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Fox Island's Towhead Island Boat Launch

Towhead Island Boat Ramp Project Revived?

Due to the rapidly deteriorating condition of the Fox Island boat launch (formally known as "Towhead Island"), and the hazardous traffic conditions at the launch on busy summer weekends, Fox Island resident John Ohlson has been holding talks with various government officials to see if an improvement plan drawn up by the Pierce County Parks & Recreation District in the 1980's can be revived.

This photo, taken in January 2013, shows the deterioration that has taken place since the image below was taken in March 2007.

A few years ago, we collected signatures on a petition to show support for the proposed improvements, and to date over 650 signatures have been gathered.

Click to enlarge image of Boat Ramp Master Plan





The land was originally the site for the toll booth for the Fox Island bridge, and the original ramp was constructed to facilitate the construction of the bridge. Some years later, the original ramp was destroyed by some heavy equipment belonging to the Navy.

It was later replaced by the current concrete slabs which are chained together to form the boat ramp. The slabs are breaking apart, have become disconnected from one another, and pose a hazard to boaters. Most people avoid the actual ramp, and launch their boats on the adjacent gravel beach.

Time and the tides have taken their toll, and the once spacious parking area is now only a fraction of it's former self.  Erosion has washed away nearly all of the parking area, and the pavement on the ramp is crumbling badly.

The new plan would increase the on-site parking from approximately 8 stalls to nearly 21 stalls, and provide an off-street staging area for boaters to turn around and position their rigs to launch - out of the oncoming traffic.  Incoming traffic would be routed to the north end of the lot, and exiting traffic would use the south exit, providing a smoother flow of traffic on the site. 

 An option to add a small picnic area on the south end of the property is also being looked at.


The image from 2007 on the left, shows the amount of erosion that has taken place vs. the one on the right from 2013, as the waves slowly eat away the parking lot area.

In this comparison view looking North, you can see the remnants of the original retaining wall boulders, located well past the shoreline in the year 2000, vs. where it is in 2013.

Fox Island resident John Ohlson has been in communication with Senator Maria Cantwell’s office, US Rep. Derek Kilmer, Rep. Pat Lantz, Pierce County Councilman Terry Lee, and PenMet Parks over the past five years regarding this project. There has been interest by all parties concerned, to get the project back on track. 

2013: Efforts are under way to restart this project, and potentially strike up a partnership between PenMet and the BLM to provide stewardship and ongoing operational support for this facility.

Post a comment on Derek Kilmer's Facebook Page  Look for the Boat Ramp post by John Ohlson on the right side of his Timeline, and post a comment to that post.





Erosion and tidal action has washed away the boat launch's parking area over the years.  The second row of boulders on the left was the original location of the parking lot's westerly edge.






The small turnaround area is close to the oncoming traffic on the Fox Island Bridge road, making a traffic hazard for boaters and Island residents alike.






Damaged by heavy equipment and frequent use by commercial fishermen and geoduck farmers, the concrete ramp approach is badly cracked and crumbling, and the concrete slabs that make up the ramp itself are beyond repair.

The angle of the ramp itself would be increased under the new plan, to prevent having to submerge your vehicle in the saltwater to get your boat off the trailer, and the concrete slabs would be replaced with a smooth, continuous concrete drive.





Moving day for a Tanglewood Island resident meant driving their U-Haul truck down the boat ramp, to load it onto the waiting landing craft.

Towhead Island Boat Ramp - Click To Enlarge Image

A detailed diagram of the proposed plan is seen here.

 Click to enlarge plans

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