A Parks Commission status report, published in 1958, pointed out
that "Because of the growing popularity of pleasure boating in Puget Sound, the
Commission is constantly on the alert for additional areas that will serve
boating enthusiasts." With the advent of small gasoline and diesel engines, the
postwar surge in outboard engine development, and inexpensive fiberglass
building systems, more and more families were able to buy boats. Unlike their
East Coast counterparts, Washington sailors can use their boats yearround,
as the Sound does not freeze in winter and, for the most part, temperatures
remain moderate. The long "season" guarantees that investments in facilities are
worthwhile. Indeed, Washington leads most of the nation in per capita boat
The first park with marine facilities was Deception Pass, which
was acquired in 1922. Though the park at first had no mooring buoys or floats,
it quickly became obvious that, along with shorebased campsites and picnic
tables, the park needed places for boaters to tie up. Further north, in 1926,
the Parks Committee gave a permit to the Bellingham Yacht Club to build a
breakwater and floats in Larrabee State Park. In 1928, the Committee decided to
charge boaters a small fee for the use of moorages. In addition, many areas were
informally used by sailors as parks, even though they were not owned by the
Commission. Coon Cove, the present site of Squaxin Island State Park, was one
such spot, along with Matia Island in the San Juan group.
By 1949, the Commission directed the staff to look for suitable
marine parks, and the staff responded by listing some 40 potential areas. Not
all of these were acquired, but the list gave the Commission a working knowledge
of appropriate locations for marine facilities. The Commission's saltwater marine parks fall into two categories-those
that have both land and water access, and those that can only be reached by
water. The Commission recognized early in the marine park planning process that
many areas of the Sound were suitable for waterfront parks, but that land access
for nonboaters just wasn't always possible. Many of the small parks in the
San Juan Islands fall into this category. The large islands of the group have
regular ferry service, thus providing nonboaters with access to parks and
other facilities on the islands. However, it is not economical to provide public
ferry service to the countless small islands that complete the group. These
small islands are still ideal for boataccessonly parks, patronized by
those who, own or charter boats.
Many parks with saltwater frontage also have boating facilities.
These parks, like Penrose Point near Longbranch, can be reached by car or boat.
Such facilities cater to the needs of both car and boat users. The Commission
provides mooring buoys and, in some parks, floats for boat mooring. These
saltwater marine parks are extremely popular, and are heavily used. Thousands of
instate and outofstate boaters charter vessels each summer and
head for the most popular destination, the San Juan Islands. Marine parks are
scattered throughout Puget Sound and its a adjacent waters, and boaters in any
area of the Sound have access to many water parks.
In 1959, 318 acres of Sucia Island State Park were donated to
the Parks Commission after extensive fund raising by the Interclub Boating
Association of Washington.