Washington is famous for its gorgeous and abundant waterways, from the Salish Sea to the Nisqually River, but many communities lack open public beaches and waterfronts where everyone can enjoy picnicking, swimming, paddling, boating, and angling. Water Access projects fund public shoreline access, boat launches, and fishing docks to create more opportunities for water recreation.
The San Juan County Land Bank will use this grant to help buy about 10 acres along the western shore of Lopez Island for a public beach and for launching hand-powered boats. The 7.35-mile western shore of Lopez Island largely is inaccessible because of high bluffs, rocky shoreline, and overwhelmingly private ownership. Only two-thirds mile is accessible from land, and the land to be purchased is the only remaining potential access point to the rest. Due to threat from vacation home development, the land was purchased in 2017, but about $450,000 is still owed to the seller. The land connects to 2 miles of public tideland reachable only by boat. This area is part of the Cascadia Marine Trail, but rarely is used because there is no way for paddlers to launch or take out. This project would fill that gap. Its beach also would allow swimming, beachcombing, and wildlife viewing as well as kite and stand up paddle boarding among other activities. The San Juan County Land Bank will contribute $412,806 in a voter-approved levy, potentially a grant from the state Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account, and donations of cash.