Letter from Kate Scott to Port of Lopez

Port Commissioners:
Steve Adams
Dan Post
Kenn Aufderhar

Dear Commissioners,

I am writing to ask you to please deny public access to the Clure property across Port land.

An email received from the Trails folk has stated that  “a few neighbors have mounted a strong opposition to the Preserve, with some valid concerns and several alternative facts and plenty of $.”

I would like to point out that we are more than “a few neighbors” who are opposing this  purchase.  There are at least 38 of us whose property abuts the beach in question – and only one of them approves of opening this pristine beach to the public.  The Trails folks’ email shows a lovely photograph of the long unspoiled beach  and says it “affords miles of beach available for the public to walk on.”   In truth, the photo shows almost all private  property.  The  rocky tide flats in the bottom part of the picture are where the public could legally walk, and even then only when the tide is out.   And what exactly is “plenty of $” insinuating?  That we are all rich landowners and we just don’t want to share?  What exactly was “plenty of $”  spent on? Looks to me like alternative facts  they refer to did not come from our side.

I  purchased my land (with its two falling down shacks) on  Channel Road in 1989, and it was still relatively inexpensive. I am not even remotely wealthy.  Most of the property owners I know personally along this beach have owned their properties since the 70s and before. All of us that live along this two mile stretch of beach care immensely that this beach stay the wild and unspoiled beach that it is; not because of some NIMBY attitude as implied,  but because we understand that it’s the very inaccessibility that keeps it that way and is what has kept us good stewards of it.

This beach is home to all manner of wild animals who call it home. Deer swim across the channel.  Mamma seals  bring their babies ashore to wait patiently while they fish, sometimes there at the foot of Meadow Lane, and also points much further north. Otters roam freely  up and down the beach as well as the banks.  Many, many different bird species nest and make their living here, including  families of eagles that have nested here since the  50s. Again, it’s the very inaccessibility that keeps this beach wild and unspoiled.

The Trails group seem to have dialed back their “last wild and unspoiled beach on Lopez” description in this latest email.  Now they just say it’s a nice place for the public to walk; and  “this nice place would be visited by a few more of us (the public which does include outsiders).”   That sounds like a vast understatement to me, given the number of people that visit nearby Shark Reef County Park every summer.   I  can only assume they have realized that hordes of people on the beach in the summer would mean it wouldn’t stay very wild and pristine for very long, and so are now describing it as “nice.”    How can it possibly “preserve the wildness” of this beach by opening it up to  lots and lots of people and their no doubt numerous dogs?  It is a contradiction in terms to say that.   Plus what interpretation  of “wild”  includes  beach signs cluttering up the landscape?

While they tout that it’s “a great benefit to our community as a space for walking and access to sit along the shoreline,” we already have numerous public beaches on the west side on which to do those things.  One can even play in the surf and enjoy sunsets from these other beaches.

They also say people walking the beach would have “…no intent to neither trespass on private lands nor harm neighbors.”  When in fact, intent is  completely separate from actuality.  Even our Lopez County Commissioner’s wife, whose land abuts a public access beach in the village, testified that people paid no attention to the posted “private property” signs and walked right by them all the time.

Lastly, the email states that “Fire and EMS access here is easier than at several other public lands and parks on Lopez.”  This can only be referring to access  through Meadow Lane, the only spot along the whole two mile stretch of beach where fire and EMS could even get near a beach.  There is absolutely no access of any sort for that type of equipment on any of the rest of the properties. All but the Clure properties are high bank, with no access anywhere near the banks.  The Lopez Fire Chief has advised that the chance of a major fire greatly increases with public access. He also said  Lopez fire equipment and EMS vans can’t navigate the Clure beach access; so the best firefighters can do is walk in with 5-10 gallon water back-packs. He further said “early detection by homeowners is key” because if a fire catches hold on the dry grasses of the bluff, there is little they can do to contain it.

For these many reasons,  I ask you respectfully to please not grant access to the Clure property over Port land.

Thank you very much,

Kat Scott
Lopez Island

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