If you enjoy boating in the San Juans and use the Sandy Point Marina as your harbor, you may be seeing the land change before your own eyes.
It all began when the new oil refinery docks were put into place, changing the drift that moves gravel through the ocean. Over time, this drift began dropping gravel and other sediments into the mouth of our beloved canal. At first it didn’t appear to be causing much of an issue, but 40+ years later the mouth of our canal has gone through an extreme transformation. It is now incredibly difficult to navigate through the opening to our safe harbor without checking the tides and avoiding running aground in what should be a clear access area. Years ago a deal was made with the Army Corps of Engineers, allowing us to dredge the canal and have the majority of the costs be covered by the Corps… this was shot down as it would have added an assessment to the property owners of Sandy Point. Unfortunately, we are paying for it now with the inability to relax when we are coming home from a boating trip.
What problems are we facing now and why can it be fixed?
– The local tribe. They will not allow anyone to repair the issue as they are claiming rights to the land held in trust by our government.
– Financial. Costs a lot of money to dredge out the canal and create a safer harbor.
I’m sure there are many other issues to take into account, but this is something that has been repeated in multiple conversation.
What can be done?
– Find a company willing to take the majority of the cost in order to harvest the gravel that has been deposited in our marina.
The amount of sand and gravel that has been deposited in the area would be a huge get for any local sand/gravel company. Some cost could be picked up by property owners, but a larger sand/gravel company should be able to cover most costs for a chance at this amount of gravel.
– Work with the federal government to clear a water passage set up for safe harbor. The tribe answers to the federal government and would need to bow out in order to allow for the land to return to its original form. Many government departments use our canal for different purposes, including Fish and Wildlife, Homeland Security, and our very own Coast Guard. Tribal members frequently use this harbor, whether it is to escape the elements or for their own personal use. This needs to be cleared.
– Dig from the inside! This would help avoid any issues with tribal, as the inside of the canal should be considered state property and able to be managed by the SPIC. Digging from the inside out would allow for the canal to free up space for any current gravel to fall into place. Dig close enough to the ocean facing shore and natural forces should push that land back into the canal and help reshape the land.
These are just some ideas, but this is something that should start being discussed more frequently. And if a ‘go ahead’ was provided by the government, we’d need to make sure the land wouldn’t return to the current form it is in.
Thanks for reading!