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.
Island County will use this grant to protect 54 acres of undeveloped tidelands and forests spanning more than a half-mile along Whidbey Island’s southeast shoreline for public use. Island County will buy a voluntary land preservation agreement, also called a conservation easement, to protect the property from development and ensure permanent public access to the land for activities such as kayaking, fishing, birding, nature-viewing, picnicking, and beachcombing. This land is along the Cascadia Marine Trail, a Washington water trail and designated National Recreation Trail, making it a useful and needed stopover point and potential campground for kayakers and other people using non-motorized boats. Island County has a unique opportunity to work with the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, which will buy the underlying land interest in the property using federal funding. If not acquired by this partnership, the land will be developed. The landowner is elderly and intends to sell the property for waterfront development. The property’s picturesque beach, abundant eelgrass beds, juvenile salmon and forage fish habitat, a mature coastal forest, and two seasonal streams contribute to the environmental quality of the property and its attractiveness to recreationists. Island County will contribute more than $1.2 million in Conservation Futures, a federal grant, and a grant from the state Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account.