Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Lily Point Marine Reserve

With the lowest daytime tide of 2008 at -4.4' today, it was the perfect day to celebrate the conservation of Lily Point, a marine reserve located on Boundary Bay at Point Roberts, Washington. Beginning by boarding a chartered bus at the Lincoln Street Park-n-Ride in Bellingham, stopping at the Ferndale Park-n-Ride, then again in Blaine to pick up more passengers, we stopped just long enough to show our passports at the Peace Arch border crossing in order to enter into Canada and again at the Point Roberts border crossing in order to enter back into the United States and proceeded on to Lily Point.

Arriving at the Lily Point Marine Reserve mid-morning, we were greated by members of the Whatcom Land Trust, Lummi Nation officials and staff from the Whatcom County Parks Department. Walks were led through the trails from the end of APA Road and on down to the beach, allowing us several hours of free time to thoroughly explore the forested area on top of the bluff and the tide flats far below. With dozens of bald eagles soaring overhead, once down on the beach, we could walk out onto the rocky reef exposed by the extreme low tide and observe the magnificant variety of marine life thriving along the shores of Lily Point.

There were purple sea stars (pisaster ochraeus).

The beach floor seemed absolutely littered with an abundance of sea life - purples, greens, browns, whites, animals, plants, grasses, shells, rocks, sea stars, crabs, clams and barnacles - such a colorful display.

Reminding us of early industry on Lily Point, a few old pilings, remnants from the old Alaska Packers Cannery that must have absolutely bustled with activity on Lily Point from 1884 until 1917, still remain on the beach to this day.

This historical photo shows the original Alaska Packers Cannery at Lily Point as it appeared in 1910.
Once the tide flats had been thoroughly explored, we hiked the near mile back up the steep trail to reach the top of the bluff where we feasted on a splended catered luncheon set up under pop-up tents for all to enjoy.

After lunch, there was a program celebrating the Lily Point conservation, sponsored by the Lummi Nation and the Whatcom Land Trust, that included drummers, singers, story tellers and leaders from the Lummi Nation sharing their family heritage at Lily Point and giving thanks to the Whatcom Land Trust and the other organizations for their efforts in preserving the future of this land and surrounding shores.

Lummi Nation drummers performing. ~~~~~
My photo highlights from today's celebration.


The conservation of Lily Point and more thanks were also shared during the celebration by many of the Lily Point preservation partners - Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife Coastal Program, Whatcom County Conservation District Futures Fund, Washington State Department of Ecology, private donors from the U.S. and Canada, Whatcom County Parks and Recreation and the Whatcom Land Trust. The program included special messages from Governor Gregoire and other local politicians and campaigners.

After closing with a song by a local singer/songwriter and her acoustic guitar, we boarded our chartered bus again, crossed the border back into Canada, crossed the border back into the United States and returned to Bellingham.


Getting there from here.

  • Take I-5 North for 22.9 miles, entering British Columbia, Canada at the Peace Arch border crossing.
  • Continue north on Highway 99 for 12.4 miles.
  • Take Exit 20 toward Ladner, Tsawwassen and Point Roberts, following for 0.2 miles.
  • Turn left at Ladner Trunk and follow for 4.6 miles.
  • Turn left at Highway 17 and follow for 3.5 miles.
  • Turn left at 56 Street.
  • After 2.8 miles, cross back into Washington at the Point Roberts border crossing.
  • Continue on Tyee Drive for 1.4 miles.
  • Turn left onto the APA Road and drive 1.2 miles until you reach the end of the road.
  • You have reached the Lily Point Marine Reserve.
  • Parking is allowed along the sides of the road.


From the Whatcom County Executive News.

Whatcom Land Trust Purchases, Deeds Lily Point to Whatcom County for Park

Supported by a remarkable coalition, Whatcom Land Trust has purchased Lily Point from Welsh Developments, Inc. for $3,500,000. Appraised at $4,350,000, this extraordinary 90-acre marine shoreline property, with 40 acres of tidelands, sits at the southeast corner of Point Roberts between Boundary Bay and the Straits of Georgia.

Whatcom Land Trust has deeded Lily Point to Whatcom County for use as a marine reserve and public park, retaining a conservation easement “to protect the ecological functions, environmental attributes and wildlife habitat of the Property.”

Land Trust president Chris Moench noted that Lily Point is likely the most culturally and ecologically endowed, privately owned, undeveloped property on the greater Puget Sound shoreline. “For centuries people have come to Lily Point because of its biological richness. Whatcom Land Trust hopes to
make sure that public access and biological richness will be maintained for centuries to come.”

With enthusiastic support from Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen, the Whatcom County Council voted unanimously to appropriate $600,000 from the Conservation Futures Fund to support the purchase.

“This is a very important acquisition for our natural heritage and parks plans. It’s so rich in natural resources as well as historical and cultural aspects,” said County Executive Pete Kremen, “Lily Point is one of the most beautiful spots in the area. It’s one of those places that make Whatcom County so special.”

Whatcom County now owns the four corners of Point Roberts – Monument Park, Lighthouse Park Maple Beach (a gift from Whatcom Land Trust), and finally, Lily Point, by far the most ecologically important of the four corners.

A celebration of the acquisition and protection of Lily Point is planned for June 4, 2008, when a minus 4.4 mid-day tide will reveal the full splendors of Lily Point.


The Lummi Nation shared today that their families had taken care of that property for 10,000 years, and now the people of Washington State have that responsibility. What an honor we have been allowed!


  1. I enjoyed your photos. I hope you don't mind, but I linked to your site on the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission's blog.


  2. Loved your blog about that day! I too have fond memories and a bunch of great photos from the day. I just wanted to post a quick note here today that we will be celebrating the 1 year anniversary of the date of purchase of Lily Point so that it could be preserved by Whatcom Land Trust and formed into a Park, managed by Whatcom County Parks. A very special and informative guided tour will begin at 10:00 am on Saturday, April 18th, beginning at the trail head (at the Cemetery - same place as last year). Hope to see you there!


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