It's good to have friends in nice places

Published on Thu, Jul 5, 2001 by Meg Olson

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It's good to have friends in nice places

By Meg Olson

Birch Bay State Park has a lot of friends, but park ranger Ted Morris wanted to make it official. Following some initial legwork, the Friends of Birch Bay State Park board of directors started meeting in May and the non-profit organization is now looking for members.

“We hope for it to be a vehicle for the community to have some input into the park and support the park,” Morris said. The group is modeled on similar “friends” organizations that have been successful at other state parks in raising funds, promoting education and helping with park planning and projects.

“There is a lot of community pride in the park already,” said Scott Walker, president of the new organization’s board and public affairs officer for BP Cherry Point Refinery. “We needed a vehicle to allow people interested in supporting the park or volunteering an avenue to do that.”

The new board’s first steps were to obtain non-profit status, write up bylaws and develop a brochure to publicize the group’s purpose and goals. State non-profit status was confirmed in May but Morris said federal tax-exempt status was still pending. The new brochure is being printed and will be unveiled at the BP open house at the refinery July 13.

One of the organization’s primary goals will be to raise funds for special projects and programs at the park. “In order to do larger projects and fund larger ideas we need another fundraising mechanism,” Walker said. Morris said some ideas for capital projects included a play area for children, including some big toys, and restoration work to natural areas such as Terrell Creek. Funds could also be used to expand interpretive programs and signage at the park.
Memberships in the organization, which will be tax deductible once the organization’s tax-exempt status is confirmed, will be the initial fundraising step, but Morris said he hopes members will become instrumental in planning additional fundraisers.
Walker said corporate memberships would play an important role in building the organization’s coffers. “The refinery has a history of supporting the park and this will give us a way to do things more formally,” he said. “We hope other businesses will come on board as well.”
Friends of the park will do more than raise money, Morris said. “We’re anticipating there will be much more than just fundraising. There will be volunteer opportunities as well. There could be work projects, such as our annual clean-up day. It could also offshoot a group to work with the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association on some habitat restoration.”
Morris said a membership in Friends of Birch Bay State Park will be more than work and check-writing. “I want everyone to enjoy their membership,” he said. Preliminary plans include an annual dinner, regular educational and planning meetings and other special events for members.
Annual dues come at four ornithological levels, ranging from the wren membership, $15, to the hawk, $50. There is also the Eagle membership for donors who want to contribute more. “It’s all voluntary based on how much you want to contribute,” Walker said. For more information call the park at 371-2800.

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