Since 1984, Whatcom Land Trust (the Trust) has worked to protect and steward Whatcom County’s special places for future generations of all species. You’ve most likely experienced their impact without realizing it — perhaps hiking, biking, or playing in one of the 19 Whatcom County public parks created with the help of Whatcom Land Trust over the past 40 years. Lookout Mountain Reserve, Stimpson Family Nature Reserve, Teddy Bear Cove, and Galbraith Mountain are just a few you might have enjoyed.

According to board member Rand Jack, who helped co-found the organization 40 years ago, the Trust “looked to protect a variety of land — particularly natural areas — that would provide [access] opportunities and protect habitat for animals that were here long before we were.”

The very first county park the Land Trust helped establish was Teddy Bear Cove — a popular beach with a trail that winds through coastal forest and bird habitat to saltwater shoreline and tide pools.

Rand Jack of Whatcom Land Trust and the Stimpson Family cut the ribbon at the opening of Stimpson Family Nature Reserve, circa 2000.

“When it went up for sale, the Land Trust was able to step in and put out a fundraising call to its supporters, raising enough money to acquire the property,” says Board Member Chris Moench, who has served the organization since 1990. “That was done in conversation with the County Parks Director at the time, Roger Despain. We agreed the county would end up purchasing Teddy Bear Cove from the Land Trust. But the Land Trust was able to act quickly, and that was key to preventing development. Now it’s a beloved county park and the Trust holds a conservation easement.”

For 40 years the Land Trust has prioritized protecting parks to ensure public access for future generations. It’s critical to protect places like Stimpson Family Nature Reserve, “where people can visit and enjoy and appreciate the land,” says Rand Jack. “It’s really hard to convince people to protect something if they’ve never seen it or experienced it.”

When the Stimpson family first approached the Land Trust, they entrusted the process of determining how to conserve the family’s land to Jack, needing all siblings of the Stimpson family to make a unanimous decision. “It was a long process, and I think that now the Stimpson family is delighted with what’s happened,” Jack says. “Stimpson has been embraced by the community, it is a real sign of possibility, of hope. You walk these trails, you’ll hardly ever find a piece of trash. I don’t know of any other park where you walk this every day for a week and you will not see a piece of trash.”

Whatcom Land Trust co-founder and board member Rand Jack with a piece from his latest art exhibition, Carving Birds and Conserving Land, on display in Whatcom Museum’s John M. Edson Hall of Birds, Old City Hall, April 27 through October 27. Photo courtesy Whatcom Land Trust

“Conservation for the community, by the community…” is listed on the sign at the entrance to Stimpson Family Nature Reserve. That phrase represents the Trust’s commitment to community-focused conservation, and honors the ongoing and special partnership with Whatcom County Parks and Recreation.

As the Land Trust continues to grow and protect more properties, they work to align conservation strategies with other community groups, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Indian Tribe, and other government entities working toward shared conservation values and connecting the community with the land. The Trust’s individual properties are connected to the larger ecosystems of Whatcom County, and their protection and management have a large impact on habitat health and connectivity, river system function and climate resilience. The Trust has now protected more than 26,000 acres of land through conservation easements, land ownership and facilitation.

Whatcom Land Trust invites everyone to attend their upcoming 40th Anniversary Party at Structures Brewing on April 12.

Celebrate the Land Trust’s 40th anniversary by joining one of their upcoming events. Attend an art exhibition, chat conservation, and/or get your shovel dirty at the following upcoming 40th Anniversary celebration events.

40th Anniversary Party at Structures Brewing
Friday, April 12, 5:30–8 p.m.

Celebrate 40 years of conservation with live folk music, toasts from prominent community members, a raffle (including merch with our new logo), and birthday cake for everyone!

Earth Day Work Party at Ladies of the Lake
Saturday, April 20, 9 a.m.12 p.m.

Care for the land you love this earth day by joining a work party and helping to restore a beautiful ecosystem next to Lake Whatcom.

Rand Jack & Whatcom Land Trust Fireside Chat at Whatcom Museum
Friday, May 3, 5–6:30 p.m.

The latest art exhibition by Whatcom Land Trust co-founder and conservationist Rand Jack, Carving Birds and Conserving Land, wil be on display April 27 through October 27 at Whatcom Museum’s John M. Edson Hall of Birds in Old City Hall. The fireside chat will share conservation stories from the last forty years and answer audience questions.

For more details and events, follow Whatcom Land Trust on social media or scan the QR code below to sign up for Whatcom Land Trust’s e-newsletter so you don’t miss out. Stewardship work parties, the annual Spring Benefit, guided birding tours, and hiking opportunities are all planned on Trust properties over the next few months.

Featured photo by Rich Bowers

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