Partnership proves the path to reopening Philippi Park

Amy Echols
Public Affairs Office

A long-time favorite boat-in recreation area on the John Day River reopened to annual summer use over Memorial Day weekend after closing in early 2013 due to recreation budget reductions.

Opal Foundation volunteers load wood as part of Philippi Park  restoration activities

Volunteers unload supplies from a Corps boat at Philippi Park to prepare for its reopening after a 3-year closure. A new partnership agreement with the Corps will put this popular boat-in only park back on the summer calendar for recreation visitors.

A team lead by the Natural Resources Management staff from around the District worked the details for a new, long-term partnership with Opal Foundation to turn on the power and water systems, reinstall boat docks, open the restroom/shower building and return the park to public use.

Opal Foundation, a non-profit organization comprised of individuals and organizations, will provide financial and material contributions and volunteer support to open and maintain Philippi Park each year from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends. The Corps and Opal Foundation will conduct a range of activities and projects that support recreational opportunities and protect and preserve the archeological, natural, cultural and environmental features at the park.

“Through collaboration and a shared interest we worked through details to improve and operate this popular destination park,” said Kevin Moynahan, John Day-Willow Creek operations project manager. “Alongside our new partner we now can sustain summer recreation for local communities and visitors.”

After signing the partnering agreement, Opal Foundation rounded up volunteers to work alongside John Day Lock and Dam staff over many days in May to bring life back to the overgrown park by clearing downed trees, repairing plumbing and hauling gear across the river to support summer visitors.

Corps of Engineers' Philippi Park on the John Day River“The Corps and the community have our commitment to maintain, preserve and enhance recreation at the park,” said Darrell McSmith of Beaverton and founder of Opal Foundation. McSmith and his family recreated at Philippi Park for decades and memories of summer fun thrive across several generations. “We are excited to be part of reopening the park to new generations of visitors.”

Reopening day included with a boat parade across the river from LePage Park, a ribbon cutting ceremony, park tours and a beach-side BBQ hosted by Opal Foundation.