PENINSULA - Changes are coming in how Pacific County and the City of Long Beach deal with many illegal beach roads, with a goal of swiftly limiting their use by motor vehicles.
"It is important to be aware of several things about this project," said Mike DeSimone of the county. "Most importantly, this project does not have anything to do with vehicular traffic on the beaches. Your ability to drive on the ocean beaches is not compromised or impacted by this project."
"The only change," DeSimone continued, "is that if you currently use un-maintained roads to drive to the beach, you will need to start using one of the maintained beach approach roads listed below to gain vehicular access to the beach. In addition, this project will not preclude pedestrian or equestrian use of these right-of-ways.
"The signage and the barricades will not prevent you from walking or riding your horse through the dunes to the beach. The purpose of this project is to reduce the amount of illegal vehicular driving in the dunal areas and hopefully, reduce the amount of needless destruction in the dunes."
The county and city have teamed up with the Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission and the Washington State Department of Ecology under a Coastal Zone Management Grant to try to reduce the use and existence of the various unauthorized dune roads through a combination of education, signage and road closures.
The purpose of this grant is to identify those illegal roads having a significant impact on the dunal system, work to educate/inform the general public about the impacts and the need to manage these areas for future generations. This will entail placing consistent and appropriate signage at each of these roads and along the Seashore Conservation Area informing the public of the road closures, and eventually physically blocking these roads to prevent the continued unauthorized vehicular use and instead direct traffic onto the maintained beach approach roads.
Currently, Pacific County and the City of Long Beach routinely maintain several ocean beach approach roads on the Peninsula to ensure the public has adequate access to the public beaches. The county and city routinely grades and places rock on these beach approach roads to ensure access on and off the beach is attainable by most vehicles. The state of Washington contributes funding towards this maintenance activity.
But in addition to the authorized beach access roads in Seaview, 10th Street South, Bolstad, Cranberry, Klipsan, Ocean Park and Oysterville, approximately 30 unauthorized and illegal roads crisscross the Peninsula dunes, providing unmanaged and uncontrolled vehicular access through the dunal system to the ocean beaches.
The result of these unauthorized roads is that, in some instances, significant degradation has occurred in the dunal areas as off-road vehicles running through the dunes have led to the destruction of significant wildlife habitat while exposing adjoining residential areas to the threat of fire during the summer months. These illegal dune breaches have also increased the threat of flooding to adjoining residential property as the natural flood protection offered by the primary dune is compromised.
The governing statutory authorities, namely the Washington State Shorelines Management Act, the Washington State Seashore Conservation Act and the individual Shoreline Master Programs of Pacific County and Long Beach, prohibit the driving of vehicles through the dunes on non-authorized or non-permitted roads. Both Long Beach and the county have the legal authority to close unmaintained county right of ways as deemed necessary while the Washington State Parks has the statutory authority to limit vehicular traffic on or near the Seashore Conservation Line.
Beginning this summer, signs will be placed at all of the unauthorized and unmaintained dune roads where they intersect with State Route 103, at the westerly edge of the existing improvements and at the Seashore Conservation Line on the ocean front. These signs will inform the general public about the prohibition of vehicular use on these roads and that the use is limited to pedestrian or equestrian use only.
Road closures will be conducted using a combination of concrete blocks, rocks and/or fencing. Fencing will be installed on the ocean side to block vehicular access and as a means of trapping blowing sand in order to aid in rebuilding the dune breaches.
Native vegetation will be allowed to reestablish itself within these old roads and will be augmented with plantings where practical. Enforcement of the closures will be the responsibility of each of the jurisdictions. Some of the illegal road closures have already occurred in the Cape Disappointment and Long Beach areas as a result of the Lewis & Clark trail construction.
If you have any questions or comments about this project, call any one of the following individuals.
City of Long Beach
Washington State Parks