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 buy 280 acres including Zylstra Lake and its shoreline, on San Juan Island. The lake is well known to islanders and visitors as shimmering water in the distance. Highly visible from San Juan Valley Road, the land has been privately owned since the days of early settlement. Ironically for an island, San Juan has virtually no public access to water warm enough for swimming. Private lakes, where the community used to go are now off limits, except for a small private lake used for sailing programs. The County envisions a park along the lake that gives people access to the water for paddle-powered craft, along with nature trails for walking. Zylstra, with its central location on the island, ample shoreline, and large, 50-acre area, is critical to restoring access to the water for the public. The San Juan County Land Bank will contribute more than $1.2 million in a federal grant and a voter-approved levy.