A half-dozen pigeon guillemots dropped from sandstone perches on Chuckanut Island and flew south toward Pleasant Bay, their wingbeats an arm’s length above the water. Nine humans followed their course in kayaks, crossing a breezy reach toward a pocket-beach refuge on the southeast shore of Governors Point. The guillemots were nesting summer residents, the humans merely visitors — and that’s how it will mostly remain on this forested 125-acre peninsula a few miles south of Bellingham off Chuckanut Drive.
Thanks to a visionary partnership between the Whatcom Land Trust and property owner Randy Bishop, ninety-eight acres encompassing the east side and tip of the Governors Point peninsula will be preserved for public access, while Bishop develops 16 small-footprint environmentally sensitive homes on the west side. The character and ecology of this shoreline gem will be saved, to the benefit of guillemots, eagles, river otters, surf smelt, sea stars, and myriad other creatures of the Salish Sea.
On a recent June morning, seven Whatcom Land Trust supporters joined Conservation Manager Alex Jeffers and Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures guide Sophia Rouches for a guillemot-eye view of Governors Point from the waters of the bay. Over four hours of gentle paddling, we traced the Chuckanut sandstone-lined outer shore of the peninsula, entered Chuckanut Bay, and paused for lunch at an oyster and clamshell strewn pocket beach on Pleasant Bay, nestled in the future preserve. Sophia shared natural history highlights, while Alex recounted the site’s history and ecological significance and explained how partnership with the Land Trust led to Bishop’s decision to donate almost 80 percent of the property for permanent protection and public use. It was a day to savor: sparkling waters, island vistas, the companionship of raptors and seabirds, and the quiet conviviality of paddled craft. Serenaded by the lyrical song of black-headed grosbeaks as we shared lunch on the secluded beach, it was easy to imagine that we also shared the privilege of Coast Salish peoples to know Governors Point in its full abundance.
Even more gratifying, to Whatcom Land Trust supporters, is the knowledge that future generations have been given a chance to experience the same.
Bellingham residents Ted Wolf and Karen McKay bid on the Governors Point paddle in Whatcom Land Trust’s 2021 Silent Auction. Ted is currently President of the Board of RE Sources and a board member of Columbia Riverkeeper.