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!
I am in support of dredging the entrance! Let me know how I can help.
Contact the SPIC board and demand that they take action! They plan is in place, and the funds are available in the SPIC account, and this is exactly what they are there for. However, the current board will likely be voted out come September, but they do have the ability to do the right thing until then.
Looking at property out there. Any latest news?
PS Base on what I have read the Natives have a pretty firm legal precedent to the accreted land so they would have to see it as advantageous for them or else dredge only land below the mean high tide line. Then you would still have to get through the Coastal Protection Act. Wait too long and if it closes up all the accreted land belongs to the Natives. I assume the backflow from the canals would provide some sort of limited opening, maybe!
The natives have rights outside of the canal, and fortunately all the dredging that needs to take place is within the canal and the line they control. The canal bottom is privately owned, and SPIC can take action to get it dredged… but they aren’t. This board needs to step up and actually do something other than approve pop machines and get a food truck out here.
SPIC should take up the leadership here, can you imagine the drop in property value if the Canal is in accessible ?
SPIC is supposed to, and had the opportunity to, but they denied providing any help. They even stated that it hadn’t been brought up to them. This board has something to do, other than bring an ice machine to a marina people won’t be able to use. Sad stuff.
I am so disappointed that I can not keep my boat at my dock here in Sandy Point because of the canal issues. Something has to be done to restore the harbor entrance before we own lake front property!
What about working with a Lummi Construction Company to dredge the canal and keep the gravel to sell? Then it would be a win-win situation for the Lummi nation and Sandy Point residents!
We are all disappointed, and even more so now because there are people willing to get this done and the current board has no interest in working towards making it happen… which is their job. Without the canal dredged, having a dock is much less favorable here. Not being able to come and go as you please kills the dock rentals for the Sandy Point Marina, which takes away from the revenue for this great community. I have even found a buyer for the gravel that is dredged, as I am sure the others have as well, though without the support and participation of the SPIC board… it’s hopeless. We have a very large reserve of cash, and stuff like this is what it is place for. It is time to dredge it. Thank you for your comments!
I think the tribe is trying to make life difficult for SPIC, why would they co-operate? Maybe the only way is to pay them some compensation.for their approval to dredge.
Though the tribe does not wish to have the canal dredged, they do not have authority over the inside of the canal, which is what needs to be dredged the most. Rip rap should be put in place to stop the gravel flow, but that is what the tribe will not allow. Funny, as doing so would save the tide flats, as the water flow of the channels have changed drastically over time. Bottom line, it is a safe harbor, and all parties should participate in getting it handled. I recommend voicing your thoughts to the current board and getting them to act, as the louder the voices, the more pressure to act. However, it may not matter in a month, as most will be voted off of the board and hopefully those that wish to take action will be in charge.
If the gravel accumulation is caused by the oil refinery, why not ask them to contribute?
Great point, and I believe that was in discussion 10-15 years ago. If anyone has money to correct a mistake or contribute, it would be an oil refinery. Plus, their boats work out of the marina… so there is that.
Maybe we should organize a protest group and invite the press, block entrance to refinery. It will put this issue right in front of the refinery management.
I like the passion, though I think getting all on board with SPIC is the first step, then once approved and all in place… then the refinery can hear from the community.
Why is the Board doing nothing? Is there something that is happening and the Board is unable to disclose at this time because of confidentiality or strategic issues? Knowing the urgency of the problem, there must be a reason for the Board to remain silent.
That is the million dollar question, and I highly recommend reaching out to them; firstname.lastname@example.org The more to voice their concern, the more likely they are to act. However, I highly doubt many of these board members will be in place come September, so they will say they will act and then step aside when voted out. Dealing with this matter takes a lot of fortitude, and those that wanted to tackle this issue were voted out… and nobody wanted to work on this issue, even though it is the most pressing. If the issues are easy, like getting a pop machine or ice machine for the marina… easy. But if it is to dredge the marina and fill all of our dock spaces (adding a lot of income), then that is too much work.
I am new to Sandy Point and not familiar with all the association protocols yet. Do residents get to vote for the board members running? How do we get on the board? Looks like we need to get involved so members with the motivation to get dredging done will make it a priority! I will make a point of letting the board know of my concerns about not moving forward with the dredging project! We all need to get involved NOW. We all benefit from keeping Sandy Point a safe harbor and not a lake!
Thank you for your comment. The board has positions that come available yearly, though are generally a 2-year position. (If I’m not mistaken) The voting is done at the yearly shareholder meeting held in September. Please know that we are not an HOA, either, no matter how many times this current board makes the mistake in saying it. An HOA would give a ton more power to the board, and would be a bad move. The dredging project is a priority, and they haven’t done a dang thing about it since I highlighted it at a board meeting nearly a year ago. They are lying if they say it wasn’t brought to their attention, or they are clueless of their community. The canal brings revenue to the marina/community, improves the value of all properties, and brings up the way of life here at Sandy Point.