Miller Peninsula State Park study, decision has been paused

State funding awaits for development of site’s master plan

SEQUIM — A study of future uses for Miller Peninsula State Park is paused until the state Legislature provides funding to develop a master plan, according to Michael Hankinson, parks planner for the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

The earliest the master planning process could begin is July 1, 2023, so a decision on the commission’s preferred alternative is likely in 2024 as a conclusion to the master planning process, he wrote.

The park’s future was the subject of a town hall-style meeting Oct. 18 that drew more than 200 people to a 7 Cedars Resort meeting room in Blyn.

The 2,800-acre undeveloped park east of Sequim, which includes a trail system built and maintained by local hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians through second-growth forest, has long been eyed by state planners as a “destination park.”

However, property neighbors, park users and other Olympic Peninsula residents continue to express their concerns.

The Clallam County commissioners voted unanimously on Monday to send a letter supporting the study of a “natural forest area for day use and educational purposes” use for the park as well as encouraging planning for seismic and natural disasters.

“We know you heard about the myriad concerns held by those who live on the Miller Peninsula and expect that many of these concerns will be addressed as the planning process moves forward,” the letter said.

“We do encourage you to formally consider a fourth option for park development, namely the ‘natural forest area, day use and educational purposes’ option that many Diamond Point residents are requesting.

“This is different than the ‘no changes’ analysis that will be embedded in the SEPA process and outlines a different vision for future use of this state,” it continued.

“As you work through the next phase of planning we hope that you will give sufficient attention to the realities surrounding planning for natural disasters. We know you are already building plans related to wildlife danger and want to be sure you are also considering planning for a major seismic event like the Cascadia earthquake.”

(It isn’t a matter of if, but when, the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Coast will unleash a quake of at least 9.0-magnitude, experts have said. Such a quake is estimated by researchers to hit much of the West Coast up to every 600 years. The Pacific Northwest is in year 322 of that cycle. The last one hit Jan. 26, 1700.)

Hankinson’s email said the commission’s consultant, J. Breenan Associates, is summarizing the planning work conducted so far, which staff will review at the beginning of 2023 for completeness.

The park east of Sequim, which includes a trail system built and maintained by local hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians through second-growth forest, has long been eyed by state planners as a “destination park.”

Since at least the mid-2000s, parks officials have approved a vision for a “nature within reach” park, with options that include a central village lodging and amenities, wildlife viewing, interpretive displays and day and night use (lodging and camping).

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at brian.gawley@soundpublishing.com.

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