Community Environment Government

Kopachuck State Park renewal nearing, minus beach portion

Posted on September 28th, 2022 By:

Kopachuck State Park’s renovation will begin in early 2023, but work on the lower, beach area will be delayed.

The park was re-envisioned for day use only after the campground area closed in 2011 as a safety precaution. Douglas fir trees had become infected with laminated root rot and hundreds were cut down.

A new identity for the 280-acre site 6 miles west of downtown Gig Harbor emerged in a master plan developed in 2014.

Issues with funding and permitting

The Legislature provided $5.5 million for the project in its 2017-19 capital budget. Because of delays in permitting, required redesign and inflation, the funding fell $2.1 million short.

The shortfall was covered in this year’s supplemental budget, but $1 million was removed from the original appropriation.

A wooden bridge crosses a small stream at Kopachuck State Park.

A wooden bridge crosses a small stream at Kopachuck State Park. Ed Friedrich / Gig Harbor Now

“What they decided was they needed a million dollars for something else so they took the middle ground,” said Project Manager Brian Yearout. “What ultimately happened is we got about half of what we asked for, which means the lower area will have to wait.”

By first finishing the upper-area renovation, which comprises 80% to 90% of the project, Kopachuck won’t have to be entirely closed twice as would be necessary if both the upper and lower sections were partially completed. The top could remain open during the later beach phase.

“It’s certainly not ideal, but it’s where we ended up,” Yearout said. “It’s just cleaner to do it the way we’re doing it.”

What’s planned at Kopachuck State Park

The upper park plan includes a welcome center and lodge-like multipurpose building. Plans call for an ADA-compliant picnic area, amphitheater, play area, parking and restrooms. New water, sewer and stormwater management systems are to be installed.

Along the 5,600-foot beach on Carr Inlet, plans include an ADA-compliant walkway, stairs, non-motorized boat launching and water trail camping.

Restroom in upper part of Kopachuck State Park

A multipurpose building adjacent to play and picnic areas will be built in the upper park. Ed Friedrich / Gig Harbor Now

After funding was approved in March, State Parks began pursuing building permits. Of 28 applications made with various agencies, 21 have been secured. If the final seven reviews — all with Pierce County — go smoothly, the project could go out for bid in a couple months.

“If we get them all approved, we’ll be in position to advertise in November, so we’re getting close,” Yearout said. “My goal is to be out there in early 2023 breaking ground, but we still have a few permits left to get.”

Construction is expected to take about a year.