Groups rally behind scenic byway proposal
By Tara Nelson
Imagine a scenic alternative to I-5 where motorists can soak in sweeping views of Drayton Harbor, Semiahmoo Bay and Birch Bay, Mt. Baker and rolling farmland all the way to Chuckanut Drive in Bellingham.
This is the vision of a group of Blaine and Birch Bay residents who are vying to capture a slice of tourism dollars and help deliver the recognition each community deserves.
Birch Bay Steering Committee chair Kathy Berg said if successful, the route would travel through Blaine along Peace Portal Drive, around Drayton Harbor Road onto Semiahmoo Spit, down Semiahmoo Parkway, along Birch Bay, through Birch Bay State Park and Point Whitehorn and through rolling countryside to Lummi Shore Road, eventually connecting with Chuckanut Drive in Fairhaven. The route includes plenty of recreational activities and scenic vistas such as the MV Plover, public beach access, swimming, clamming and access local farms.
“I think it could be really a neat thing,” she said. “Studies have shown that these kinds of things could be useful as a community. That was my first drive through Whatcom County when visiting a cousin, we just got as close to the shore as we could get.”
Berg said she is currently working with Blaine Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center director Carroll Solomon to petition Whatcom County planning and development to have the idea written into chapter 11 of the Birch Bay subarea plan.
Berg added she also hopes to bring on board the Lummi Business Council, the Bellingham Whatcom Chamber of Commerce and the Whatcom Council of Governments, to name a few.
“We agree that it’s something that needs to be done and it’s something that should be collaborated on. We want it in an official document so that it is recognized as something of some merit,” she said.
Whatcom County has two scenic byways as designated by the department of transportation. Those are the Mount Baker Highway and Chuckanut Drive.
Berg said once she obtains a collective letter from the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce, the steering committee will begin the application process for a state scenic byway and heritage tour route designation.
For more information on scenic byways, visit www.byways.org.
To learn more about the meetings of the Birch Bay Steering Committee and its various sub implementation committees, visit www.birchbayinfo.org.