Recreation Northwest became Park Stewards for Fairhaven Park in 2014. We chose this particular park due to the impact we have with the trail run leg of our Bellingham Traverse. We were quickly propelled into taking on a long-term project for the health of the forest and the benefit of our community.
Working in partnership with city staff and our community, we have chosen to focus on trail relocation projects- working towards connecting the park with the Chuckanut Community Forest. We completed Phase 1 in 2015 and will be completing Phase 2 in 2017– thanks to your help.
The new trail will be 400 feet long including an elevated wetland boardwalk crossing to limit impact on this fragile habitat and improve public access.
Thank you to 93 community donors and 19 local businesses, foundations and other organizations for helping us meet the fundraising needs for this project.
Trail & Boardwalk construction is now underway as of Tuesday, September 19th! We anticipate construction & planting through mid-November and will have a signed detour around the site during that time.
Phase 2: Here are photos of the area we are working on fixing and the new route through the lush forest canopy on the right.
The new trail will cross the wetland for 95 feet with 40 feet of elevated boardwalk which includes 254 feet of trail in the wetland buffer. Wetland impacts from the new trail are 846 square feet with 3,649 square feet of buffer impacts (boardwalk results in only 10 square feet of impact). Recreation Northwest’s site mitigation includes restoration of 3,384 square feet of wetlands and 3,649 square feet of wetland buffer enhancement.The construction of Fairhaven Trail Phase 2 will be a new section of pedestrian/bike trail, partially in a wetland and wetland buffer and the abandonment of an existing section of trail in a degraded wetland and buffer. Trail abandonment is necessary to discontinue the pedestrian impacts to the wetland and to provide a safer trail built over the same wetland in a better location.
The construction of a crushed-limestone pedestrian/bike trail will be about 400 feet long and 6 feet wide with 1-foot shoulders on each side. Where the trail crosses the wetland, a 40-foot boardwalk will be constructed to avoid direct wetland impacts.
The new trail is meant to bypass an existing trail where significant impacts to vegetation and soils have taken place due to the wet conditions and ill-defined trail. The existing trail area will be restored as part of the mitigation plan for impacts from the Phase 2 trail.
The purpose of the trail is to avoid further impacts to the wetland from the existing trail and also to repair wetland and wetland buffer damage from the existing trail. The new trail will have impacts but will minimize the impacts by using a boardwalk through the wetland and minimizing vegetation clearing through careful trail construction.
The rerouted trail will connect with the network of trails in the forest. These sustainable trail improvements will eliminate sedimentation and allow water to flow freely, enabling the wetland to function in its natural state.
We are proud to be working to relocate unsanctioned trails through fragile wetlands in this special urban forest. The new trails will connect the popular park and forest. The trails will be built to city specifications allowing increased and enjoyable access for people as well as protecting this important habitat for wildlife and the ecology of the forest.
Special Thanks to our Professional Trail TEAM:
Gerry Wilbour, NW Trails
Perry Welch, Welch Environmental
Andy Law, Wilson Engineering
Chris Webb, Herrera Environmental Consultants
Jim LaHatt, LaHatt Engineering
John Gillaspy, Materials Testing & Consulting, Inc.
Josh Neyman, City of Bellingham, Parks and Recreation
Rae Edwards, City of Bellingham, Parks and Recreation
Our Generous Donors.
In addition to our individual donors, we especially thank:
Phase I: Pictured below LEFT is the previous trail that went through the wetland. Below to the RIGHT is the new trail alignment with an accessible trail for all to enjoy.
Dig Deeper: Phase ONE – That’s a WRAP! and Phase One Trail Stewardship Project Donors
Todd Elsworth is one of the many “Mossy-haired lunatics roaming the dripping peninsulas”, described in “I’m Here for the Weather” by Tom Robbins. As executive director, he works to fulfill our mission to teach the health benefits of nature, promote outdoor recreation, and steward the places where we play.