Recreation Northwest became Park Stewards for Fairhaven Park in 2014. We chose this particular park due to the impact we had with the trail run leg of the Bellingham Traverse, our signature event at the time. We were quickly propelled into taking on a long-term project for the health of the forest and the benefit of our community.
This was the situation we faced…MUD!
Working in partnership with Bellingham Parks staff and our community, we chose to focus on a trail relocation project- working towards connecting Fairhaven Park with the “Hundred Acre Wood”. The trails needed to be improved for easier access for all types of users—and even more importantly, for the health of the forest. We broke the project into Two phases. Our goal was simple: Get out of the mud!
Phase One (2015) We built the trail to connect Fairhaven Park and 18th Street by rerouting a high-traveled access trail out of the wetland to higher ground. The trail was developed according to standard City specifications.
We completed Phase 1 in 2015.
Phase Two (2016-2017) The purpose of Phase TWO – Fairhaven Park Trail & Wetland Boardwalk project was to limit impact on the fragile habitat and improve public access to connect Phase 1 with the network of trails in the “Hundred Acre Wood” to the south that was accessed via a trail that crossed the wetland and became a 25-foot-wide swath of mud.The project allows enjoyable access for people as well as protecting this important habitat for wildlife and the ecology of the forest. The project avoided further impacts to the wetland and our mitigation efforts repaired damage from the social trails in place at the time.
We plan to complete Phase 2 in 2022.
In 2014, The City of Bellingham did not have sufficient funds at the time, in their short or long term budgets to address the environmental destruction that was occurring as these public trails were becoming increasingly popular. In order to systematically review the priorities for which trails need to be maintained, a master plan for the newly acquired property was required. This process was a long way off, back in the day. But now, this process is finally underway. See Chuckanut Community Forest Master Plan on Engage Bellingham.
Thank you to 93 community donors and 19 local businesses, foundations, and other organizations for helping us meet the fundraising needs for this project. Thank you for all the volunteers that we’ve had over the years
We are proud to have taken on this project and plan to use it as a demonstration for future projects to show that good work can be done with a collaborative, inclusive, and fun approach. We believe that this demonstrates our commitment to community building and our ability to be innovative and get things done.
Welch Ecological Services
Herrera Environmental Consulting
Materials, Testing & Consulting, Inc.
Timeline Overview (2014-2022)
2014 Adopted Fairhaven Park as Stewardship project
2015 Phase ONE – Fairhaven Park – 18th Street Connector Trail
2016 Phase TWO Planning – Fairhaven Park Trail & Wetland Boardwalk
2017 Volunteers remove Invasive Blackberries and install Native Plants
Phase TWO- Fairhaven Park Trail & Wetland Boardwalk installed.
2018 First year of Mitigation Reporting = success for survival of native plants and continuous invasive species removal.
2019 Recognition Rock Bench to honor project sponsors, supporters, and volunteers.
2020 Native Plant Garden Bench & Garden Gate
2021 New open Garden spaces – Wild Whatcom, Phillips 66, and public volunteers.
2022 5 year Mitigation Reporting requirements complete EOY. Project complete.
Next: See Outdoor Classroom