Island Beach Access Newsletter
Email                            June 25, 2017                             DONATE


Background: Early in 2016, mobility-challenged members of our community contacted IBA and made impassioned pleas to create universal accessibility to our public beaches. They are frustrated and humiliated by their being no universally accessible public beach access anywhere on Whidbey Island. This prevents people using wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, canes, strollers, and anyone who is unsteady on their feet or just doesn’t want to risk injury climbing over wet or unstable driftwood from accessing our beautiful public beaches. Indeed, they can only view the beach from the parking lot. This is particularly difficult for returning wounded military personnel. They have made immense sacrifices for us and yet we deny them the ability to access the beaches they helped to defend.

As an integral part of our inclusive and welcoming Whidbey Island community, IBA pledged to act. We created a Universally Accessibility Campaign for our public beaches. Although this has been a complex, lengthy, and costly process, IBA has received generous, broad-based community support. We have developed a pilot project to modify an existing local public beach to create a truly universally accessible public beach. Accessibility to the tidelands will involve creating ADA compliant van parking spaces and a 6-foot wide pathway to and from the beach. This pathway will be covered with seasonally placed ADA-approved permeable and removable AccessMats, which will allow universal accessibility to this public beach.

This project will be a model for future public beach accessibility projects in Island County and throughout the Salish Sea to better serve all individuals wanting to get to our public beaches.

Milestones:  January 2016 - March 2017

  • We chose Clinton Beach Park (N. end of the ferry) for our first project.
  • We proposed a plan to the S. Whidbey Port Commission. They approved the project and took it on as a joint venture.
  • The Port Commission agreed to fund half of the $16,000 project costs, which included all permits, purchase, delivery, and installation of pervious pavers and AccessMats, and use of their backhoe and support personnel.
  • The project involves:
    • Moving a berm and creating 2 van-sized parking spaces as well as a connection to the picnic shelter using pervious pavers,
    • A designated path to the edge of pavement,
    • Moving driftwood and removing creosote logs to clear space for the AccessMats.
    • Smoothing/grading the beach surface above the high tide line for the replaceable mats.
  • We applied for and were granted a Shoreline Exemption Permit (fee $550). Several conditions had to be met:
    • A Flood Plain Development Permit had to be issued by the IC Bldg. Dept.
    • The biological site/Habitat Assessment, which usually costs $4000, was created and modified to conform with Island County and also the FEMA format. Dawn Pucci, a local biologist with Stansbury Technical Services, graciously donated this Assessment at no fee.
    • The IC Bldg. Dept. had to review and approve the plan. The FEMA fee of $515 was generously by the Port of South Whidbey.
    • Finally, procedures for handling uncovered tribal artifacts had to be followed.
  • The completed Federal, State, and County permit package required almost a full year to assemble. It was presented at the Port of S. Whidbey Commissioners Meeting April 11, 2017, and approved. Permit fees approached $2000, and were generously donated by the Port of South Whidbey.

Plans for completion:

  • Thanks to a tremendous effort by the Port of South Whidbey, the site work is nearly complete.
  • At long last IBA, the Port Commission, and its collaborators have ordered 2/3 of the materials to complete the pilot project in our WI Public Beaches Universal Accessibility Campaign.
  • The S. Whidbey Fire Dept. has generously offered to provide work parties as they are needed.
  • The result will be two new ADA van parking spots, and a 6 x 220 ft. path through the driftwood. Every May the beach Access Mats will be staked down on the path, and removed and stored every fall. We currently have funding for 120 ft. of AccessMats, but need an additional $5000 for the remaining 100 ft.
  • This is the point at which the funding level becomes critical. Additional community support is being sought. Please visit our Go Fund Me at or click the donate button below.


  • Visit our information booth, Saturday July 1, 10:00 am. We'll be at the Coupeville Farmer's Market.
  • Wonn Road End Beach Walk, Saturday, July 22, 9:30 am. Park and meet at the Greenbank Farm and walk the negative tide from the Wonn Road End Beach Access north to the Holmes Harbor Estate boat ramp then back to Greenbank Farm.

All donations are tax deductable if made through our fiscal sponsor, Whidbey Island Land & Shore Trust 501(c)3.


   Get involved! Attend a monthly meeting held at the WiFire Cafe (Whidbey Telecom) in Freeland on the second Friday of every month, see our events calendar for our next meeting date, or email

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