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Nooksack River boat launch (February 26, 2021). Photo: My Ferndale News

Boat launch concerns and relocation options to be subject of presentation to City Council Monday

FERNDALE, Wash. — Officials with the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) are scheduled to make a presentation during Ferndale City Council next regular meeting on Monday, March 1st. The topic will be the boat launch currently located at the north end of Hovander Homestead Park.

According to presentation materials included with the meeting packet, there are some challenges with the current boat launch location. They cited the following items.

  • The area below the launch has filled in with sediment and a gravel bar has formed in front of the launch
  • Launching a boat during low flows has become challenging
  • WDFW’s maintenance permit allows maintaining the launch within the footprint of the launch

Fixing the current launch site, according to the presentation materials, “

  • Would require dredging gravels and sediment below launch
  • Involve a difficult permitting process for dredging activities and would be a recurring maintenance action
  • Impact fish habitat and disturbance of 3 ESA listed species (Chinook, Steelhead and Bull Trout)

Given those challenges, WDFW officials say they have considered nearby “sites with better river dynamics and sediment transport for a launch.”


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A location at the north end of VanderYacht Park was identified as “the best site given the conditions we were looking for.” Below of the conditions listed in the presentation materials.

  • Deep, fast moving water
  • Low sedimentation
  • Good grading for launch
  • West side of the river

They note in the presentation materials that the VanderYacht Park site is already a popular public recreational site well-known by recreational anglers with space for parking.

Ferndale City Administrator pointed out in a letter to councilmembers, “The presentation is occurring early in the discussion process, and no final decisions, recommendations, or funding have been made or secured.”

WDFW officials say in their presentation materials that “WDFW is committed to maintaining recreational fishing access at Hovander Park at the Ferndale Boat Launch site.” In addition, “WDFW is hoping to work with the City of Ferndale to continue to explore opportunities to partner on fishing access to the Nooksack River.”

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Nooksack River boat launch sign (February 26, 2021). Photo: My Ferndale News
Nooksack River boat launch wayfinding sign (February 26, 2021). Photo: My Ferndale News

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