Park now open to the public for day use, seven days a week
OLYMPIA – June 20, 2014 – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community earlier this week celebrated a landmark partnership when the two entities officially opened the Kukutali Preserve in Similk Bay near La Conner.
Kukutali Preserve was opened to the public with a special ceremony on June 16 that included keynote addresses from Washington State Parks Director Don Hoch, State Parks Commission Chair Lucinda Whaley and Swinomish Tribal Chairman Brian Cladoosby. Also attending the ceremony were members of the tribal Senate and community, state parks commissioners and staff.
Kukutali Preserve is believed to be the first park in the United States to be co-owned and co-managed by a tribe and another government, such as a state. Management of the Preserve will focus on conservation and research, public education and limited recreational use.
“It’s a great day to be making history,” Cladoosby said during his keynote address at the opening ceremony. “It’s going to be great for visitors to witness and see the beauty that we’ve seen here forever. This wouldn’t have been possible without a lot of people coming together to make sure this dream became a reality.”
“State Parks is honored to be working in partnership with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community,” Hoch said. “We all share a deep commitment to preserving and protecting this site, with its unique natural resources and cultural significance.”
Kukutali Preserve, located entirely within the Swinomish Reservation, includes 84 upland acres on Kiket Island and Flagstaff Point and 9 upland acres on Fidalgo Island. The Preserve has more than 2 miles of nearly intact shoreline, with native eelgrass beds and diverse populations of fish and shellfish. Numerous endangered or threatened species make their home in the preserve’s diverse habitats, which include old-growth trees. Flagstaff Point, west of Kiket Island, supports a rare type of environment called a “rocky bald,” which has a fragile, thin soil that hosts a unique community of native plants and nesting waterfowl. To protect this vulnerable ecosystem, access to Flagstaff Point is prohibited. The Preserve also contains cultural resources of significance to the Swinomish tribe.
Currently, the Preserve offers 2 miles of walking trails with plans to add an ADA-accessible boardwalk, a trail and amenities such as a picnic shelter, picnic sites, interpretive information and two vault restrooms.
Prior to the opening of the Preserve, the only way the general public could visit the site was through prearranged tours on Saturdays. Now the public can visit the site, using the six-stall parking lot on Snee-Oosh Road. The Preserve is open for day use, with no overnight facilities. Vehicles will be limited to the parking lot, and the remainder of the site is accessible only by foot. Directions to the Preserve from Highway 20 and Reservation Road are available here: j.mp/1uH3NyG. The parking lot is on the Northwest corner of Snee-Oosh and Kiket Island roads, west of La Conner.
State Parks acquired the upland portion of the property in June 2010 after it had been in private ownership for almost 100 years. The Trust for Public Land played an instrumental role in managing the acquisition of the property. The satellite park is managed as a unit of the Deception Pass State Park Area. The site is open daily from dawn to dusk. A Discover Pass is required to park at the Preserve. The public is asked to stay on the trails to help protect sensitive habitats and species.
More information and background on the Kukutali Preserve management and master plan available here: www.parks.wa.gov/299/Kukutali-Preserve
About Washington State Parks
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.
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