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In brief: River access limited at Upriver Dam

From staff and wire reports

WATERSPORTS – Public access to the Spokane River below Upriver Dam has been scaled back due to vandalism, City Utilities staffers say.

Last Thursday, Rich Landers’ Outdoors story on 6 Flatwater Paddling Routes in the Spokane Area referred to an access opened to the public in 2010 below the dam on the south side of the river in Spokane Valley near Felts Field.

While that access is still useable, the gates are no longer opened daily, requiring paddlers to carry or wheel their craft farther down a steep gravel road to the river. It’s not an exceptionally difficult haul, especially with canoes or kayaks with portage wheels.

“We just had too many problems down there that we’re not staffed to handle,” said Steve Burns, Upriver Dam supervisor, explaining the decision to keep the gate locked.

“Two cars were left there, burned out, and had to be towed. There were issues with drugs and prostitution and a lot of homeless activity.

“Every sign we put was taken down. We finally had to leave the gate locked to keep unauthorized vehicles out of there.”

A sign with a City Utilities phone number that paddlers could call to have the gate unlocked for easier access was posted, but it was ripped off, too, he said. “After three times, we quit posting it.”

Currently, a paddling group can call and make arrangements to have the gate unlocked for temporary access to the river on weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The phone number is (509) 742-8141.

Directions to the access from Havana Street: drive east on Trent Avenue 0.3 mile and bear left on Waterworks. Drive 0.4 mile to the green river access gates on the left.

Parking is not allowed inside the gates or in the access entry way. However, Burns said there is room to park vehicles off the road near the access. Paddlers should avoid blocking the road or the access with vehicles, he said.

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