Chris Brown

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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