Whatcom Magazine

Whatcom Parks and Recreation Foundation reaching out

Dick Henrie, left, recreation manager at Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department; Gary Jensen, center, Ferndale mayor; and Daniel Tepper, president of Whatcom Parks and Recreation Foundation, participate in a clapping game during the foundation’s “Parks and Partners Auction” fundraiser June 6, 2015, at Deport Market Square, Bellingham.
Dick Henrie, left, recreation manager at Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department; Gary Jensen, center, Ferndale mayor; and Daniel Tepper, president of Whatcom Parks and Recreation Foundation, participate in a clapping game during the foundation’s “Parks and Partners Auction” fundraiser June 6, 2015, at Deport Market Square, Bellingham. For The Bellingham Herald

Whatcom Parks and Recreation Foundation sprang to life 25 years ago, but mostly stayed low-profile as a conduit for money for parks and recreation projects. That’s a helpful role, but the nonprofit organization is spreading its wings by taking the lead on a 45-mile trail loop in the county, by raising and donating more money, and by hosting tours of local parks.

“We decided we wanted to take a more forward approach, a more public approach,” says Daniel Tepper, foundation president.

The foundation’s signature project is the Nooksack Loop Trail. The goal is to link Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden and Everson with a 45-mile trail that generally follows the Nooksack River and old railroad routes. The trail would link existing parks and mesh with earlier plans for county trails. It’s a long-term project, needing perhaps decades to complete because much of the route requires easements over private land negotiated with willing landowners.

“If we don’t start working on it now, we’ll never get it built,” Tepper says. “The desire for these trails has been there. The complexity for it is something that we haven’t been able to overcome.”

If a landowner isn’t interested in an easement, the trail route can be revised.

“This trail is meant to be a benefit to the community,” Tepper says. “It’s not meant to be rammed down anybody’s throat.”

Some trail segments are complete, taking advantage of existing parks and trails. Tepper says linking communities on the loop — say, Ferndale to Lynden, or Lynden to Everson —by itself will merit recognition, because people are more likely to walk or bike to a nearby community than to complete the full 45-mile circuit. Those partial links should help the foundatin meet its eventual goal of a complete loop, Tepper says.

“Wherever there is a portion that is complete, we are putting up ‘Nooksack Trail’ signs.”

Whatcom Parks and Recreation foundation

Details: 360-389-3803, info@wprfoundation.org and wprfoundation.org

Dues: Start at $25 a year. Members are encouraged to run for board positions and to help with fundraisers and park tours.

And the winners are ....

2015 recipients of grants from Whatcom Parks and Recreation Foundation:

Bellingham Trail Running Club: $480 for signs at trail intersections in the Chuckanut Mountains.

Birchwood Neighborhood Association: $375 to improve runoff along trails by posting educational signs and pet-waste stations.

Community Boating Center: $620 for conceptual drawings for a dock by the Fairhaven center’s boat ramps.

Maple Falls Park Committee: $675 for materials for a fitness trail on the perimeter of the community’s park.

Northwest Straits Foundation: $500 for an interpretive sign along a nature trail in Birch Bay State Park.

  Comments