Whatcom Land Trust
From the North Cascade mountains to the Salish Sea, the committed members of the Whatcom Land Trust have made it their mission to protect the diverse land that draws people to Whatcom County. For many of Whatcom County’s residents, it is the unique landscape, endless green spaces, and integrated park system that combine to make it hard to imagine living anywhere else. For Whatcom Land Trust executive director Rich Bowers, the mission of the organization stems from the community’s deep love of the land. “It is not really about how many acres we protect. It is about how many special places we want to protect,” he said. However, those “special places” don’t just include wild spaces, but include the farmlands that built Whatcom County for generations and continue to be key to the local economy.
In 1983, a group of concerned people gathered in the basement of the Dutch Mothers Family Restaurant in Lynden to discuss the future of the agricultural lands and heritage of Whatcom County. After the group’s first official meeting in November of 1984, the Whatcom Land Trust was born from the agricultural community. “Protecting agricultural land is hard to do. If you are not going to continue to farm, what happens to the land?” Bowers said. Today, the Whatcom Land Trust works in two major ways to protect agricultural land from over-development: 1. Maintaining conservation easements to permanently protect properties for local food and farmers, and 2. Through protecting soil and water to maximize crop yield.
Beyond agricultural communities, the members of Whatcom Land Trust are dedicated to protecting key watershed environments and salmon habitats. Many of the land trust’s properties are within the Lake Whatcom Watershed and Nooksack River environments. The majority of the lands owned, or under easement, are open for public exploration and use. Some of the land trust’s most popular properties include the Stimpson Family Nature Reserve, which was developed in partnership with Western Washington University, Whatcom County, the state Department of Natural Resources and the Stimpson family; Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve, and Clark’s Point.
With the help of about 350 volunteers, the Whatcom Land Trust is able to maintain and protect their thousands of acres of properties. Community members can be involved as land stewards by participating in work parties, as event volunteers, or by giving a gift. Check out the annual Stories of the Great Outdoors fundraising event May 12th, 2018 to learn more about getting involved in the Whatcom Land Trust.