Guerneville’s first public boat launch opens access to the Russian River

River recreation enthusiasts slid down Guerneville’s first public boat launch and into the Russian River this weekend.

The new Guerneville River Park Ramp, opened by Sonoma County Regional Parks this month, is designed for canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and other non-motorized watercraft.

The launch is part of the county agency’s efforts to improve river access and recreational opportunities for the community.

“These improvements increase equitable river access and recreational opportunities for Russian River residents and visitors,” Supervisor Lynda Hopkins said in a news release announcing the opening. Hopkins represents the 5th District, which encompasses the lower reaches of the Russian River.

“This is a wonderful example of our tax dollars being used to prioritize park facilities that balance the economic benefits of tourism with improving the quality of life within a community,” she said.

In addition to the non-motorized boat launch, other additions include a second vehicular entrance off Highway 116 and the parking lot, trails that meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, picnic areas, a group picnic area and the replanting of native riparian habitats.

The project was funded by grants from organizations such as the State Parks Division of Boating Waterways and the Sonoma County Ag and Open Space District, as well as the Prop. 68 Per Capita of state parks, local parks mitigation fees, and the parks-for-all measure. Tax Funding M, approved by Sonoma County voters in 2018, officials said.

One woman, who paddleboarded on Sunday morning from Guerneville to Rio Nido, said she was excited about the new ramp as it supports her nine-year-old passion and is close to home.

“Being able to paddle early in the morning – and it’s 15 minutes away – is just great,” said Michelle Balestrieri, 60, from Sebastopol. “You are surrounded by beautiful landscapes. It’s such a beautiful place. I’m very glad Sonoma (county) did this.

Balestrieri, who had returned to the boat launch on Sunday evening, brought her niece back with her.

Another river enthusiast who was relaxing and floating down the Russian River on Sunday in his canoe said he was anticipating the opening of the ramp.

“I watched them build it for a while,” said Richard Wilson, 58, who lives west of the river. “It’s huge for the community. I no longer have to drag my canoe down a dirt road (a community dock he usually uses). It’s much easier now.

For more information about the ramp and the park, visit parks.sonomacounty.

You can reach editor Mya Constantino at [email protected] @searchingformya on Twitter.

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