A 54-acre property just south of Clinton on Whidbey will open to the public in 2020 as the Whidbey Camano Land Trust’s newest project, Possession Sound Preserve. <em>(Source: Whidbey Camano Land Trust) </em>

A 54-acre property just south of Clinton on Whidbey will open to the public in 2020 as the Whidbey Camano Land Trust’s newest project, Possession Sound Preserve. (Source: Whidbey Camano Land Trust)

Land trust saves half-mile stretch of Whidbey Island beach from development

The Whidbey Camano Land Trust’s 54-acre Possession Sound Preserve will open to the public in 2020.

CLINTON — Just south of Clinton on Whidbey Island, a forested hillside descends into an isolated beach, with rocky bluffs stretching into the distance and a view of Mount Baker appearing on a clear day.

The half-mile stretch of beach will open to the public in 2020 as the Whidbey Camano Land Trust’s newest project, Possession Sound Preserve.

As beachfront property is increasingly developed, the project is a rare chance to open undeveloped shoreline.

“There’s not very many opportunities to provide a new long stretch of natural beach,” said Ryan Elting, conservation director at the Trust.

The land’s previous owner built a road down to the beach through the 54-acre property ahead of its anticipated development. Now, that road will be used as a trail for people to get down to the water.

Had the road not been built already, there’s no way the Trust could have opened the beach up for public access, Elting said.

Building a trail today would have severe environmental impact, and securing permitting would be next to impossible, he said.

“We’re taking advantage of what was done out there and making it useful for a good purpose,” he said.

With local, state and federal grants, the Trust gathered $2.1 million to acquire the property.

Restoration projects will begin at the site shortly, including removal of toxic creosote pilings and stabilization of the 180-foot bluff.

The preserve will also benefit forage fish like Pacific herring, smelt and sand lance. These salmon-fodder species migrate along the stretch of shoreline while traveling to and from the Snohomish, Skagit and Stillaguamish rivers.

In the coming months, the trust will build a parking lot and add fencing and signage to the site. It should be open by fall of 2020, Elting said.

“It’s just a really beautiful beach and people are going to be excited to get down there,” he said.

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.com.

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