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A great new park

A great new park at Lake Whatcom offers local control of natural resources and opportunities for world-class outdoor recreation, while maintaining clean drinking water. In time, the forest preserve will mature into old-growth forest for generations to come.

A great new park at Lake Whatcom met the challenge when in 2013 the Whatcom County Council resolved to reconvey 8,800 acres of state lands to county control for a low impact park.

Celebrating a new park

The new forest park at Mt Stewart and Lookout Mountain protects 15 square miles of a local watershed, making it the largest local park in the state. Lake Whatcom supplies water to 90,000 people, half of Whatcom County's residents.

A great new park. Photo Tore Ofteness
A great new park. Photo Tore Ofteness

Since 2008, Whatcom Land Trust, Conservation Northwest, Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, Cascade Mountain Runners, and Whatcom County residents have worked with Whatcom County to protect remnant old growth groves, wildlife habitat, and feeder streams to the lake. The Lake Whatcom park offers local control of natural resources, world-class outdoor recreation, while maintaining quality municipal drinking water. In time, the park will mature into old-growth forest for future generations.

The proposed park rests on "reconveyance" would transfer 8,700 acres 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.


The new Lake Whatcom park:
  • Restores local control of a community watershed
  • Protects forests and wildlife habitat, including habitat for marbled murrelets and clean water for fish
  • Restores old-growth quality forest
  • Offers low-impact recreation opportunities, from hiking to biking
  • Attracts 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.

Steps to a new local 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.
  • In March 2013 the county council approved the reconveyance.
  • In January 2014, Governor Inslee signed the deed affirming the reconveyance and the new park.
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