Driftwood proliferation blocks beach access, but solution ‘still a long way off’

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Driftwood proliferation blocks beach access, but solution ‘still a long way off’

Winter storms for the past two years have flooded Clinton Beach with driftwood.

Winter storms for the past two years have flooded Clinton Beach with driftwood and blocked beach access for people with reduced mobility. Unfortunately, a solution will not be easy.

Island Beach Access volunteers installed bright blue mats three years ago to create an easy path up the beach. Clinton Beach was designated as the first universally accessible beach on the island because people in wheelchairs or with other mobility issues had a way to access the beach.

Now there’s a sea of ​​sun-bleached behemoths blocking the way for people who can’t climb the logs.

Island Beach Access volunteer Dale Christensen said it’s the most driftwood he’s ever seen at the beach and is easily double the normal amount. He said winter storms and a nearby drainage issue are some of the reasons the beach is covered in driftwood.

“It’s a mess right now, but we’re trying to find a solution,” he said.

Besides the logistics of removing the heavy logs nestled in the sand, there is a lot of paperwork to go through before the driftwood can be removed. Driftwood creates habitat for fish and can stabilize a beach.

Port of South Whidbey executive director Stan Reeves said the volunteer group coordinated initial conversations with several state agencies on the issue.

Removal of driftwood from most Washington State beaches is prohibited or requires a permit from the state Department of Natural Resources. Lost logs may be allowed to be removed if they pose a threat to “navigation, life, property, the environment, or a public aquatic resource and applicable regulatory agencies authorize removal,” according to a fact sheet. state information.

“Unfortunately, the actual removal of the Clinton Beach driftwood is still a long way off,” Reeves wrote in an email.

Island Beach Access has made progress in improving access to another South End beach. The mobility-conscious group secured permits to install two parking spaces at Robinson Beach in Mutiny Bay that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The volunteers also plan to move the blue mats from Clinton Beach to the other beach as they cannot be used.

They asked for a grant for part of the cost, but would welcome donations for new parking spaces and for more mats, but need almost $5,000 more. Anyone interested in his work can contact [email protected] for more information.

Photo by Emily Gilbert/South Whidbey Record The amount of driftwood at Clinton Beach has increased dramatically after the winter storms of the previous two years.

Photo by Emily Gilbert/South Whidbey Record A couple and their dog climb Clinton Beach driftwood that has accumulated after winter storms.

Photo by Emily Gilbert/South Whidbey Record A couple and their dog climb Clinton Beach driftwood that has accumulated after winter storms.

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