From the snow dusted old-growth mountain hemlock and yellow cedar at Canyon Lake Community Forest to the shockingly cold waters of the Salish Sea off of Point Whitehorn, Whatcom County may be cooling down for winter but Whatcom Land Trust is full of warm hearts for this place we call home. December provides us a time to reflect and appreciate on all of the positive work we have been able to accomplish this year due to our numerous partnerships and continued support of this amazing community. Together we have worked to permanently ensure the protection of critical lands, engage community members throughout the County and envision a healthy and prosperous future for the next generation of Whatcom County residents.
In 2018 we have seen the success of numerous projects, some taking decades to complete and others being the right decision at the right time. Helping facilitate and ensuring the future of these projects is what Whatcom Land Trust takes pride in. Ensuring that you, the residents of Whatcom County, are able to access these amazing lands, is what motivates us to keep moving forward. Out of the numerous success stories from this year, here are a few we would like to share with you.
Galbraith Mountain, a recreational haven for mountain bikers, runners, dog walkers, and families near and far, has also been the site for commercial timber harvesting for decades. Until July of 2018, access to the mountain was granted on a voluntary basis and never guaranteed long-term. After extensive efforts made by the Whatcom Mountain Biker Coalition (WMBC), Whatcom County Parks and Recreation, the City of Bellingham’s mayor Kelli Linville and City Council, Rob Janicki (current owner of Galbraith Tree Farm), and with facilitative and financial support from Whatcom Land Trust, permanent protection for Galbraith Mountain is at last in place. A recreation easement held by the City of Bellingham and conservation easement held by Whatcom Land Trust will ensure that access to Galbraith, outdoor recreation, and water quality within the Lake Whatcom watershed remain protected in perpetuity.
For Katie Penke and Matthew McDermott, purchasing land for their pasture raised organic pork business turned out to be a complicated puzzle which required finding just the right pieces. By working with the USDA Farm Service Agency, Whatcom County, Whatcom Conservation District and Whatcom Land Trust, Matt and Katie were finally able to secure funding to purchase their 48-acre property along Goodwin Road which borders Dale Creek, a historically salmon-bearing stream. Whatcom Land Trust was the final piece of financing, providing them with a three-year conservation loan which they can either pay back at three percent interest or record a conservation easement on the 10-acre riparian habitat along Dale Creek. Helping ensure a healthy and prosperous agriculture community in Whatcom County is an ongoing priority for Whatcom Land Trust and we can achieve this through our partnerships like this one with Katie and Matthew.
The 125-acre wooded peninsula separating Bellingham and Samish Bays finally has a landowner whose vision for balancing conservation with public access will help ensure future protection of this Whatcom County gem. Governors Point was purchased in February of 2018 by Randy Bishop, a developer who is eager to protect the natural wonder of this place and work with Whatcom Land Trust to do so. While Bishop still seeks to build on the property, he will limit the number of homes to 16 and custom design them to fit with the landscape. Each year the public will be allowed an architectural tour of the homes. Bishop has also committed to donating at least two thirds of Governors Point for a nature reserve which will address the ongoing concerns of public access and habitat conservation for the property. This positive relationship between the Trust and Bishop has shown that great things come from working together towards a common goal. By ensuring a collaborative approach for future protections of Governors Point, we can see a bright future for this unique piece of Whatcom County shoreline.
This year Whatcom Land Trust has collaborated on over 30 volunteer work parties including partnerships with Whatcom County Parks and Recreation, REI, Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, and Washington Trails Association and such businesses as WECU, Alcoa, Superfeet, Ram Construction and Larson Gross. These included more than 600 volunteers, numerous trails built, hundreds of acres of invasive species removed and thousands of trees planted. The result was improved habitat for fish and wildlife, increased number of access opportunities and countless connections between people and the land. The Trust has also hosted numerous property tours such as our Edfro Creek tour during Whatcom Water Weeks and the tour of Coldstream Farms, recipient of our Business Partners in Conservation Award. By engaging our community, people feel more invested in each other and in the land: every acre we take care of today means a healthier, more resilient tomorrow.
Since the beginning of 2018, Whatcom Land Trust has been focused on protecting 1,400 acres in the South Fork Nooksack Valley. Skookum Creek, Mustoe Marsh, and Duck Pond provide essential benefits for the fish, wildlife, and people living in the South Fork Valley and beyond. As the largest tributary to the South Fork Nooksack, Skookum heavily influences the health of the South Fork through cold, clean water year round. We are ever closer to permanently protecting this vital piece of Whatcom County, but Governors Point shoreline Work party with Alcoa at Whatcom Land Trust’s Kelsey property we need your help now. We are in the final push to raise critical funds needed to protect Skookum. Your gift- large or small- helps us close the funding gap by February 1 and envision a brighter future for this land. Skookum, Galbraith, Alluvial Farms, Governors Point and the numerous others represent this community’s commitment to the future generations of Whatcom County. Whatcom Land Trust is able to do this work because of our countless volunteers, partners, donors and supporters, and we are ever grateful to you this holiday season and all year long. By collaborating to envision the future we want for our children and grandchildren, we can continue to build upon our successes so far. Protecting land in perpetuity takes hard work, dedication, and selflessness, yet loving this land is like a breath of fresh air, easy and inspiring