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Galbraith CLOSED on Tuesday, August 21st!
Folks, we got the heads up that there will be herbicide spraying along the highlighted roads this Tuesday (August 21st)and, as such, we are closing the mountain for the entire day.
Notices and the below map will be going up at the main entry points on Monday. If the date changes for any reason, we’ll let you know.
Please share far and wide. Many thanks!
The Department of Natural Resources presented their Draft Baker to Bellingham Recreation Plan to the public a couple of weeks ago. They are asking for comments from our constituents and this is open for comment until August 26th so it’s important that mountain bikers give our comments asap. This has been a 2 ½ year process, so let’s make sure we have a strong showing as we cross the finish line here! You can send your comments here: SEPACENTER@DNR.WA.GOV
From our standpoint, there are two key takeaways from the Draft plan that we would like folks to comment on.
- Stewart Mountain: The WMBC would like the DNR to prioritize the area around Lake Whatcom Park on Stewart Mountain for future development. The two DNR parcels on Stewart Mountain that adjoin the North and South of the Whatcom County Park already have trail development taking place and this makes perfect sense.
- North Fork:
- The southern section along the Racehorse Creek drainage is appealing due to its higher elevations and alpine views. The only potential downsides are that it starts at a higher elevation, so it would only be accessible half of the year due to snow and it’s a significantly longer drive into this area.
- On the Northern section, we would prefer the DNR to include pre-existing trails and usage in the North Fork area with or without the conditional use that is tied to the Marbled Murrelet Conservation Strategy. Other trail networks around Western Washington will be grandfathered into the Murrelet Conservation Strategy due to their official status. While the North Fork has always been an unsanctioned trail network, it has a long history of use and it would benefit the DNR to move forward in sanctioning this area for non-motorized use. On the included map, this is the area with the diagonal lines through it.
Please be sure to send an email to the DNR at SEPACENTER@DNR.WA.GOV before the 26th of August. If you want to dig into this plan more, you can see the entire plan here: https://www.dnr.wa.gov/baker-bellingham-non-motorized-recreation-plan
City of Bellingham, Whatcom Land Trust, and Galbraith Tree Farm reach purchase and sale agreement
The City of Bellingham, Whatcom Land Trust, and Galbraith Tree Farm LLC have entered into a purchase and sale agreement that secures the public’s recreational use of up to 65 miles of trails on Galbraith Mountain in perpetuity. Bellingham City Council voted to approve the agreement on Monday night, protecting the mountain from future development.
“We are so excited to have an agreement to protect this amazing community asset,” Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville said. “Securing the public’s use of the mountain for recreation, protecting the mountain from development, and ensuring the landowner’s continued growth and harvest of timber is a win-win for everyone.”
The agreement includes both a recreational use easement and a conservation easement. Whatcom Land Trust contributed $250,000 to the purchase and the City of Bellingham Greenway Funds contributed $2.75 million for a total of $3 million. The sale is expected to close later this summer, and a management plan will be developed that covers administration, operation and management of the recreational use granted through the easement.
Galbraith Mountain is located east of Bellingham between Lake Padden and Lake Whatcom and is approximately 1/8 the size of Bellingham, reaching an elevation of 1,785 feet. The total area of the easement is 2,182 acres, with 1,023 of those acres inside the Lake Whatcom watershed. The acquisition adjoins 4,250 acres of public land managed by Whatcom County.
Galbraith Tree Farm LLC purchased the land on Galbraith Mountain from the Paulus Estate in June 2017.
Ensuring recreational use
Over the last two decades, Galbraith Mountain has been developed by mountain bikers into a nationally recognized mountain biking facility. Galbraith’s trails also support family outings, runners, hikers, and walkers. Up to now, all of these recreational uses have been allowed by the property owners on a voluntary basis. The property is zoned for commercial forestry with ongoing managed timber harvesting occurring regularly, and both recreational use and logging have successfully coexisted for many years.
“Thousands of bikers, hikers and runners use the tree farm year-round,” said Rob Janicki, principle owner of Galbraith Tree Farm. “We have worked cooperatively with the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition since 2010 to preserve and enhance the public’s recreational use of the tree farm, and our excellent record of public safety is a hallmark of that outstanding cooperation.”
Eric Brown, Trail Director for the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, said their organization is thrilled to partner with the City, Whatcom Land Trust and Galbraith Tree Farm to secure this continued public access as well as continue the property’s legacy as a working forest. Under the new agreement, it is anticipated that the trail network on Galbraith will continue to be maintained by Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition.
“While our organization has built and maintained trails on Galbraith for 32 years, there has never been guaranteed public access for recreation,” Brown said. “Over the past eight years, we’ve worked closely with Janicki Logging and formed a strong relationship that has allowed the trail network to flourish during timber harvest activity. Thanks to the City and Whatcom Land Trust, our new partnership is even more exciting. As the trail network manager, the WMBC will be able to expand our world-class trail network and host future events. With the ever-increasing popularity of our trails, trail users and the growth in Bellingham, securing access to Galbraith helps maintain this jewel of Whatcom County for all residents forever.”
