News Flash

Environmental Stewardship News

Posted on: August 23, 2023

Preliminary Draft of San Juan Islands Destination Management Plan Now Available for Public Review

Environmental Stewardship

SAN JUAN COUNTY, WA. August 23, 2023 – San Juan County is creating the San Juan Islands Destination Management Plan (SDMP) to thoughtfully guide visitation that both supports and enhances the unique quality of life, environment, and cultural heritage of the San Juan Islands. The goal for this project is to develop an actionable plan that meets the needs of our community, environment, economy, and visitors. The Plan will lay out a shared community vision, goals, and implementation measures to thoughtfully guide sustainable tourism in the San Juan Islands, now and into the future.

The County invites residents to provide input on the preliminary draft of the SDMP:

1. Provide comments via the Engage San Juan County platform from August 22-October 31. (Edited to reflect extension through October)
Please note that registration is required to comment on Engage.

2. Submit feedback via email to tourism@sanjuanco.com.

The original title has been updated from Sustainable Tourism Management Plan to Destination Management Plan to capture the full breadth of visitation's impacts, benefits, and responsibilities to the San Juan Islands as a whole. This widens our focus to managing the destination, not just the people who are visiting it, for the long-term preservation of the Islands. It also recognizes the complex makeup of our visitors, which include residents’ friends and family, seasonal and service workers, as well as traditional tourists. “Sustainable tourism” still applies to the type of visitation our community envisions.

Formation and Impacts of the PlanSDMP 2023 draft cover

The County and its partners began engaging the community in this effort in 2016, and have completed multiple surveys, conducted research, and held public engagement events, including a series of community meetings last year. The Plan builds off the feedback and recommendations received along with the extensive work already completed. The planning process also considers relevant issues associated with climate change impacts, as well as the potential impacts of increased natural resource use and recreation on Coast Salish Tribes.

Commissioned by the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC), the SDMP will serve as a guiding document for LTAC’s decision-making regarding funding of tourism-related activities and capital investments, including the Destination Marketing and Management Organization (DMMO) contract (currently held by the SJI Visitor's Bureau). It will also serve as a roadmap for collaborative community effort around a shared vision for visitation in the San Juans.

Background information and resources, as well as ongoing SDMP updates, are available on the County’s interactive web platform, Engage San Juan County, on the San Juan Islands Destination Management Plan project page at https://engage.sanjuancountywa.gov/destination-management-plan.

Next Steps 

After public feedback is synthesized, the preliminary Plan will be reviewed by County Council, followed by a tribal engagement effort with Coast Salish Tribes who recognize the San Juan Islands as part of their ancestral territory to gather feedback and recommendations. A final draft will be brought to the County Council for adoption in 2024.

Media Contact: Angela Broderick, Climate and Sustainability Coordinator, angelab@sanjuanco.com, 360.370.0537

About San Juan County’s Department of Environmental Stewardship

San Juan County’s Department of Environmental Stewardship is responsible for solid waste, marine resources, clean water, cultural resources, and climate and sustainability work. The department offices are located at 1609 Beaverton Valley Road, Friday Harbor, WA 98250. For more information about San Juan County’s Department of Environmental Stewardship, visit www.sanjuanco.com/839/Environmental-Stewardship.

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