Lake County Proposes Improvements at Swan River Access Point

The site on Rainbow Drive has been affected by high use

By Dillon Tabish
Floaters arrange their gear near the Rainbow Drive access site for an afternoon on the Swan River on July 9, 2014. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Lake County officials are proposing site improvements at a popular access point along the Swan River in Ferndale.

The site on Rainbow Drive has been affected by high use, leading Lake County officials to proposal modifications that will protect against future erosion and maintain recreational access. The current river access point is a steep bank with no steps or other improvements and the bank has little vegetation. Lake County is proposing to relocate the current access point to an upstream area on the same parcel with a gentler slope. The existing access point would be revegetated and a walkway/stairway would be constructed to provide access to the river. The bank repair work would cover approximately 30 feet and the new access point would affect approximately 10 feet of bank.

Increased use is not expected as a result of the proposed activities, according to Lake County. The project is located on Lake County property.

County officials say the parks board has been working with neighbors, residents and floaters to establish a more reasonable and responsible approach to the water that would discourage misuse, decrease impacts, and repair damage from historical use.

The access point on Rainbow Drive draws flocks of hand-launch boaters in summertime. There is also the Swan River Fishing Access Site nearby off south Ferndale Drive, which has more parking opportunities.

In recent years, Lake County officials have focused on addressing parking congestion and garbage at the site and have established temporary restrooms and designated spots for vehicles. Parking along Rainbow Drive is prohibited, officials say. The site is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

FWP is reviewing the permit request to allow the site improvements and is accepting public comment on the proposal. Comments are due May 17. To read the proposal, visit http://fwp.mt.gov.