Seasonal alcohol ban considered for Sauvie Island Wildlife Area; public meeting set

Sauvie Island (KPTV file image)

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is considering a seasonal ban on alcohol for the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area.

A public meeting on the issue is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Sauvie Island Grange Hall, 14443 N.W. Charlton Road, Portland.

ODFW is proposing to prohibit the possession and use of alcoholic beverages in the wildlife area from May 1 through Sept. 30.

Authorities said that timeframe is when people using the beaches is typically the highest, with more significant alcohol-related problems.

ODFW reported an increase in alcohol-related issues over the past several years, despite increased law enforcement, which included 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,” according to ODFW.

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 be more than 16,000 in a day, exceeding the capacity of emergency services personnel to effectively respond to all the alcohol-related problems.

Last year, 17 people were arrested for DUII as they traveled away from Sauvie Island beaches, and 36 percent of all DUII arrests in Columbia County by Oregon State Police troopers were those traveling from those beaches.

Following the public meeting Feb. 22, the issue will be on the agenda for the March 16 meeting of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission in Salem.

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