For years, Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 (BBBPRD2) commissioners have been trying to build a trail from the southern end of the district to the northern end. With the acquisition of easements on a middle section of the proposed route, those efforts are moving forward.
BBBPRD2 commissioner Ted Morris said a trail through the district has been a top priority for the district since its inception in 2007.
“The parks district is here to enhance people’s lives through recreation, so a trail plan fits in with that goal,” Morris said.
However, with road shoulders to improve, bridges to cross and numerous backyards, forests and marshes to traverse between Point Whitehorn and the Canadian border, the process has been challenging to say the least.
“It’s something we’ve been working on for five years now, and it looks like it’s starting to fall into place” Morris said.
Birch Bay real estate agent Billy Brown, who is on the trail committee along with commissioners Morris, Katie Montfort and Shelly Moore, recently helped facilitate the signing of an easement for a section of the trail off of Lincoln Road.
“I was very happy we could all come to an understanding that will result in Birch Bay and Blaine having a safe trail connecting our communities someday. There is a lot more to do,” Brown said in an email.
The easement is one of three needed to build a section of trail between Lincoln Road and Drayton Harbor Road just west of where it crosses California Creek. Two of the three easements have been secured, and according to Morris the owners of the middle property where the third easement is needed have expressed support for the project.
“I’m optimistic we can secure the third easement in the next two to three months,” Morris said.
Once all three easements are in place, the district would draft a plan for that section of trail and begin seeking permits. Morris said the easements would allow for a 20-foot-wide path along the section, which is about three quarters of a mile long and runs through forest, fields and marshlands.
“The trail section is a missing link that would allow bikers, walkers and runners to get from Birch Bay to Blaine and vice-versa with a minimum of travel along Blaine Road, which sees a lot of vehicle traffic and doesn’t have a good shoulder for pedestrians,” Morris said.
In its entirety the trail connecting Blaine and Birch Bay would start at Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve, go north to Birch Bay State Park and connect to Birch Bay Drive. From Birch Bay Drive, the route would travel north up Harborview Road, which has an improved shoulder suitable for walkers and bikers. The proposed route then heads east on Lincoln Road, which dead-ends after a quarter of a mile. That’s where the off-road trail section would go north from Lincoln Road toward Drayton Harbor Road where it crosses California Creek. From there the route would continue to cross Dakota Creek and connect with trails in Blaine.
Morris said the completion of the entire trail is still at least two years away, but he is encouraged by the recent progress.
“We’ll need to work with Whatcom County to improve road shoulders on certain sections. We’ll need to work with the city of Blaine to make the connections. It takes time and patience, but I think we’re getting closer and I’m really excited about it,” Morris said.