Get the beach under control

Several Bush Point residents attended the Port of South Whidbey’s meeting Wednesday to tell their side of the homeowners-versus-anglers story.

For years, Bush Point home and beach owners have clashed with fishers, who have regularly trespassed on and damaged private beaches while fishing.

At this week’s meeting, Bush Point resident Dave Moulton, who lives on on property adjacent to the beach, was the primary spokesman for the group. Approximately 10 Bush Point residents came to the meeting to inform the port of what has been happening in the area, and to give suggestions on how to handle the management in the future.

As it turns out, the situation isn’t as bad as it has been in the past.

“We’re getting along fine down there now,” Moulton said of the anglers and residents.

He said he thought it is primarily out-of-town anglers who cause the problems. Moulton said owning a house on the beach has been an eye-opening experience. He said while living there he has seen anglers build fires within 10 feet of his house, litter and urinate while waving to his wife on the porch. He’s also seen families camping, watched illegal fireworks set off on his beach and even had his life threatened when he attempted to extinguish a fire near his property.

“These people have no respect at all,” he said.

He said neighborhood residents believe the problems will only get worse when a proposed public boat launch is completed. He asked the port commissioners to consider an on-site caretaker once the launch and pier are completed.

Lynae Slinden, the port’s president, said she and fellow commissioner Gene Sears will consider hiring a full-time caretaker for the area.

Moulton said he and neighbors have contributed over $1,000 to purchase signs for the beach, including the large orange sign cemented in the center of the beach.

Slinden said she hopes once work on the pier and boat launch are completed, anglers at the beach will behave better. The construction project also includes permanent restrooms, visible garbage facilities and new parking areas.

In the meantime, the residents will do what they can to take back their beaches. Moulton said he and his neighbors recently started using a tag system to allow certain people on private property in front of their houses. Special tags — which hang on a long string to be worn — give permission to the anglers who they know, or, as Moulton said, anyone who “bothers” to ask him permission to fish on his property.

Chuck Edwards, the port’s interim manager, said giving those tags out could send those fishing the wrong message. He said it tells people people are allowed to stand there and fish.

Larry Schneider, who lives on Scurlock Road, said at the meeting that anglers shouldn’t be allowed to beach fish at Bush Point at all.

Edwards said the port can’t restrict beach fishing, and told Schneider he should send suggestions on closing the beach fishing to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Moulton suggested the port consider making signs for the Bush Point area directing people to other public fishing areas, such as the South Whidbey State Park or Fort Casey, to use as alternatives to using private property. The port agreed to take the suggestions into consideration.

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