September 4, 2008 in Voices

Improving Farragut

State park’s wastewater system, Eagle boat launch on the list for upgrades
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Kathy Plonka photo

Farragut Park manager Randall Butt stands near cedar log breakwaters at the park. The breakwaters, built in 1970 will be replaced as part of improvements to the park.
(Full-size photo)

Farragut schedule

Campgrounds and amenities will be closing according to this schedule:

Already closed: Beaver Bay Beach and Gilmore Campground

Sept. 8: Museum at the Brig, Waldron Campground

Oct. 12: Whitetail and Snowberry campgrounds

Nov. 2: Ward primitive RV camping and the Corral equestrian area. Thimbleberry will be available for primitive camping all winter starting Oct. 12.

The summer blur of camping and boating activity at Farragut State Park may be coming to a close, but park officials are just launching into a series of more than $6 million in projects to upgrade the park’s wastewater system and Eagle boat launch and to decrease fire danger by removing some trees and brush.

The sewage project will replace aging underground leach fields with lagoons that will store septic tank effluent for irrigation. Boat launch work will swap new wave attenuators for 30-year-old cedar log breakwaters and replace the handling docks. Launch lanes are also going to be widened.

These improvements are only the beginning for Farragut, said Park Manager Randall Butt. “There’s more on the horizon,” Butt said.

Park officials are also seeking state funding to build a large group campsite area that could host hundreds of tent and RV campers and money to improve the parking area at the boat launch.

The septic improvements are essential to protect the Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, Butt said.

“In order to enhance protection we want to get away from the below-ground disposal of effluent,” Butt said, adding that the leach fields in use now are about 40 years old and that detecting problems is difficult since they are underground.

This fall the new lagoons will be constructed and connected to the dump station and shower house. About 80 percent of the project will be complete by May 2009. All told the project will be capable of serving Farragut’s needs for the next 50 years.

The $500,000 in boat launch work this fall will improve access to Lake Pend Oreille and improve the breakwater. The new wave attenuators will break the water better.

About 13,000 boat launches occur there each year. Improving the parking area will cost another $300,000, which Butt said he hopes the state legislature will approve next year.

Butt will also be asking for $50,000 to plan and design a new group camping area.

That project would take several years to build and could cost about $2.5 million to complete.

“The group camp facility would be very positive for us,” Butt said.

It would provide a mix of tent and RV camping for as many as 700 people in six different “pods.”

Right now large groups are spread over smaller campsites.

While Farragut is good about working with large groups, an area designed for those groups would be an improvement, said Jo Ann Loris.

Loris works for the Grace Community Church in Auburn, Wash. The church has been bringing 250 to 350 teens and adults to camp at Farragut for more than two decades.

Consolidating all of the students into one area would improve security and make organizing the camp more convenient, Loris said.

“We want to be able to know where everybody is at all times,” she said, adding that Farragut is a great place for the church group. “There’s not a lot of places in the Northwest that accommodate large groups.”

Amy Cannata can be reached at


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