New Park, New Opportunities

What the reconveyance means to you

Late on the night of Tues., March 12, the excitement in the County Council chambers within the Whatcom County Courthouse was most decidedly not subdued. It was, in fact, euphoric. There was a spontaneous eruption of applause—and even some weeping.

After many hours of comments—ranging, as they always do, from the ridiculous to the sublime—by concerned citizens from both sides of the sociological divide, the council approved the reconveyance of almost 9,000 acres of land around Lake Whatcom from the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to the Whatcom County Parks Department. It will be the eighth-largest county park in the United States. Essentially, for free (although relatively minimal costs will be incurred to process the reconveyance).

What does this mean for local recreationalists?

It means that in the years ahead, we will see many miles of new mountain biking and hiking trails, adding to our already impressive inventory.

The views from the high points of this new park are extraordinary, even world-class. Opportunities to link the new park with existing parklands will offer large-scale, in-depth recreational experiences on a truly epic level. Can you imagine a weekend backpacking trip high above the shores of Lake Whatcom?

What does it mean for local folks who don’t “recreate?”

Whatcom County, almost in spite of itself, is becoming known around the country (and the world) as a recreational destination par excellence. And no wonder! With outdoor activities that include superb hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, running, paddling, sailing and climbing, we can lay claim to a diversity of premier outdoor experiences that is without equal, anywhere.

This growing reputation as a recreational Garden of Eden means economic opportunity—in a big way and for everyone. Every business owner will benefit, and by extension, every taxpayer. As the word spreads, by inevitable word of mouth and hopefully by design, we will see ever-increasing numbers of visitors drawn to our corner of the country by this embarrassment of outdoor riches.

We will also see new businesses making the smart decision to relocate here. In the 21st century business world, recreational amenities play an ever-larger role in deciding where to settle.

And finally, we will see existing businesses finding new success in recruiting talented workers. Increasingly, quality-of-life issues are playing a larger and larger role for folks choosing career opportunities. How many people do you know who moved here for the quality of life?

The reconveyance was not easily achieved. It took years of what seemed like a never-ending uphill battle by a cast of thousands. Elected officials.  Nonprofits. Engaged citizens.
Now that it is a fait accompli, it is time to prove the point. The community will need to be fully engaged in the visioning process. Volunteers will be needed to help the Parks Department build trails.

The reconveyance makes a powerful statement about what we believe our future can become. A tipping point, perhaps.
This is our moment.

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