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Feds Offer to Buy Washington Campground

June 16, 2008 by   - () Leave a Comment

A popular fixture along Washington’s Yakima River for 40 years could be gone later this year, a casualty of the drive to save salmon and reduce flood threats.
The federal Bureau of Reclamation has made an offer to buy the 23-acre KOA Kampground, according to the Yakima Herald-Republic.
Removing the campground, coupled with the new, longer river bridge and the future movement of levees away from the river bank are seen as ways to promote a healthy Yakima River and the flood plain connected to it.
Merlin Horn knows all about the plans that involve a host of public agencies.
Owner of the campground for seven years, Horn and his wife, Dorothy, would like to retire and say it appears inevitable that the property will become a public asset.
“When there are enough agencies and people that want something to happen, it usually does,” the 73-year-old Horn said. “We don’t feel like fighting it. If I was 50, I might think about it.”
The negotiations that led to a formal offer submitted to the Horns on June 12 were open and without threat, he said.
It comes down to a willing seller and a willing buyer – the foundation of the 1994 federal law that authorized the bureau to purchase land and water rights in order to restore salmon and improve fish habitat along the Yakima and Naches rivers.
Horn said he received the offer with mixed emotions.
“We made a lot of good friends,” he added.
Once the bureau completes its purchase of the campground, the buildings and the camping sites, 184 spaces in all, will be removed. Eventually, when the levee that ties into the bridge abutment is moved further back, the river will consume the site as part of the flood plain.

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