Two Blaine projects have been greenlighted, thanks to recent grants the state allocated to the Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 (BBBPRD2) and the city of Blaine.
Washington state’s Recreation and Conservation Funding Board announced 342 grants totaling $164 million to go toward recreation, conservation and to protect forests and farms. The competitive grants, announced June 30 by the state recreation and conservation, are given every two years and were given from 10 state recreation and conservation grant programs.
“These grants are fundamental to keeping Washington the beautiful state it is,” governor Jay Inslee said in a statement. “The funding comes from state and federal sources and is invested in hundreds of projects to give our kids places to play, ensure our food is grown close to home and keep our green spaces healthy for wildlife.”
Of the $4,889,260 awarded in Whatcom County, about $1 million went toward two Blaine and Birch Bay projects.
Blaine Marine Park
The Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA) granted the city of Blaine $500,000 for revitalizing the Blaine Marine Park through preventing erosion, creating lookout access and habitat for wildlife. The city of Blaine will give $300,000, which had already been set aside for the project, to complete the project’s proposed restoration cost of $800,000.
The project, which spans the shoreline from the apple tree to the Lighthouse Point Water Reclamation Facility, is the city’s first capital project on Blaine’s Strategic Economic Initiative.
The money will help the city replace the concrete boulders along the Blaine Marine Park shoreline made to protect the man-made land mass from erosion. This project is separate from another Blaine Marine Park shoreline project the city is pursuing in a different area to repair erosion damage from the king tides in January, affecting areas near the apple tree and former dump site.
The grant money will come in conjunction with the work schedule, said city manager Michael Jones, who expects construction to start in the fall or early next year. Shoreline work is heavily regulated because of endangered species so construction has to align with the tide schedule.
“Marine Park is one of our premiere recreational parks. It is very heavily visited,” Jones said. “Turning the inaccessible shoreline into a more beach-like shoreline will really help the value. Overall, it will be very beneficial to the city, more so to residents than visitors. It will be great to have shoreline that is more usable than what we have today.”
California Creek Estuary Park
ALEA and the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program’s Water Access Category allocated BBBPRD2 nearly $425,000, which will allow the department to build the California Creek Estuary Park through 12 acres along California Creek and 230 feet of Drayton Harbor shoreline for a future park.
The highly anticipated park will have a kayak launch, restroom, kiosk and trails to the day-use park will be added because of the ALEA grant and a $147,000 BBBPRD2 cash contribution, voter-approved bonds and volunteer work. The park will also have a picnic shelter, designated viewpoint and there will be two trails – a 2640-foot boardwalk and a 2376-foot crushed stone trail. A 50-car parking lot will also
provide plenty of parking.
The two old buildings on the future park’s property were
demolished the first week of July and BBBPRD2 has sent out a
proposal for a second wetland study, BBBPRD2 director Ted Morris said. The first wetland study took a year and a half because of the amount of wetlands in the area, slowing down the park’s progress.
“Slowly but surely we’re working our way through the myriad of permits and things,” he said. “It always takes longer than you expect.”
Construction of the park’s second phase could be complete by December 2022, with a proposed agreement end date of June 15, 2023, according to grant application documents.
The new land along Drayton Harbor means BBBPRD2 will now own nearly 900 feet of consecutive saltwater shoreline starting at the mouth of California Creek. The park will help preserve the surrounding habitat and protect the water quality.
The grant application estimated the 12-acre lot, purchased from a private landowner, cost $259,300.
“It feels great,” Morris said of receiving the grant. “I think we’re doing a really great project and it’s in an area that needs this recreational access. It’s always great to see those hours pay off.”
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