Sand build-up leads to closure of Mutiny Bay boat ramp

The boat launch at Mutiny Bay will remain closed due to sand obstructing access until Island County officials can work out a deal with neighbors, according to Kelly Ojala, assistant public works director.

Ojala explained that residents in the area voiced concerns in 2017 about sand building up near the boat launch, which is owned by the Port of South Whidbey and maintained by the county.

The county had been sending out a loader to clear the accumulated sand once a week. Sometimes the sand was piled 10 feet high.

As a result of the concerns, the county hired a consultant to do an engineering study of the area. Ojala explained that study found the ramp was disrupting a natural process and preventing sand from being deposited on other beaches, leading to erosion.

The solution, Ojala said, is for the county to spread the sand on the privately owned beaches north of the ramp.

The problem, however, was that the owners of the homes nearest the ramp to the north were not interested in allowing the county to spread sand on their beaches.

“The first couple of homes, they have plenty of beach in front on their homes,” he said.

But the owners of beaches farther north wanted the extra sand because of erosion of their beaches, Ojala said. One resident estimated he lost several feet of sand in just the last few years.

The county would need the permission of the residents nearest the ramp in order to travel across their beaches to the homes farther on.

Island County had been clearing the sand under a maintenance permit from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, which expired at the end of 2019. The state wants the county to come up with a solution to the problem before the permit is renewed.

As a result, the boat ramp has been unusable.

Ojala said the county is continuing to work on negotiating with the neighbors and he’s hopeful an agreement can be reached.

In the meantime, the nearest beach launch is at Bush Point.

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