Help us keep Little Manzanita Bay pristine

We appreciate The Bainbridge Island Review sharing news of the new nonprofit Friends of Little Manzanita Bay.

We felt it was necessary to form Friends of Little Manzanita Bay because there is a significant threat to Little Manzanita Bay. Little Manzanita is one of the last bays on Bainbridge Island without deep-water docks. But in 2015, two homeowners decided to apply to the city for permission to replace their 84-foot dock with a 240-foot- long steel dock that would extend far into the bay, and, according to their application, could accommodate two 50-foot boats.

Because Little Manzanita is so shallow, many summer tides result in a basin without water. The folks who enjoy Little Manzanita have learned to time their boat activities with the tides. It has become a place where canoeists, paddleboarders, kayakers, swimmers and skimboarding children can enjoy the unobstructed bay. It is recognized as a high-priority area for salmon recovery.

Little Manzanita Bay looks much the way it did years ago – with no deep-water docks, in contrast to nearby Manzanita Bay, which has 31 deep-water docks.

In 2016, strong neighborhood opposition caused the applicants to back off, but they returned with a new application in 2019, armed with law firms to accomplish their goal. That’s when the neighborhood began to realize it could really happen. The new dock would extend far into the bay, yet the applicants still would have access to deep-water only part of the time.

According to their application, despite tripling the length of their dock, their boats would sit on the bottom or hang on boat lifts some of the time. In 2020, over 40 letters in opposition poured into the city. There were none in support. (See the application and comments on the city website:

Yet the applicants persisted, including having their attorneys pressure the city to pull the assigned senior planner off the project. We hope to inform folks throughout the island about the unspoiled nature of Little Manzanita Bay and the 240-foot dock proposal that would significantly impact the ecology and aesthetics of the bay and create an unnecessary hazard to people-powered navigation.

The neighborhood has seen its share of changes. Many have been positive, especially actions by the Bainbridge Island Land Trust to protect the bay, the estuary and the creek by establishing preserves, including the Miller-Kirkman Preserve. Many folks on the island come to the two road ends at Little Manzanita with their families to enjoy this place. They deserve to know what could happen.

Bainbridge Island, like other islands in Puget Sound, is a place where some people build big houses and big docks. Local government is under tremendous pressure from these folks and their lawyers to allow variances from the adopted Shoreline Management Plan. The city needs to know that there are many people on Bainbridge who are just as committed to preserving the natural environment and the way of life that used to characterize the entire island.

Residents of Little Manzanita Bay and environs have lived with the tides since long before Vicki Kirkman’s grandparents bought 62 acres of the land surrounding the Bay in 1942. The Suquamish Tribe lived and fished here and relied on the tides since time immemorial. It still works.

Please join us in keeping Little Manzanita Bay a haven for wild creatures, for families and all who enjoy its quiet shallow water and magical creek.

Friends of Little Manzanita Bay is a nonprofit formed to help preserve that area.