ODFW to consider alcohol ban on Sauvie Island Wildlife Area

CLACKAMAS, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will host a public meeting on Thursday, Feb. 22 to discuss a proposed seasonal ban on the use of alcohol on the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area.

The meeting is open to the public and will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Sauvie Island Grange Hall, located on the island at 14443 NW Charlton Rd., Portland, OR 97231.

ODFW is proposing to prohibit the possession and use of alcoholic beverages on the wildlife area from May 1 through Sept. 30 each year. This is when the number of people using wildlife area beaches is typically the highest and alcohol-related problems are most significant, according to Mark Nebeker, SIWA manager.

Over the past several years, ODFW has documented an increase in alcohol-related problems at SIWA beaches, despite increased law enforcement, including saturation patrols. Wildlife area management and OSP believe that an alcohol ban during the summer months will significantly reduce alcohol-related problems, and thus the need for additional law enforcement and emergency medical personnel.

Last year, 17 individuals were arrested for DUII as they travelled away from Sauvie Island beaches, and 36 percent of all DUII arrests in Columbia County by OSP troopers were those travelling from SIWA beaches.

For the past five years, the number of visitors to the beach area annually from May through September is estimated at approximately 488,465 people. During periods of hot weather, the number of people on the beaches can exceed 16,000 people a day, exceeding the capacity of emergency services personnel to effectively respond to all the alcohol-related problems.

The proposed alcohol ban is also an agenda item for the March 16 meeting of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission in Salem.