Local

Trouble on the River at Fort Washington Beach

Friday, June 26, 2009

There aren't many places for the general public to access the valley's San Joaquin River. There are a few private spots offering paid access with state leasing permits. But one spot along the river where camping is allowed is being called a bad neighbor. And it may not be in state compliance with a current lease agreement.

Rain or shine fishing along the San Joaquin River at Fresno County's Lost Lake Park is common.

Further down river the fishing and camping is private at the Sportsman's Club near a stocked pond. Next door to the club is Fort Washington Beach. It offers the public 'paid' access to a private pond, the river and overnight camping. Pearl Morgan, Sportsman Club caretaker: there are some that are staying there all the time, "All i know is i do recognize the tents and the blue ones have been here quit some time."

According to the Sportsman's Club caretaker, Pearl Morgan, the neighboring campers ignore the no trespassing signs and use their facilities, "There was a woman and some kids washing dishes there at campsite number five at the water hose because they don't have access over there to water. They had come over to use our restrooms because they said those over there were too dirty."

Fort Washington Beach operated for years with a lease from California's State Lands Commission that required appropriate sanitation. We spoke with the agency and were told that lease expired in 2002. The property owner, Judy Finch, wouldn't talk with us on camera but told us the lease is still in affect. She added that "Only one other person, who helps me run the business, lives there (permanently).

Meantime, the state's land commission told Action News it is planning on making a site vest to Ft. Washington Beach in the next couple of weeks in order to resolve the issue of that lease.

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