Protecting Lake Whatcom
With approximately 1,023 acres located directly within the Lake Whatcom Watershed, this agreement provides important protection for Whatcom County’s drinking water supply as well. The conservation easement prohibits commercial, residential and industrial development on the site, which will in turn protect Lake Whatcom’s water quality.
“After a decade or more of effort, the Whatcom Land Trust is thrilled that the original goals of permanent recreation, public access, and protection from development have been accomplished,” Whatcom Land Trust Executive Director Rich Bowers said. “Galbraith Mountain has long been a highly used and nationally recognized resource. Now Galbraith is guaranteed to forever provide these values to the Whatcom community.”
Janicki said that Galbraith Mountain will remain a working tree farm, with Galbraith Tree Farm continuing to harvest timber in a sustainable fashion.
“GTF expects to harvest an average of 50 acres per year establishing a 40-year crop rotation, providing steady employment and goods that help support our local economy. Sustainable forestry practices ensure that the tree farm will provide a healthy forest for the foreseeable future and help sequester carbon dioxide,” he said.
Recreational activity on the mountain also contributes to tourism and outdoor recreation businesses. According to the 2015 report Economic Contribution of Outdoor Recreation to Whatcom County prepared by Earth Economics for Recreation Northwest, the yearly total economic contribution of recreation in Whatcom County is $585 million and consumer outdoor recreation spending supports a total of 6,502 jobs.
In the coming months, the parties to the agreement and WMBC will develop an operating plan to ensure that the public’s recreational use of the tree farm safely coexists with sustainable timber harvest operations on the property. The City and Galbraith Tree Farm do not anticipate any disruptions in public access for non-motorized recreational use before or after the sale is completed.
“Galbraith is an amazing example of how a private landowner, commercial forestry, the City of Bellingham, and recreation, environmental and other interests can work together to protect a place so special for everyone,” Bowers said.
For a map of Galbraith Mountain and its location in relation to Bellingham, click here.
A friend of the WMBC’s donated his near-new Chromag Surface Ti 29″ hardtail (size Medium) to be auctioned off with ALL of the proceeds going to our after-school bike club programs.
Anyone interested in this sweet ride should swing into Fanatik Bike at 1812 State Street to check out the bike and put in your bid. The opening bid was $2,500 for a bike that retails at $6,450 USD. The auction will close on Friday, August 3rd at 6 PM.
More info. about the bike here: http://www.chromagbikes.com/bikes/surface-ti-27-5-29
As many know, there were two public DNR meetings last week (one in Kendall and one in Fairhaven) and it was great to see many of our community there to express your desire to recreate on our state forests in Whatcom County. This is the culmination of 2+ years of work by the DNR and a diverse Recreation Planning Committee. At last week’s meetings, the DNR showed two concepts for areas that could have authorized recreation in the future. Concept D and Concept E
Important: Neither of the two concepts is mutually exclusive and are rather designed to get input on what you like or don’t like from each concept.
If you couldn’t attend and want to express your support for mountain biking on these landscapes, please email the DNR at: BakertoBellingham@dnr.wa.gov
Key points you may want to let them know:
- Let them know you enjoy riding your bike (and other activities) out on trails in the forests.
- Areas you’d like to see mountain bike access to include: The North Fork of the Nooksack, Middle Fork of the Nooksack and the Mirror Lake and Stewart Mountain areas (connecting into Lake Whatcom Park).
- If you ride with your family/kids, let them know that’s important to your family as well.
- Wherever possible, the DNR should assess pre-existing trails (aka, non-designated) to determine if they can be brought to appropriate trail standards. Not only would this help jump start the trail construction, but it also could save a lot of money in the process.
- If you’d like to have a legal shuttle area, please let them know that.
- Do you own a business that benefits from people recreating in Whatcom County? If so, let them know that as well.
Marbled Murrelet and our Recreation Plan:
Many folks are unaware that the DNR and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have concurrently been working on a Conservation Planning Process for a seabird called the Marbled Murrelet. You can read more about the Murrelet here.
In the Marbled Murrelet Conservation plan, it has primarily been looking at the logging of larger trees and the impact on nesting habitat for the birds. However, there was very little voice for recreation in this process which could make the construction of new trails in some parts of Whatcom County very difficult. As an example, large swaths of the North Fork and the Middle Fork have been removed from consideration. In areas around the state that already have authorized recreation and trails, those are being grandfathered into this plan. However, we have no authorized recreation in Whatcom County on DNR lands and so this may have a significant impact. As a result, the DNR has identified some large potential areas as “conditional” during the recreation planning process. That means that the “conditional” areas could only be considered for future recreation if they are NOT in final Murrelet approved areas.
What can you do? Please emphasize to the DNR that they and the US Fish and Wildlife Service need to look at how non-motorized trails are compatible with the Murrelet Conservation Strategy. For instance, we can create appropriate buffers from nesting sites, perform trail maintenance/construction during non-nesting season and can strategically locate trailheads and other infrastructure away from nesting areas to not attract predators. You can read the letter that the Baker to Bellingham Recreation Committee sent to the DNR about the Murrelet Conservation Strategy last March here.
