The United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBOR) is undergoing a project to fortify the Scoggins Dam at Scoggins Valley Park/Henry Hagg Lake to make it better able to withstand a major seismic event. There is broad understanding of the need for this work and we support it. This project will impact recreation at the lake. We need the USBOR to mitigate or avoid project consequences on recreation.
The USBOR has issued a draft of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and are accepting comments on it until February 26, 2024. As the project is going to have real impacts to recreation at Scoggins Valley Park, it’s important to have the voices of park visitors heard.
As a Washington County resident, a park user, or an outdoor recreation advocate, here’s the actions you can take:
1) Participate in an upcoming meeting (virtual meetings require registration!)
3) Encourage other interested parties to do the same - share this page the above links!
What is in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?
Learn more about the EIS here: https://www.usbr.gov/pn/programs/sod/scoggins/index.html
Potential Impacts on Recreation
Below are impacts and possible responses. We encourage you to add your own perspective, concerns and solutions.
Issue: Large scale deforestation at the “borrow areas” all the way from the road to the water’s edge to excavate and remove earthen materials. These obvious clearcuts will cause visual blight affecting the recreational experience of park users for decades. The excavation areas and deforestation will be visible from most areas of the park. They are also directly across the lake from the new visitor center and the deforestation may diminish peoples interest in reserving the facility for events, causing undesirable economic impacts to Parks.
Response: Large scale deforestation of several hillsides will destroy the visual aesthetic of the natural area that people come to the park to enjoy. It will take generations for the forest to regrow and look like it does today. It is very important to recreation users that at a minimum a 200ft buffer of forest is left between the high water mark and the excavation to mitigate this impact.
Issue: Complete removal of soft surface trails in the borrow areas (i.e. excavation sites). No plan to construct temporary reroute trails.
Response: Trail use for hiking, biking, jogging and other uses is a key recreation offering at Scoggins Valley Park. It is one of the most popular draws for the public. Furthermore, many special events utilize the trail for their program. Triathlons, mud runs, cycling races and others have been using these trails for decades. As the trails are proposed to be completely removed for several years this will have a serious impact to recreation at Scoggins Valley Park. It is very important to stage the construction to avoid removal and maintain trail access around the lake thought the duration of the construction project. If the existing trail cannot be kept open during construction 1) a trail of comparable character and nature shall be constructed as a temporary reroute and 2) the existing trails must be replaced in the same location they exist in today when the excavation of materials is completed. Large segments of the trail being eliminated with no replacement is an unacceptable impact to recreation.
Issue: An approximately 75 foot wide haul road is proposed to be build on the reservoir side of Scoggins Valley Road. This will deforest a large swath of land causing visual blight, impact the operation of, and desirability to stay at, the campground, impact the parks maintenance yard and constrain access to Dam Overlook, the Campground, and Eagle Point Recreation Area.
Response: The haul route should create no impact to the campground site. Noise, dust and vibrations should be as far removed from the site as possible. The haul route would also deforest hundreds of trees at the campground site changing the recreational and visual quality for decades. Making the campground less desirable to stay at will have undesirable economic impacts to Washington County Parks. If the haul road is built as proposed. traffic control devices for crossing of the haul route at Dam Overlook, the campground and Eagle Point Recreation Area should prioritize recreation traffic crossings. No long traffic lights, no several minute delays for vehicles to access recreation sites. It is undesirable to create unnecessary traffic congestion on Scoggins Valley Road that would create noise, smell and delay for recreation users, emergency responders, parks staff, and neighbors. It is strongly preferred that the haul route be located on the outside (non-lake side) of Scoggins Valley Road so as to avoid most of these impacts.
Issue: Absence of safe travel lanes for bicycle and pedestrian traffic across the dam
Response: It is essential that the dam project construct a separated bicycle and pedestrian facility across the dam when the replacement road is built. The 14 mile trail around the lake is one of the most popular draws of the park. Because there is currently no separated bicycle and pedestrian facility it is unsafe for people to walk or ride a bicycle across the dam and acts as a recreation barrier.
Issue: New temporary road from park entrance to West Shore drive will bypass the fee booth.
Response: Washington County Parks is heavily dependent on revenue produced by the sale of parking passes. Because the temporary road to connect Scoggins Valley Park will bypass the existing fee booth it is essential to build a new fee booth along the new temporary road so that parks can capture that revenue. The fee booth should be off the travel lanes so as not to disrupt travel on the main line, have multiple lanes so as to not create traffic jams, and have installed ticket sales machines of the exact kind currently employed at the park so that the network system can feed into Park’s existing systems. It is essential that parks lose no revenue and that a new fee booth is constructed to 1) not obstruct traffic flow and 2) not cause unnecessary traffic delays in the parking pass lines and 3) parks nt lose operational revenue.
Issue: Economic impacts to parks due to this large scale, multi-year project.
Response: Parks is heavily funded by visitations. Fewer visitors means less revenue. The intensity and duration of this project may deter people from coming to Scoggins Valley Park during construction and possibly for years after the multi-year construction project is complete. People come to Scoggins Valley Park as a retreat to nature – for peace and calm. There is likely to be a decrease in attendance because the noise, dust, inconvenience, and other detriments during the project and attendance may not rebound until years after the project is complete. This decrease in revenue from parking pass sales, facility and kayak rentals, campground rentals and recreation program fees will have a disastrous effect on the County’s ability to operate and maintain the park. The project must produce a way to track the financial impact on Parks and pay to offset the impacts until they alleviate.
Issue: Impacts to septic and potable water lines and utilities.
Response: The project should ensure that no damage is caused by the project that would damage underground pipes that could require shutting recreation areas, bathrooms or otherwise create a health and safety concern. The project must identify potential areas of conflict and prevent them from occurring (e.g. knocking out power or breaking potable water lines). The project should also immediately prioritize quick resolutions to instances of damaged infrastructure or utilities so that recreation areas and facilities are able to reopen and function quickly.