Saddle Dam Park closure extended for engineering work

Park will remain closed after stay-at-home orders are lifted until dam-related engineering work is completed

COUGAR — Saddle Dam Park on Yale Reservoir will remain closed after other PacifiCorp-owned recreation areas along the Lewis River reopen following the anticipated lifting of some state-mandated stay-at-home orders in the coming weeks.

The extended closure of Saddle Dam Park is required for the company to finish evaluation work that began in 2019 and complete seismic measures concerning the Yale Saddle Dam, which is the short dam adjacent to the Saddle Dam Park boat ramp. Work is expected to continue for several years, but the duration of the extended closure will depend on the level of work needed to upgrade seismic resiliency and maintain public safety should a significant earthquake occur. The current low water level in Yale Reservoir will be maintained until the seismic resilience improvements at the Yale Saddle Dam are complete. The lower water level has also resulted in closure of the Cougar Campground boat launch.

It is anticipated that the closing of the popular Saddle Dam Park facility through 2020 may result in increased occupancy at other nearby recreation sites. To prepare for this potential outcome, PacifiCorp is planning to expand Yale Park parking and boat launch facilities, as well as expand parking at Cresap Bay and Speelyai Bay recreational areas on Lake Merwin to make up for the loss of boat launching and other day use activities at Saddle Dam. Further plans will be consistent with applicable state health and safety guidelines and announced when they are better defined.

Why is this work necessary at this time?

A periodic evaluation of the Yale Saddle Dam in 2019 indicated that the short earthen dam near the Saddle Dam Park’s boat ramp may be susceptible to damage in the event of a significant earthquake. Modern seismic design criteria is being used by engineers to develop the improvements that may be required to maintain resiliency and safety. After engineers have concluded their analysis, PacifiCorp will take the steps needed to improve the dam’s ability to operate safely in the event of an earthquake.

The Yale Saddle Dam is part of the Lewis River Hydroelectric Project owned and operated by PacifiCorp under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licenses. 

“PacifiCorp is proud to provide some of the finest water recreation opportunities available in the Northwest on its project reservoirs,’’ stated a press release from PacifiCorp. “he safety of the public, employees, customers and facilities is PacifiCorp’s top priority.’’

The company will provide additional updates on the recreation areas as they become available.

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