Here is a link to the Baker to Bellingham Recreation Planning Page for future reference. Make your voice heard and ensure that the DNR knows the types of recreation you are looking for on DNR lands and where you’d like to recreate…your opinion matters!
Today, the WMBC is launching our December membership drive to help support our many initiatives for this upcoming year. We are shooting for a modest goal of 1,000 members for this next year – which we feel is achievable considering how many folks ride, run and hike in areas that we help build and maintain. A HUGE thanks to Spencer and Kyle from Level Visuals for creating a video series involving some of our members. We’re launching today with a quick video from our very own Queen of Crankworx – Jill Kintner.
To make it easier than ever to support the WMBC, we have created 3 levels – Individual, Family and Business. As part of the December membership drive, anyone that donates more than $100 will get a limited edition SST Tech T-shirt from our good friends at Treelines Northwest (Tech T’s will ship in January!).
Annual Report and our Goals for next year:
To learn more about what the WMBC is working on for next year or download our annual report, click here:
To help with our December membership drive, you can donate here:
We truly appreciate everyone’s support and can’t do what we do without you – whether it be financial support, digging in the woods or helping out with our events. You are the WMBC!
Here are several updates about logging on Galbraith below. Please be sure to scroll through everything. Thanks!
Slash Pile Burning:
As of the afternoon of November 15th, the foresters on Galbraith are starting to burn some of the large slash piles that have accumulated in several areas. They are doing this prior to planting activity and are beginning with the piles near Cedar Dust and then heading over to the Lone Wolf area next. This was supposed to start on Monday, but the winds were way too high for permitted burns the past couple of days.
We’ll keep you updated on their locations over the next week, but attached is a map of the various pile locations. This won’t affect trails or access, but there could be smoke going through certain sections of trail corridors (wind direction will affect this) and we’ll put some warning signs up – just in case.
We will have our crew with them at certain points, so they will pull bigger chunks of Cedar from the piles and set them aside for our use.
Closed: Middle SST, Air Chair and Candy:
Middle SST, Air Chair, Orient Express and Candy are all being harvested as of November 13th. Those trails are all signed closed and flagged off and were walked with the loggers last week.
Please note that the 1200 road and the Tower roads have a lot of vehicle traffic during weekdays, so please stay off of them, if possible.
Closed: Here to There, Kung Fu Theater, El Pollo, Tough Love and Pick Up Sticks
The area at the top of the wall still has a TON of activity as they process and load the logs up in that zone. As such, the Tower Road will have a lot of logging truck activity during the weekdays and we’d encourage folks to go up the Pigs or another way – if possible.
We want to send a huge thank you to Michael Storm who just wrapped up his final work day as the Volunteer Coordinator of the Civic Dirt Jumps last Saturday. Michael has been working on the DJ’s since not long after his arrival to town in 2008. Mike also led the major overhaul/rebuild of the jumps during 2012 and has kept them running great ever since as the leader of the park. Beyond that, of course, he has been a tremendous ambassador for the WMBC and our greater mountain biking community.
Please Share with your riding friends!
We are asking folks to stay off of Galbraith Tuesday (9/26). There will be aerial spraying Glyphosphate in the highlighted areas on the map and we won’t know exactly where the pilot will be at any given time. They are planning to start in the morning and hopefully will finish up everything tomorrow. If that changes, we’ll keep people posted.
Signage and flagging are up on the mountain. Thanks!
It’s been great to see folks out using and enjoying the pump track. I always see someone riding when I swing by or ride though.
A few things we’d like to emphasize as being good stewards of the pump track and Whatcom Falls Park. Remember that one huge strength of our community is our ability to self-police….so, if you see someone doing these things, gently remind them about what they’re doing is wrong and why it has a negative impact. In the end, this is a community-created resource and we’d really like to build more in other parks – which requires all of us to pitch in and help.
Basic Rules and Etiquette:
- Bikes only on the pump track! Please, no scooters, rollerblades, skateboards, RC cars, pogo sticks or any other device that doesn’t remotely look like a bike. Small wheel on things like rollerblades and other items dig into the dirt, degrade the track faster and will make maintenance a larger issue. RC cars tear the living crap out of the dirt. No exceptions here.
- Please respect folks who are playing basketball. We’ve heard from people that are really stoked about the pump track, but say they regularly have people ride right through a game or while they’re shooting hoops. This is a really simple thing to help avoid. Is someone playing basketball? Get off the court or remind a rider about it.
- When you’re riding through the park (to get to the pump track, head to Galby or even passing through the park), please ride slow and be courteous to other park users. This truly is a universal etiquette item, but with more bike traffic in Whatcom Falls park, we really want to emphasize that even more here. Take a few seconds to slow down and give a “hello” or “how ya doing?” as you pass other trail users. It’s amazing how far a little courtesy goes!
- No walking on top of the berms or sides of the pumps. This can help break down the dirt and is another maintenance item.
- If you think the track is dusty and could use some water, grab a hose and spray it down. If you have questions, ask another ride or email the wmbc at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Below are our official rules and etiquette signs, but the above items really cover 90% of the issues we’ve seen so far. Thanks again for all of the help and we’ll see you on the track!