Birch Bay State Park Interpretive Center closes in on final necessary permits

Published on Wed, Mar 14, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Construction of the BP Heron Center is expected to cost about $160,000. Artist's rendering courtesy of Ted Morris.

A long-awaited interpretive center in Birch Bay State Park is inching toward reality, with only three county permits needed before construction can begin.

The center has been in the works since members of Friends of Birch Bay State Park first floated the idea in 2003, Birch Bay State Park manager Ted Morris said. Morris needs only to acquire a shoreline development permit and variance permit, which the Whatcom County hearing examiner will decide upon, and a building permit from county planning and development services.

The center’s namesake, the BP Cherry Point Refinery, has donated $105,000 of the $160,000 collected so far for the construction of the 2,400-square-foot center, Morris explained. Alcoa Intalco Works donated $25,000 while the rest came from smaller private donations.

The center will serve as an educational space for programs the state park hosts for visitors and will house exhibits on wildlife native to the area. Morris said he plans to use both state park and volunteer labor to build the center and is hopeful construction on the project will begin next spring.

The center will be built near the park’s main restrooms in the day use area. The building will consist of half open-air, covered meeting space design for picnics and a fully enclosed meeting room for educational programs.

The Friends of Birch Bay State Park thought the park needed a space where classes could be held during winter or inclement weather, since all educational programs are currently held outdoors.

Check the Lighthouse Blog for an update to the county hearing examiner's decision.