After nearly eight years of work and anticipation, Whatcom Land Trust announced its newest acquisition of 11.5 acres of valuable estuary habitat in the Drayton Harbor Watershed in Birch Bay. This success was made possible through funding from the Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 and a bridge loan from The Conservation Fund.
The property, adjacent to where California Creek drains into Drayton Harbor, provides a vital link to the harbor and the protection of its tidelands and vulnerable wetlands ecosystems. “Our plan is to not only provide safe and protected habitat, but also to improve public access to shorelines and coastal areas,” said Rich Bowers, Executive Director of the land trust. “We also hope to reverse some of the disruptive ecological conditions currently affecting fish, waterfowl, wildlife and water quality in Drayton Harbor.”
The California Creek Estuary is a hot spot for fall fishers looking to catch Coho or silver salmon in the fall. Blue heron, bald eagles and migratory waterfowl also frequent the area. “The California Creek Estuary property is a critical link in the protection of bird and salmon species in northern Washington,” said Gabe Epperson, conservation director for the land trust.
This is also a big win for the Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2, a local park district in Whatcom County, which is on track to receive the property from the land to turn it into a public park. The land transfer will take place after the land trust pays off the loan and obtains a conservation easement, which they estimate will take the full three years. It will be the first physical property the parks district has maintained on its own.
“Without Whatcom Land Trust, we might not be able to purchase and conserve this piece of property on California Creek or other properties in the district,” explained Ted Morris, Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 director. “The ability of the land trust acquiring the land and then having the park district manage it for the public good is a perfect partnership.
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