Follow us:

Northwest Traveler

Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

March 22, 2013 at 5:48 PM

National Monument will protect Cattle Point, Turn Point, other San Juan Islands treasures

Big news if you love the San Juan Islands: Word is that President Obama on Monday will order the creation of a San Juan Islands National Monument, which will give permanent protection to some of the prettiest and most treasured spots in the archipelago — essentially all island sites under the auspices of the federal Bureau of Land Management.

Turn Point light station on Stuart Island will become part of the new national monument. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

Turn Point light station on Stuart Island will become part of the new national monument. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

On ferry-served islands, that includes soul-soothing scenery such as San Juan Island’s Cattle Point lighthouse, a lonely sentry at the windswept edge of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Lopez Island landmark of Chadwick Hill, where I’ve counted dozens of turkey vultures soaring on updrafts above gorgeous little Watmough Bight, a favorite saltwater hidey-hole for boaters with a hermit gene.

Speaking of hermit boaters, other favorite island locales that will be protected forever include lonely little Patos Island lighthouse, a wandering spot for boaters lucky enough to nab the buoy in Active Cove (so named, perhaps, because tidal action will give you an active night as your moored boat spins about).

Also on the list is Turn Point light station, which attracts legions of boaters who moor at Reid and Prevost harbors and walk the meandering “cow-path” road across the island, past Stuart Island’s famed one-room schoolhouse (which currently has two students) and the Boundary Pass Traders serve-yourself (and pay by the honor system) T-shirt stand. Turn Point is where my family had our best-ever orca sighting, as a superpod came around the point, swimming right into the kelp within 10 feet of shore;

A pod of orca whales passes Turn Point. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

A pod of orca whales passes Turn Point. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

it took 45 minutes for them all to pass by, to the thrill of a motley crew of salty hikers who waited and watched in awe until the last whale breached out of the water for a finale. BLM, with the aid of volunteers, has been doing a good job of restoring the old lightkeeper’s house at the site and has created a small museum there.

Click here to see a map of all BLM property in the islands, much of which includes small, rocky islets that are popular with seabirds and sea lions.

Monument status also assigns these lands to BLM’s National Conservation Lands, which directs BLM to work closely with the local community on a management plan and prevents potential development or sale.

Barbara Marrett at the San Juan Islands Visitor Bureau was quick to crow about the achievement, calling it a “cause for local celebration,” crediting island citizens who worked hard and long to make it happen, along with the state’s congressional delegation, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who visited the islands several times during the process of consideration.

Patos Island light, in foreground, is among dramatic locations to be part of the national monument. Mount Constitution, on Orcas Island, rises in the background. (photo by Steve Ringman, The Seattle Times)

Patos Island light, in foreground, is among dramatic locations to be part of the national monument. Mount Constitution, on Orcas Island, rises in the background. (photo by Steve Ringman, The Seattle Times)

Comments | Topics: cattle point, chadwick hill, patos island


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►