Located in Kendall, Washington is Whatcom Land Trust’s Harrison Reserve, 5.5 acres along Kendall Creek of exceptional habitat for native fish, birds and other wildlife species. While this may not be a large piece of property, the positive impact it is having on both native species and the community has been huge. The Harrison Reserve idyllically represents the impact of strong partnerships in conservation, stewardship and education. More than ten organizations have come together to protect the Harrison Reserve for future generations through funding, restoration, stewardship, and educational efforts.
The Harrison property was donated to Whatcom Land Trust in 2001 by Jo Anne Harrison and family in memory of J. Arley Harrison, husband and father. The site was donated with the vision of being restored into a conservation area and wildlife refuge. The 5 acres of riparian, wetland, and open space is used heavily by waterfowl, raptors and eagles and includes 500 feet of waterfrontage along Kendall Creek, an important salmon stream. Ongoing restoration, stewardship and education will ensure the Harrison family’s vision for this property.
One of the most inspiring partnerships at Harrison has been between Whatcom Land Trust and Kendall Elementary School. Because the Harrison Reserve is within a safe walking distance from Kendall Elementary, educational work parties have been instrumental in fostering a sense of stewardship for hundreds of elementary age students at Kendall Elementary School. Student work parties at Harrison have become much anticipated for both teachers and students at the school, allowing them to get outside, get their hands a little dirty, and feel a real sense of connection and responsibility for the lands we love in Whatcom County. Once the restoration work is complete, site improvements will be made for future classes to utilize the land as an outdoor learning environment.
Partners in the stewardship and restoration of Harrison have included North Cascades Audubon Society (NCAS), Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA), Superfeet, and the Whatcom Conservation District (WCD). Each of these local organizations have volunteered hours of their time and resources to improving this property by cutting back invasive species and planting native species in order to help improve the native habitat of the property and Kendall Creek. Just recently Superfeet set a Whatcom Land Trust record for planting 3,575 plants in a single work party at the Harrison Reserve. A week before that NSEA and WCD partnered on a work party which demolished a giant blackberry patch on the property, removed old beaver caging, and planted nearly 1,500 young willows to help shade out invasives.
Funding for the ongoing restoration and stewardship of Harrison has come from numerous sources and partnerships including the North Cascades Audubon Society (NCAS), Whatcom Community Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the National Audubon Society through the Burke Grant on behalf of NCAS. Much of this funding will go towards the future construction of an elevated boardwalk through the wetlands which will allow this site to become a year-round classroom and wildlife viewing area. Without this funding, this gem of a project would not be possible.
Additional participating organizations include Trout Unlimited and Wild Whatcom. These organizations are utilizing the Harrison Reserve for educational purposes including demonstrating the importance of cold, clean water for native fish species and teaching Whatcom County’s future generations the importance of conserving and caring for the natural lands and water around them.
The Harrison Reserve exemplifies powerful community partnerships in land conservation, stewardship, and education. Whatcom Land Trust is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with such amazing partners on such an impactful project. The ability to improve habitat, foster a connection to the land, and teach future generations the importance of stewardship makes the Harrison Reserve a win-win-win for Whatcom County.