Vision for a Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve Park
A Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve Park offers local control of natural resources and opportunities for world-class outdoor recreation, while maintaining quality municipal drinking water. In time, the forest preserve will mature into old-growth forest for wildlife and future generations.
Update March 2013: The Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve Park is on its way!
On March 12, the Whatcom County Council voted 5-2 to pass the resolution to reconvey 8,800 acres of state lands to county control for a low impact park.
A new forest preserve for two parts of the Lake Whatcom watershed is in the offering. The proposed new Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve Park would
protect more than a quarter of a local watershed, which supplies water to half of Whatcom County's residents.
Whatcom Land Trust, Conservation Northwest, recreation advocates including WHIMPS, and Whatcom County residents have worked since 2008 with Whatcom County to protect these forests, containing remnant old growth groves, wildlife habitat, and feeder streams to the lake.
A Lake Whatcom Forest Preserve Park offers local control of natural resources and world-class outdoor recreation while maintaining quality municipal drinking water. In time, the park will mature into old-growth forest for future generations. In a recent poll, 74% of residents supported the park.
The proposed park rests on "reconveyance" would transfer 8,700 acres, close to 15 square miles, from state to county management. State law provides for reconveyance to occur without payment of certain categories of land such as these, historically owned by the county but to date managed by the state. The county has invested nearly $300,000 to reach this point for the proposed preserve.
Why a Lake Whatcom Forest Park?
Reconveying a quarter of the lands in an important watershed has many things going for it. The proposed new forest park will:
- Restore local control of a community watershed
- Protect forests and wildlife habitat, including habitat for marbled murrelets and clean water for fish
- Restore old-growth quality forest
- Offer low-impact recreation opportunities, from hiking to biking
- Attract recreation events and an outdoor-minded professional talent pool to revitalize a local economy
One of two reconveyance parcels, Lookout Mountain, rises above Sudden Valley just near Galbraith Mountain. The other parcel, Stewart Mountain, adjoins the popular Hertz Trail along the lake's north shore.
Recent steps to a new wildland park
- In May 2012, the proposed park won local county approval.
- In July 2012, ditto, the Washington Board of Natural Resources.
- In September 2012, the Whatcom County Council held a public hearing attended by hundreds of people.
- Also in September, the council voted to to delay a final vote till next year.