Letter from Judy Meyer to Port of Lopez

Lopez Port Commissioners
Sent via email 10 January 2017

Dear Steve, Ken, and Dan,

I won’t be able to attend the January meeting of the Port because I am off island caring for my granddaughter.  If I were on Lopez, I would be at the Port meeting requesting that you deny the request to use Port land to allow public access to the Clure property.   I have no idea if the Land Bank or the Clures have even asked you for this.   At today’s County Council Meeting, the Land Bank’s Lincoln Bormann stated that the Clures were working on getting access from Eagle’s Roost Lane.  I don’t know if they are requesting access through Port property.  The neighbors are being left out of the loop.  If you know something about this, could you please let me know.

My understanding is that the Port’s mission is to support economic development.  The only way that public access to the Clure property across Port land promotes economic development is if it boosts tourism on Lopez.  Yet the Land Bank and the trails group have been assuring the neighbors that this public access to the beach will be for locals not tourists.  I am skeptical of that, but if they state that as their purpose, then providing beach access to locals seems to be outside of the Port’s mission.

If in fact access is for tourists as well as locals, my concern is with numbers.  With an access off Shark Reef Road, this will become a popular stopping point for tourists on their way to Shark Reef Park.   The beach currently has minimal human traffic and is a wonderful haven for wildlife.  Increasing human traffic on the beach will be detrimental to the plants and animals.  Numerous scientific studies in the peer-reviewed literature have demonstrated the negative impacts of human trampling on intertidal organisms around the world and as close to home as San Juan County Park (citations can be found at www.savelopezshoreline.org/documents).  And if visitors walk beyond the boundaries of the Clure property, they will be walking in the intertidal unless they trespass on private property.   In many respects, this acquisition is an invitation to trespass because the easiest walking and resting spots on driftwood logs are on private property.  I often hear the proponents of the Land Bank’s purchase state that they think all beaches should be public as they are in Oregon and other states.  That is a reasonable point of view, but the way to achieve that is to change the law in Washington, not to enable trespassing on what is private land on which San Juan County collects taxes.

In addition, Meadow Lane and Eagle’s Roost are private roads.  They were not intended or designed to be public roads.   They have been privately maintained for decades.  Their purpose is to provide access to the residential neighborhoods they serve.  Making them public and increasing traffic on those roads is outside the initial purpose for which the road easements were granted and hence are legally questionable.

If you are asked, please decline the request for access across the Port’s land.

Judy Meyer