THE STEWARD, OCTOBER 10, 2020 by ANNA HOEKMAN
Our vision of transforming California Creek Estuary into a park is getting closer! The first of the parcels of land that will eventually become the park was transferred from Whatcom Land Trust ownership to the Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2, with the second parcel hopefully to be transferred by the end of October. The Land Trust will keep a recorded conservation easement on the larger parcel in order to protect the land in perpetuity. This marks a huge step forward in our journey with this Estuary. The future park will include a number of different amenities including a looped nature trail, a kayak/canoe launch, restrooms and an interpretive kiosk. Demolition of the house on the first parcel of land will begin now that the Parks District has ownership of the land. Construction of the park infrastructure will likely begin next spring or summer, bringing us one step closer to realizing our vision for California Creek Estuary Park!
The Land Trust has already completed significant restoration efforts on these properties. Marine estuaries such as California Creek are crucial to protect, as they provide important habitat and help to protect water quality. The subbasin of California Creek makes up 40% of the Drayton Harbor watershed, which means this is a huge opportunity to impact and improve water quality in this watershed. Coastal wetlands help support a myriad of species, including orca whales, salmon, shorebirds, and many more. The Land Trust has also started conversations with Natural Systems Design to begin planning restoration activities on these properties to restore the natural functions of the tidal wetlands and begin to replace invasive species with native plants.
Whatcom Land Trust is in the process of acquiring three more properties upstream with funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Coastal Wetlands program, and will be hosting work parties there next year. In total almost 100 more acres of land will be protected, along with 6,500 feet of shoreline.
Our work in the California Creek watershed is the perfect example of how organizations working together can be a powerful force for conservation and stewardship. Through the combined efforts of the Land Trust and Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2, along with many other organizations, California Creek will become a place larger than the sum of its parts. This land will be protected now and into the future, preserving its natural beauty and its important ecological role, while also creating a space for all to enjoy the outdoors and learn about the land we love. It’s every volunteer like you who helped at a work party, and every community member whose gift – large or small – helped move this project forward, that makes parks like this possible, and creates a community treasure we can all enjoy for generations.
Article taken from a Whatcom Land Trust publication called The Steward