Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve


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The Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve includes 54 acres of mature forest, forested wetlands, and marine shoreline. Bald eagle, woodpeckers, and nesting birds as well as many native mammals are located on site. Just off shore there are loons, cormorants, gulls, grebes, porpoises, sea lions and kelp forests. There is public access to 2+ miles of beach which allows people of all ages to enjoy and explore this wonderful area. Through events such as “What’s the Point”, this location provides excellent educational opportunities for the people of Whatcom County to learn about coastal areas and their important role in our ecosystem.

The story of the Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve is a little complicated:  BC Hydro offered Whatcom Land Trust a piece of property south of today’s Reserve. Ecologically, the quality of the property wasn’t that great, but WLT developed a plan to secure a much better piece. In 1999, hundreds of gallons of gasoline leaked from a pipeline in central Bellingham and exploded. Fines were levied and grants were established with those funds. With one of those grants, WLT purchased the “lesser” property from BC Hydro, then offered it to Trillium Corporation in trade for the wooded wetland and .3 miles of Georgia Strait shoreline property that is now this Whatcom County Park. Employing creative strategies and pursuing all available resources, WLT was able to preserve this beautiful spot from development and provide easy access to an additional two miles of shoreline owned by the Department of Natural Resources.

Point Whitehorn is a natural feeder bluff which means through erosion it provides essential sediment in order to keep the beach intact and functioning properly. Also, feeder bluffs often include coastal forests which provide habitat for native wildlife such as the bald eagle, neo-tropical migratory birds and other birds of prey. Many of Puget Sound’s most iconic coastal areas consist of feeder bluffs because of their aesthetic value and amazing views. Located between private and industrially owned property, Point Whitehorn is in an area that was once extremely vulnerable to potential development; in fact, in the past the property was zoned for high industrial use before WLT established the conservation easement.

Whatcom Land Trust donated this property to Whatcom County Parks for passive recreational use, but WLT’s responsibilities continue through holding the conservation easement that will ensure that this 54 acres remains as intact, viable habitat forever. In an area under both industrial and residential pressures, the preservation of this increasingly rare gem is a gratifying accomplishment.

 

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Alligator Lizard

 

 

 

 


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