To the Editor:
In this time of Stay-at-Home regulations, coinciding with some lovely spring weather, we at the Friday Harbor Labs (FHL) have noticed increased use of University of Washington properties. We absolutely understand the desire to get out of the house and find new places to explore, and we want to be good neighbors, but please note the following restrictions on public access to UW lands.
The deeds for all UW-owned properties in the County make it clear that these lands are for “biological station and general university research purposes,” and give the University the right to limit public access. Under the current conditions, the University has closed the FHL campus to the public for the safety of critical staff and researchers living and/or working here. No visitors are permitted at this time – including for walks or picnics. And as a reminder for when we are no longer in the midst of a pandemic: the campus is part of a biological preserve on which dogs and other pets are never allowed (even on leash).
The restriction on pets (as well as on digging and other kinds of disturbance) also applies to False Bay – both the shoreline and tideflats. Reasons include the need to minimize disturbance and provide safe haven to shorebirds and marine mammals (see our website for details: https://fhl.uw.edu/facilities-resources/biological-preserves/management-policy-for-false-bay-argyle-lagoon-and-parks-bay-marine-preserves/). During last weekend’s sunny weather, numerous dogs were observed running loose and chasing shorebirds on the tideflats.
Because dogs on leash in False Bay are relatively harmless, we are testing a policy that allows islanders to take leashed dogs onto the property rather than prohibiting dogs entirely. We ask islanders to respect this policy and keep any dog visitors under tight control.
We wish we could end this letter with an invitation to our annual Open House on Saturday, the date for which it was originally scheduled! Of course, it won’t happen this year, but plan for a Saturday in May 2021, when FHL students, scientists, and staff will again welcome the islands community for a day of learning and fun. In addition to the Open house, we hope to offer limited, docent-led tours at other times of the year.
Meanwhile, please respect our health, security, privacy, and efforts to maintain intact biological preserves.
Dr. Megan Dethier
Director, Friday Harbor Labs