While providing the recreational amenities that enrich the lives of Bellingham citizens, the Parks and Recreation Department strives to preserve and protect natural resources. Depending on site constraints, construction of trails and parks may impact the natural environment. Impacts to critical areas such as wetlands, streams, and their associated buffers must be "mitigated" so that the critical area is either recreated, enhanced or expanded. The result is a "no-net-loss" of ecological function. Mitigation may include creating additional wetlands or by enhancing existing areas by removing invasive weeds and installing new native plants. Educational signage and fences may also be required for mitigation.
Managing these mitigation sites is part of the City's long term commitment to protect the natural environment. The city purchases property not only for development and public access, but to also preserve natural and unique features. Critical areas provide essential habitat for wildlife and improved water quality. These natural resources also serve as passive recreation areas and provide opportunities for public education and outreach. By providing access to natural areas, park managed properties can be responsibly and sustainably enjoyed by all. The positive benefits of providing visual and physical access include encouraging stewardship by the public and minimizing degradation of the environment by unregulated use such as dumping, illegal clearing, and camping.
The Design and Development Division of Bellingham Parks and Recreation monitors and maintains mitigation sites in accordance with permit regulations under the Clean Water Act. Sites with special permit conditions are monitored by a professional biologist from 3 to 10 years after the initial impact. Additional improvements may be made to the critical area such as additional planting, weeding, and mulching. Active maintenance continues until the critical area is fully restored and self-sustaining.
In addition, the Parks and Recreation Department voluntarily implements enhancement projects even though there is no regulatory requirement to do so. Regardless of whether or not an impact has occurred to a critical area as a result of planned development, all Park sites are monitored and maintained in perpetuity. This is part of our commitment to protect the environment and make Bellingham a great place to live, work and play.
For questions about these sites or on any of the other exciting things happening at Parks and Recreation, please contact the main office at 360-778-7000 or by email at
Wetland Mitigation Sites
- Barkley Trail
- CMT Interurban
- Cordata Park Phase 1
- Cordata Park to Meadowbrook
- Division Street Trail
- Happy Valley Park
- Little Squalicum Park
- Northridge Park
- Whatcom Creek Trail Racine to Fraser Street
- Whatcom Creek Trail Racine to Meador