Jensenland trust dedication Oct. 20

Published on Thu, Oct 19, 2006 by ack Kintner

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Jensen land trust dedication Oct. 20

By Jack Kintner

The Jensen Family Forest Park at 8004 Stein Road will be dedicated and officially opened Friday morning, October 20.

The 23-acre parcel is part of over 150 acres that have been added to land administered by the Whatcom County Parks System in the Blaine-Birch Bay area in just the past few months through the activities of the Whatcom Land Trust.

In addition to the Forest Park property, which the Jensen’s still own but have placed both conservation and park use easements, Ray and Betty Fenton have also given their 77-acre Valley View Road dairy farm over to the land trust, in this case by selling it outright. A five-acre piece will be held back as a life estate for the couple, now in their 70s.

Another 51 acres including over a quarter mile of saltwater beach near Point Whitehorn was added to the county parks system by the land trust last month in a land swap with the Trillium Corporation.

The locally-based non-profit has acquired over 7,000 acres of land in the county since its founding in 1984, and according to development director Gordon Scott the group’s purpose is to “help landowners preserve places that, to them, have become special in a way that fits in with their overall plans. It’s like making dreams come true for people reluctant to leave a special place behind or to sell out to development interests.”

Donations are not always turned into parks. The BP-Cherry Point refinery gave a conservation easement on a 77-acre parcel they own just west of Jackson Road 10 years ago to provide protection for the third largest Great Blue Heron nesting colony in the state, and though it abuts Birch Bay State Park it is not open to the public.

Both of the new parcels that lie southeast of Blaine are parts of old dairy farms.

Ray Fenton bought his farm in 1951 from his father, the third owner of the parcel once homesteaded by old John Stoops, who died in 1904 and is buried in the nearby Haynie cemetery.

Haynie Creek, a tributary of Dakota Creek, runs through it, and still hosts runs of fish and wildlife, including bears and occasionally cougars. The property also features a natural pond.

Money for the purchase, which cost the land trust $100,000 and the Washington State Department of Ecology $500,000, came from a settlement paid by Olympic Pipeline Company after their underground gas pipeline ruptured in Whatcom Falls Park in Bellingham in 1999.
Scott said he’s been working with Fenton on the matter for the past three years.

The Jensen Family Forest Park is part of a 270-acre dairy farm his father bought in 1919 after emigrating from Denmark.

There’s now a 2-mile path that winds through the woods with the first quarter mile or so compacted enough to provide wheeled access.
Friday morning’s festivities include recognition of donated help from Cowan Construction and Whatcom builders in creating a parking area and a short speech by Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen.
Following that the public will be invited along on a hike of a little less than a mile to begin exploring Whatcom County’s newest park.