County seeks public input on Whidbey trail system

Easier access to the beach in the plans

Residents who like to explore Whidbey’s wonders “with their hands and feet” are encouraged to help improve and expand recreational opportunities.

An update on the 2006 Non-Motorized Trails Plan will be presented at several locations this week and public involvement is key, said Brian Wood, transportation planner with Island County Public Works.

“We need input from runners, cyclists, paddlers, walkers, equestrians, fishing enthusiasts, sand castle builders, and anyone else who explores Island County with their hands and feet,” he said.

An ambitious goal of building a biking and walking trail along the entire length of Whidbey Island from the Deception Pass bridge to Clinton’s ferry dock, known as “Bridge to Boat,” is part of the non-motorized trail system concept.

The trail is being built in sections as right-of-way clearance and funding allows.

Segments of the paved trail roll alongside State Highway 525 near Coupeville; construction on another section near Freeland begins this spring and a third section from Ken’s Corner to Clinton could be completed in three years, Wood said.

For those liking to comb and roam the beauty of Whidbey’s beaches, shoreline access is being addressed at the open houses.

“Shoreline access is new, it wasn’t addressed at all in the past,” Wood said. “We really did not go out and talk to the crabbers, and the beach-walkers and the fishermen. This time we wanted to make sure the shoreline got some strong emphasis.”

One goal is to prevent another Wonn Road situation that pitted private landowners against the county for years, Wood explained. An out-of-court agreement was recently reached on Wonn Road, located near Greenbank Farm, that allows public access with some restrictions.

Finding and designating more of Whidbey and Camano islands’ shoreline as open to all “should provide a better understanding of where public property starts and stops in Island County,” Wood said.

n Non-Motorized Trail open houses are 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. as follows: Wednesday, Feb. 1, Oak Harbor Middle School Library, 150 SW Sixth Ave, Oak Harbor; Thursday, Feb. 2, Coupeville Library, 788 Alexander St, Coupeville, and; Friday, Feb. 3, South Whidbey Elementary Community Room, 5380 Maxwelton Road, Langley.