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Open-air picnic shelter planned for Maury Island Marine Park

A simple picnic shelter overlooking the beach could soon be constructed at Maury Island Marine Park, providing a respite and destination for those visiting the dramatic and primitive park.

A group of Islanders has been working with King County officials for more than a year to see that an open-air structure be installed near the beach at the county-owned park, which was once a gravel mining site.

The beach, more than a half-mile trek down a wide trail through the 320-acre swath of land, is one of the longest unspoiled stretches of shoreline — 7,000 feet — in King County, said Adam Atwell, a member of Friends of Maury Park, the group created to support and foster improvements at the county site.

The picnic shelter would be the only man-made structure on that long stretch of beach and will likely be located 165 feet back from the average high-tide line, he said.

“It’ll be nice for walkers along the beach and boaters to see an unfragmented, more natural shoreline,” said Pat Collier, a member of Friends of Maury Park.

TJ Davis, who works for the county’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks, will present a proposal for siting the picnic shelter there when the Friends of Maury Park meets Jan. 11, Atwell said.

Placing the open-air structure — which proponents hope will be big enough for two good-sized picnic tables — 165 feet from the high-tide line would set it on a plateau back from the water but still with a panoramic view of Puget Sound.

“We'll create a focal point where people will go, and there will be one location that's fairly impacted, but the rest will be well preserved,” Atwell said.

Siting the shelter so far back from the water also takes into account the sensitive nature of the beach, a marine riparian area that juvenile salmon frequent on their migration through the Puget Sound.

King County asks homeowners to respect a 165-foot buffer zone between the beach and structures and landscaping they create, and Collier said it’s only right that King County carry this out when constructing a picnic structure on county park property.

“The county should be modeling appropriate shore-

line land use," Collier said.

Previously, the Friends of Maury Park had discussed locating a picnic shelter much closer to the beach, but some Islanders objected to the idea, citing the health of the nearshore environment.

“Impervious surfaces are not good for the marine environment,” Collier said. “This just makes so much more sense to me.”

To help restore the park to a more native, healthy state, People For Puget Sound held several work parties at the park in 2009, tearing out invasive plants such as blackberry and Scotch broom.

Also earlier this year, King County constructed an overlook high above the beach of Maury Island Marine Park, a viewpoint platform with two picnic tables and a sweeping view of the treed slope leading to the park’s beach as well as the water and shorelines beyond.

Creating the overlook was an idea the Friends of Maury Park came up with in 2008 and was quickly carried out by county contractors in May 2009.

“That thing gets used quite a lot,” Atwell said.

Thanks to a grant, King County will also fund the creation of the picnic shelter, which could be constructed from a predesigned kit or partly using materials recycled from the dock that was taken down from Maury Park in 2008, Atwell said.

“We would like to reuse the dock timbers that are down there,” he said. “But it may be more realistic to get a kit that’s already been certified, approved and engineered, buy it and throw it together.”

Also in the works at the park is the placement of interpretive signs designed by Island artist Sandra Noel, as well as maps at the park’s trailhead and perhaps benches at some locations, he added.

Meeting

The Friends of Maury Park will hold their next meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11, at the Land Trust Building. The siting of the picnic shelter will be discussed. Representatives from King County and People for Puget Sound will be present.

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