Peninsula: Plenty of beach, but limited access, study says

PORT ANGELES — State residents often put California down.

It’s a fun, safe sport much of the time.

But in one realm, California trumps Washington.

And that’s in beach access.

So says Roger Hoesterey, vice president and Northwest regional director for The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit land conservation organization.

On Monday, the trust released a new study that analyzed 2,500 miles of shoreline statewide in an attempt to identify how much of it is accessible to the public.

The last such study was conducted in 1985.

Hoesterey was visiting Port Townsend on Tuesday, meeting with Jefferson County officials about the study’s results.

The new findings are not particularly good news for beach lovers in Clallam or Jefferson counties.

Unlike California and Oregon, Washington sold much of its tidelands to private owners, a practice that was stopped in 1971.

That allows many property owners to fence off beach access points or to place no-trespassing signs.

According to the trust’s study — accessible at www.tpl.org — only about 27 of Clallam County’s 160 miles of coastline from Sequim to Neah Bay are accessible to the public.

That works out to about 17 percent.

On the east coast of Jefferson County, 38 of its 200 coastline miles are open to the public.

That’s about 19 percent.

Of the 2,500 miles of state coastline analyzed in the trust’s study, 16 percent is in public ownership, Hoesterey said.

“Of that, 8 percent is accessibly by land,” he said.

“The rest you need a boat to get to.”

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