Tillamook County Commissioners Reopen Some Boat Launches, Weekdays Only; Extend State of Emergency to May 31st


EDITOR’S NOTE: Yesterday May 5th, the Tillamook County Board of Commissioners extended the state of emergency to May 31st to align with neighboring counties, both Lincoln and Clatsop Counties had extended their declarations to this date as well. There was much discussion about opening Cape Kiwanda boat ramp to recreational dory fishermen as well as opening RV parks and other short term rentals. The opening of the boat ramps to annual/day pass holders during the week is a first step and if Tillamook County residents adhere to restrictions, additional openings are anticipated in the coming weeks. Be aware that the Commissioners noted that if there are problems and people do not follow the rules, the closures could be re-enacted at any time. “Closing everything was the easy part,” said Commissioner Baertlein, “with opening things back up we are going to go slow, slower than everyone wants, but that’s the way it’s going to be.”
The Tillamook Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to phase in reopening of county boat launches to beginning today, Wednesday, May 6, 2020.
Four boat launches will be open initially, Nehalem Bay Boat Launch, Memaloose Point, Netarts Bay and Pacific City boat launch at Sunset Drive. The boat launches will be open mid-week for the next three weeks for users with a Tillamook County annual pass or a day use pass. “We need to get local folks back out on the water,” said Tillamook County Commission chair, Bill Baertlein, “it’s time.”

The boat launches have been closed to recreational users since March 22 along with parks, campgrounds, beach access points and beach front parking lots in order to prevent transmission of the Coronavirus in Tillamook County. That effort has been largely successful, as evidenced by a total of six confirmed cases, and no new cases for approximately three weeks.
Commissioner David Yamamoto championed reopening of the boat launches. “We want our residents to be able to get out and go fishing, we do. Life, health and safety are my number one priority as a commissioner. We are opening boat launches in a safe, measured way to ensure the safety of our residents.”
Boat launches will be open May 6 and 7; May 12-14 and May 18-22. Thereafter phase two of reopening will be considered by the commissioners. Launches will close at 5 p.m. May 7, May 14 and May 22. It is the responsibility of boaters to make sure that they exit the parking lot before 5 p.m.
“It is our intention to get boat launches open for locals,” said vice chair Commissioner Mary Faith Bell, “and to gradually work up to being open again full-time. It is in everyone’s best interest to be spending time outside doing the things we love to do. We trust our community to keep themselves and others safe from the virus.”
In the interest of public health in the time of COVID-19, the commissioners issued safety regulations including no more than two occupants per boat, immediate family members only; one boat on the launch at a time; observe physical distancing guidelines including six feet of distance between individuals; face masks are recommended in public settings.
Please see the signed board resolution here. All boat launch users are responsible to abide by the regulations set forth therein.