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Wayne Schlaht
Wayne Schlaht
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New Ramp at Kutras Park Only Diverts Attention from Safety Issues at Cypress Bridge

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REDDING, Ca.  The Redding City Council will review a proposal to open a new boat ramp at Kutras Lake, approximately 1/4 mile upstream of the construction zone at the Cypress Ave. Bridge.  The landowner, the philanthropic McConnell Foundation, has offered to open the ramp in exchange for some improvements to the parking lot on Park Marina Dr.  The proposal is offered to address the recent closure of boating to this area.

If the proposal is accepted, boaters will be allowed to access the Sacramento River at the boat ramp at the Posse Grounds and float approximately one mile of river before taking out at Kutras Lake.  This will allow boaters to avoid encountering the construction pilings at the Cypress Bridge.  However, to pass further down the river, boaters will have to trailer their boats to the next available ramp at So. Bonnyview, approximately 3 miles downstream.

This proposal has the support of the local flyfishing guides that put in at the Posse Grounds and take out at Bonnyview or points further downstream.  According to Michael Caranci, guide services manager at the Fly Shop, this proposal would open up “one of the most popular and beautiful stretches of [the] river.” 

While I agree that this one mile stretch of the river is beautiful, we need to remain mindful of what is at risk here.  If the ramp is opened, access to the river will again be allowed at the Posse Grounds.  If the river is opened to all that enjoy it, i.e., kayakers, canoers, rafters and tubers, numerous access points will be utilized.  The problem is that once these flotilla are permitted on this stretch, it will only be a matter of time before someone misses the pull out at Kutras, or decides to take “the adventure” of attempting to navigate through the construction pilings.  In order to thwart such an occurrence, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department will be required to dedicate a good part of its boating assests and funds to patrol this tiny stretch of the river.

Another matter that must be considered is what will happen when construction for the expansion of the Highway 44 bridge gets fully underway.  A significant amount of fill has already been pushed out onto the river bed, narrowing the passage of the entire river into a channel that is approximately 40-60 feet wide.  What if CalTrans decides to shut down boating passage during the period of construction.  The Kutras Lake ramp, which sits approximately 1/3 of a mile downstream, will become useless.

With hundreds of miles of beautiful river available for boating, fishing and floating both above the Posse Grounds and below the Cypress Bridge, it seems senseless to dedicate so much of taxpayers resources to a tiny stretch of river that will be closed for a relatively short span of time.