Tuesday, August 28, 2012

McNeil Island

We spent most of the day mapping our way around McNeil Island.  As a result of its prison status, the island has actually avoided the intense waterfront development typical of much of the rest of Puget Sound.  Much of the shoreline consists of remarkably pristine bluffs and forested shorelines, although almost every stream and small estuary has been blocked off or otherwise altered.  We saw strange groin-like structures extending offshore in two places and the remains of old ship or barge hulls on the north side.

The erosion control structures of choice were massive piles of coiled cable (old submarine nets? but they looked like giant mattress springs) and tall stacks of precast Ecology blocks.

This is a place with a complicated history and probably an even more complicated future. It has been both a federal and a state penitentiary and now it's still used to house various types of offenders.  But as the use of the island as a prison has gone down, interest in what happens next goes up.


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