Local, state and federal agencies that manage lands or recreation facilities in the San Juan Islands sponsored a study in 2017 to collect better information about use, impacts, visitors and preferences for management. The study addresses several questions related to San Juan Islands tourism, public lands and recreation areas. The goal is to describe visitor experiences on San Juan Islands public lands, their trips, their opinions about impacts or problems and their views on management actions that might be used to address problems.
The study included:
– A survey of ferry passengers (visitors and residents)
– Surveys of visitors to attraction sites (e.g., Lime Kiln State Park, Moran State Park, Shark Reef Sanctuary)
– Counts and observations of use at attraction sites
– An inventory of accommodations on the three main islands (San Juan, Orcas and Lopez)
– An analysis of visitation from Washington State Ferries, other passenger ferries, airlines and marinas
Information will be used to inform decisions about development (campgrounds, lodging, roads and parking), recreation uses (boating, biking and trail networks) and ways to manage or better distribute use to enhance the quality or sustainability of visitor experiences. It is anticipated to facilitate efficiencies in cooperative planning among recreation managers.
The study, funded through county lodging tax grant and National Park Service investment, is being conducted for several agencies (including San Juan County Parks, San Juan County Land Bank, San Juan Islands Visitor Bureau, Washington State Parks, Washington State Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service) by Confluence Research and Consulting. For more information about the study, contact Dr. Doug Whittaker at 907-346-3769 or Dona Wuthnow, Parks and Fair director at 360-370-7452.
Highlights from the study will be presented at four public events. The presentations will run about 1.25 hours, integrated with about 45 minutes of discussion. The scheduled times are as follows:
– Monday, Feb. 26, from 9 to 11 a.m. the San Juan County Council meeting in Friday Harbor
– Monday, Feb. 26, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Orcas Island Senior Center
– Tuesday, Feb. 27, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Grace Episcopal Church on Lopez
– Wednesday, Feb. 28, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the San Juan Public Library