The Future of California Creek

Wetlands can be among the most complex, productive ecosystems in the world, rivaling the planet’s rain forests and coral reefs. Washington’s coastal wetlands help support endangered Southern Resident orca whales and other marine mammals, salmon, forage fish, shellfish, waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as an array of other plant and animal species. They help mitigate climate change in a myriad of ways, by absorbing greenhouse gases, protecting water quality, reducing flooding, and even recharging drinking water aquifers. Suffice it to say they are a crucial component of the land we love.

Whatcom Land Trust currently owns 52.5 acres of land at the mouth of California Creek, a major tributary to Drayton Harbor,  where it empties into the harbor. Marine estuaries are an irreplaceable natural resource that provide many benefits including wildlife habitat, improved biodiversity, and water quality.  This property is crucial to protect due to its location, ecological makeup, and future role as a public park along the shoreline. The California Creek subbasin makes up 40% of the total Drayton Harbor watershed, meaning restoration in the area will benefit water quality in Drayton Harbor and have positive impacts on Whatcom County far beyond its bounds. 

Since the initial purchase in June of 2017 and second purchase of an adjacent parcel in December 2018, the Land Trust has completed significant salmon habitat restoration and  invasive species removal on the properties. Two barns left on the property were demolished by Moceri Construction.  This was done in partnership with Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, and Whatcom Conservation District, in part, thanks to a grant from the Rose Foundation’s Stewardship & Mitigation Fund and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service funding. The Land Trust has also partnered with Washington Sea Grant in monitoring the invasive European green crab’s presence in the California Creek estuary. 

Whatcom Land Trust, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Ecology, has recently received a grant funded by the US Fish & Wildlife Coastal Wetlands Program to purchase and restore  four more properties along California Creek. All in all these purchases will protect another 55 acres of coastal wetland habitat and 6,500 feet of shoreline in perpetuity. 

Concurrently, the Blaine/Birch Bay Parks & Recreation District #2 (BBPRD2) applied for and was awarded two grants from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office to fund  infrastructure for the park  and public access, including a kayak/canoe launch, parking, restrooms, trails and even an eventual link between Birch Bay State Park and Peace Arch Park. Now, this beautiful and ecologically important place where people meet nature will be permanently protected, and closer to beginning the next phase of its life as BBPRD2’s California Creek Estuary Park. Although we cannot be together to celebrate this win we  want to thank you for making this and so much more possible!

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