Islanders' access to the shore will be greatly enhanced when four projects that recently received funding are completed. A shoreline park on Lopez Island will be created, Moran State Park and Obstruction Pass Park on Orcas Island will be expanded.
San Juan County Land Bank Grant Requested: $820,000 Buying Lopez Island Shoreline for a Park
The San Juan County Land Bank will use two grants 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, rocks, 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, grants, and donations of cash.
These grants are from the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Program and Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information and photographs of this project. (18-1935 and 18-2031)
Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Grant Requested: $1,700,800 Expanding Moran State Park
State Parks will use two grants to expand the boundaries of Moran State Park on Orcas Island. With one grant, State Parks would buy 55 acres on the Strait of Georgia to extend the park’s trail system and give visitors access to the water, which isn’t possible in the park’s current boundaries. In addition, visitors would be able to get to this land from the water. With the second grant, State Parks will 80 acres next to the western boundary to protect the views and increase the trail network on the west side of the park. In the future, State Parks plans to build a trailhead there to relieve congestion during peak periods. Moran State Park is one of Washington's iconic state parks in the San Juan Islands. It is 5,252 acres and offers abundant camping, five freshwater lakes for swimming and non-motorized boating, and more than 30 miles of hiking, bicycling, mountain biking, and equestrian trails. State Parks will contribute $410,100 in donations of cash and land.
Both grants are from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. Visit RCO’s online Project Snapshot for more information about the first grant and more information about the second grant. (18-1480 and 18-1704)
Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Grant Requested: $1,899,475 Expanding Obstruction Pass State Park
State Parks will use this grant to buy 55.5 acres next to Obstruction Pass State Park on Orcas Island in San Juan County. Nearly doubling the size of the park, the land will allow for trail connections and will extend the public shoreline to Spring Bay. All of the shoreline in Obstruction State Park is high-bank and buying this land will enable State Parks to provide access for visitors to walk to the water.
Obstruction Pass State Park is an 80-acre park with parking, about 3.5 miles of trails, nine primitive campsites, one Cascade Marine Trail campsite, three restrooms, mooring buoys, and more than 1 mile of publicly owned saltwater shoreline. State Parks will contribute $500 in donations of cash.
Washington Department of Natural Resources Grant Requested: $121,000 Restoring San Juan Islands’ Prairie and Grassland Bald Habitat
The Department of Natural Resources will use this grant to restore and enhance grassland balds and prairie habitat in the Cypress Island Natural Area and the Cattle Point Natural Resources Conservation Area, both in the San Juan Island archipelago.
Cypress Island Natural Area in Skagit County contains some of the highest quality grassland bald habitats in the north Puget Sound region; however encroachment by trees and invasive species threaten to degrade them. The department will remove encroaching trees, control other invasive plants, and restore treated areas with native grassland seeding and planting.
The Cattle Point Natural Resources Conservation Area on San Juan Island contains patches of native prairie amid a largely degraded grassland that was historically prairie. The Grant Descriptions 107 conservation area site supports part of the only known population of the Island marble butterfly, as well as a population of the sand-verbena moth, which is rare in the state. The department will control invasive plants and replant areas with native grassland species.