We actually got out of the house this week and
went fishing. Our local salmon fishery is beginning
to show a few fish and the local wisdom is early
(o'dark thirty) and a low or incoming tide. The
tide on our local beaches can vary as much as 13
feet, and if the tide is moving smartly it does
cause bait to become confused and trapped in the
seams where the water currents join.
We were not totally on the time target (a bit tough
getting up and up really early when you have worked
until one am) but we did spend a few hours casting -
albeit unsuccessfully. I caught a couple small
non-salmon, still fun!
Fishing this place, Point No Point, is a far cry
from what it was a few years ago.
There is now public access.
When we first attempted to fish this area, there
was a narrow, nearly one-lane road, big logs on
one side (to discourage parking) the road had been
illegally posted "No Parking, Fire Lane" and the
locals who have some expensive homes on beachfront,
made a point of calling the Sheriff's Department to
alert them to all the vehicles illegally parked on
the road. (Except the locals had paid for and
erected the No Parking signs themselves! It only
took a couple of phone calls to the County Road
Department to uncover that one.)
There was also a gate at the entrance of the Light
House property, usually locked. A small parking
area was inside the gate, but fishermen could not
depend on either getting in or being able to get
out if someone locked the gate early. That happened
a lot. There was an area about a quarter of a mile
away where one could park, but even that much of a
walk in waders wasn't a picnic.
The Coast Guard let it be known the light house
property could be leased. The local tribe thought
it would be a neat idea for them to hold the lease,
especially since the place is also the site of a
historical marker commemorating the transfer of a
huge chunk of tribal property to the US government.
There was some local concern that if the tribe had
the lease they could also keep any one else but
tribal members from using the property.
Along side the property on the water was a rather
large chunk of private land (where the logs were)
and it was also posted No Trespassing! Bordering
one more side is marsh/tidelands. Wonderful bird
Here is a wonderful opportunity for public access
all neatly tied up.
It took some pressure on the local county commissioners,
phone calls, visits to the country offices, dragging
them out to Point No Point to see for themselves plus
multiple calls to the various government people in
charge of leasing light houses to get the point across
of what was really available.
There were a lot of excuses. The local Hansville
residents (well the ones who didn't want any traffic
on their road anyway) fought the whole idea. The
county was concerned about liability, need for porta
potties (which the US Coast Guard had been funding)
and what to do with the Lightkeepers residents. There
is also an active running radar station on the property,
which assures the Coast Guard would keep an eye on the
property even though the lighthouse property itself
was officially leased.
It took 2 years. But the lighthouse property was
leased to the county. The adjacent property with
the No Trespassing signs was acquired by the county
in a trade with the owner, a new parking lot was
created, picnic benches magically appeared and the
whole area is now open to the public! The beach is
a terrific place for families to play, picnic and
leaves lots of area for anglers of all types.
A wonderful asset to this region which had not
existed and which was nearly lost.
Washington state does not have a public access
law which makes all ocean beaches open to all.
Most, including the tidelands, and private and
quite often posted. As a result there is very
little access except for county, state or national
parks which border the ocean.
If you live in a region without public access,
much less public fishing access, take heart.
You can fight city hall (or in this case county
government) and win. While the county did come
up with the necessary funding to get the job done,
there are other funds available. Remember that
10% excise tax we all pay on our fishing and
boating gear? Part of those funds are paid to
each state, every year to buy/improve public access.
Have a local TU or FFF group looking for a
worthwhile project? Consider public access! ~ DLB
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