BIRCH BAY - A project nearly 10 years in the making will be celebrated this weekend with an open house and tour of the BP Heron Center for Environmental Education.
The event begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at Birch Bay State Park, and will include a silent auction. It is open to the public.
A brief ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for 11 a.m. Friday, July 25.
The BP Heron Center for Environmental Education, 7290 Birch Bay Drive, is 2,400 square feet. It is in the park's day-use area between Terrell Creek and Birch Bay Drive.
The front half of the building is an open picnic shelter with a roof, and the back part is enclosed.
The nonprofit Friends of Birch Bay State Park led the project, which was paid for with private donations from the community and made possible with support and labor from volunteers.
"We've been sort of 10 years dreaming of this project. We're excited about it," said Doralee Booth, president of the Friends.
The project also was done in collaboration with Birch Bay State Park.
"It's very exciting to have it finally completed and available to the public," said ranger Ted Morris, who is the park's manager.
The new building's enclosed space will allow for year-round interpretive programs at the park.
"It gives us a lot more flexibility for a lot more programs that we wouldn't be able to have without the enclosed meeting room," Morris said.
The center will offer much-needed community meeting space and will be available for rentals.
Money for the project came from private donations. BP Cherry Point Refinery and Alcoa Intalco Works were the largest donors at $115,000 and $25,000 respectively.
The building project cost about $160,000, although additional money is being raised for some furnishings, equipment and minimal landscaping.
Mills Electric in Bellingham donated the electrical work.
The Friends are operating the building in conjunction with Washington State Parks.
IF YOU GO
What: Open house for the new BP Heron Center for Environmental Education. The event will include a silent auction, a tour of the center, desserts and music from the Bellingham Alumni Band.
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 26.
Where: The center is at Birch Bay State Park's day-use area between Terrell Creek and Birch Bay Drive. Its address is 7290 Birch Bay Drive. Motorists will need an annual Discover Pass or a day-use pass for parking.
Details: fobbsp.org or go to the Friends of Birch Bay State Park page on Facebook.