Shaw Island County Park Potential closure of Overnight Camping

In the last few days we have learned that the San Juan County Council has a budget shortfall, and has developed several scenarios, one of which is to eliminate overnight camping at the Shaw Island County Park.

From a resident: “The proposal is part of a plan to make up for budget shortfalls. The County budget was short by about $1.5 million and closing the Shaw campground would save $25,000 – $30,000. The Council plans to discuss and presumably decide on this matter when they meet next on either Monday or Tuesday of next week (25th, 26th). The date will be announced this Friday (22nd). The county budget will be finalized and approved December 12th.

Shaw wants to save our campground and we are reaching out to anyone who might share this feeling. The Shaw CMT site is awesome and I’m sure some of your members agree. We are encouraging as many people as possible to contact the three county council members as soon as possible to express love for Shaw County Park. Here is their contact information.

Rick Hughes- Rickh@sanjuanco.com – 360-298-5103

Jamies Stephens- jamies@sanjuanco.com – 360-378-2898

Bill Watson- billw@sanjuanco.com – 360-370-7473”

This has far reaching consequences, some of which are nicely put by a local resident in the letter we have uploaded to our site (see below).

This is a long standing Cascadia Marine Trail site, and one we don’t want to lose. Shaw County Park Council Letter.

If anyone is interested in seeing a video of the San Juan County Council’s November 12th meeting, see below:

Be sure the agenda is showing on the right hand side. It may open with the minutes page and if so, click on Agenda at the top.

Go to the 10:15 am slot to see Budget Presentations Continued. Click on Parks & Fair. Hold your cursor at the bottom edge of the picture of Council you will see times. Discussion about Shaw Island Park will begin at 3:53 of the 4:29 meeting duration.

https://media.avcaptureall.com/session.html?sessionid=d547bddd-4c8e-4b91-9cb9-2c692ad63471&prefilter=30,5838

I remember camping on Shaw as far back as the mid-eighties. I was co-leading a kayaking trip for the Northwest Outdoor Center. We had finished our dinner on a beautiful starry night, and one of the guests, a retired navy seal, asked if I wanted to go for a night paddle. We set off quietly paddling, when a live chorus suddenly sprang up from inside one of the sailboats anchored off the shore. It was a night I’ve never forgotten, and has compelled me to want to return to Shaw.

Just last summer we were asked to host a work party on Shaw, and have it in our planning for spring or summer of 2020. We hope we will not only go to Shaw to help clean-up, but also to spend the night.

We have received the following emails or seen these comments on Facebook:

– I spend my summers working in the San Juan Islands as an Outdoor Educator. Camping at Shaw Island County Park as a child was an impactful experience, inspiring me to study environmental engineering and prompting me to be more aware of how my actions impact the world around me. Shaw Island is a gem, with the spectuclar UW nature reserve and Shaw County Park. However, accomodations on the island are limited, and I am sure that closing camping on the island will decrease traffic and appreciation of these natural areas. As tourism in the islands increases, public camping becomes more difficult to secure, and further limiting camping spots will price many locals out of being able to take trips in the San Juans. Shaw County Park is an amazing resource, with beautiful sandy beaches, and a stunning view of the Olympic Mountains and I truly hope it will remain available to campers wanting to gain access to these public resources.

– Traveling from Boise, I have kayaked camped in the San Juans almost every year since I bought my NW kayak in Kirkland in 1995. I have visited Shaw campground and have planned a return visit for a group from home 2020. Please keep the campground open for your island residents that have no other beach access and another place for tourists like me to venture to and introduce our families to your wonderland. If you lose it, it’ll be gone forever.

– I am alarmed today upon learning through the Washington Water Trails Association that the county is considering closing Shaw County Park to overnight camping. This news is especially disheartening on the heels of the recent passage of the levy lid lift, which I voted for.

We camped at the Cascadia Marine Trail site last year when my wife and I took our children on their first overnight kayak trip. We used the county park as a base for a Shaw Island circumnavigation paddle that was a highlight of our summer.

Please ensure every budget option is explored before taking the drastic step of closing the campground. It is truly a treasure that I’m certain has created fond memories for many.

– I hope you will reconsider the closure of Shaw County Park for camping. I cannot in any way imagine how our disclosure will save money or benefit the community. In my experience, campsites are booked as soon as they become available, I have never seen an unoccupied site during frequent visits throughout the summer, and campers are responsible, low impact, and courteous.

There are very few places to camp in the San Juan islands, and the few that remain should be protected rather than eliminated. They provide benefit to families, opportunities for education and recreation that children don’t otherwise have, and an upstream intervention that no doubt results in improved public health.

I hope you will reconsider this closure.

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