Lily Point Marine Reserve

90/130 acres, marine shoreline, forested trails, intertidal species, mudflats, historic features
Location: Point Roberts, Boundary Bay

Lilly Point

Lily Point

Lily Point is an extraordinary 90-acre marine shoreline property with 40 acres of tidelands at the southeast corner of Point Roberts. Boundary Bay borders the property on one side and the Strait of Georgia on the other.

In 2007, Lily Point was likely the most culturally and ecologically endowed, undeveloped property in the greater Puget Sound region that was still in private ownership.  For 9,000 years people have come to Lily Point because of its biological richness; Whatcom Land Trust hopes to make sure that the same is true for the next 9,000 years — both the public access and the biological richness.

Lily Point aerial photo by John Scurlock

Lily Point hosts a dynamic assembly of ecological processes – reefs and tidelands swept by nutrient filled currents; riparian forests providing shade, perches, and insects to the coastal environment; and eroding cliffs supplying sand and gravel for spawning forage fish and beach replenishment.  These processes are essential to the health of Puget Sound’s inhabitants – the Orca that patrol the Straights of Georgia, salmon that skirt Lily Point on their way to the Fraser and Nooksack Rivers, Bald eagles that scour the beach, Great Blue herons that stalk the tidelands, and waterfowl and shore birds that visit Boundary Bay. At a low tide in June, a delegation from the Land Trust saw nearly 100 eagles on the beach at Lily Point.

The history of Lily Point attests to its fecundity. Archeologists date human occupancy back at least 9000 years. For centuries, Coast Salish Native Peoples maintained their primary reef net fishery and a summer village for as many as 500 people at Lily Point.  Here the Lummi ancestors each year performed their most important “first salmon” ceremony to assure the annual return of the fish they depended on. They called this place Chelhtenem, “hang salmon for drying.” An 1881 newspaper reported 10,000 salmon caught by 3 reef nets in 6 hours.

Lummi Nation supported WLT’s purchase of Lily Point and the plan to transfer ownership to Whatcom County for use as a park. WLT will retain a conservation easement and the responsibilities of long-term stewardship.

Point Roberts is only a half hour drive from Vancouver. The Point Roberts Beach Club, a proposed 103-house gated community, is less than 500 feet west of Lily Point.  In 2007 Whatcom County owned three of the four corners of Point Roberts – Monument Park, Lighthouse Park and Maple Beach, the latter of which was given to the County by Whatcom Land Trust, encumbered by a restrictive conservation easement. Only Lily Point, by far the most ecologically and historically important of the four corners, remained exposed to development.

By whatever mix of spirit and ecological powers, Lily Point remains a place of prolific productivity, just as it was when Salish people evoked spirit powers to ensure the return of the salmon to Chelhtenem and direct migrating fish to the reef nets. Perhaps by the grace of a spirit power, the plentiful natural heritage of Lily Point is ours to preserve.

Lilly Point and Mt. Baker

Lily Point and Mount Baker