As county parks crews begin work to implement the trail improvement plan for Lily Point Marine Park they are up against park users who think it’s fine the way it is and are actively demonstrating their beliefs.
“We’ve put up barricades with limited success,” said Rod Lamb, design and development supervisor with the Whatcom County parks department. Tired of replacing barricades, parks crews have now put up signs indicating which trails are due to be closed. “There are a number of existing trails we’re closing,” Lamb said. “User trails that have been developed over a long time. We’re going to restore these informal trails to a natural vegetated state.”
Lamb said their plan called for creating a multi-user loop trail that would follow the extension of APA Road south to the main lookout and then loop back toward Claire Lane for the return to the trailhead. “Where it circles around to Claire Lane we’ll be doing some improvements to widen it,” Lamb said. Remaining trails south of the trailhead will be closed.
North of the trailhead a single narrower hiking trail is planned, keeping away from the bluff edge, and bluff-edge trails will be closed. “It’s primarily for the safety of users,” Lamb said. “It is an active eroding bluff, and it will continue to erode.” He added federal fish and wildlife officials had encouraged moving trails away from the bluff edge to put some distance between users and trees used by roosting bald eagles.
Lamb said a possible second beach access at the north end of the park had been determined to be unfeasible in a recent geotechnical report. “It is designated an erosion hazard,” he said. “It would be unsafe and require a lot of structure. Even then I’m not sure it would be feasible.”
Erik Axelson, operations manager for county parks, said they would combine persistence, education and enforcement to get users onto officially sanctioned trails. “The approach we have taken so far is when they take out a barrier or a sign, when they callously rip out newly planted vegetation, we replace it,” he said. “In a word, persistence.”
Axelson said the majority who use the park do use the designated trails. They will make efforts to educate those who don’t about why they should. “We’re discouraging you from going out there because it’s not safe,” he said. “You may be standing on something only a few feet thick. There are very specific safety and habitat reasons.”
Repeat offenders identified by park staff could face fines if they continue to damage parks property and use closed trails. “If we have to, we’re prepared to issue citations. Our rangers have the legal authority to issue them,” he said. “It’s like a parking ticket but they add up. When judicious enforcement is targeted at habitual offenders, it can be effective.”