Council to consider lifting horse ban on Birch Bay Drive

Published on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 by Tara Nelson

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Whatcom County Council members are looking into lifting a ban on horse traffic on Birch Bay Drive after a local resident unveiled a business proposal for horse-drawn carriage rides along the waterfront.

On Tuesday, Whatcom County public works committee members discussed a possible amendment to the ban, which has been in place since 1985 after residents complained about traffic problems and horse manure.

Birch Bay resident Roger Edmonds had written to county officials saying he would like to hook his six-year-old Clydesdale mare Alamar Abigail (Ally) to a surrey for tours along the water on Birch Bay Drive.

Members of the local business community and the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce have already voted their support for the proposal as long as the horses have manure collection device, or diaper, Birch Bay chamber president Lilsa Guthrie said.

“We really feel it’s in the spirit of the kinds of activities that people come to Birch Bay,” she said.
Edmonds, who has nearly 14 years experience operating dive trips in the Caribbean, said he was encouraged by Monday’s meeting with the committee.

Whatcom County Council member Barbara Brenner, who is a member of the committee, said she liked the idea but with certain caveats. “We all think it’s a good idea but the devil is in the details,” she said. “Hopefully we can get all of those things worked out.”

She added Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said he had some concerns regarding traffic that he wanted to address during before giving his nod of approval.

Edmonds said he grew up in Iowa along the banks of the Mississippi River and got the idea for a horse carriage business when his mother sent him a postcard that included a carriage riding along the waterfront there. He had purchased Ally nearly six years ago to have a horse to ride with his daughter but noticed that Ally seemed to enjoy pulling a cart more than wearing a saddle.

“The postcard had this couple that had put together a horse and carriage business and were running it up and down the waterfront and then I thought this would be great for Birch Bay,” he said. “Here’s this horse out there that likes doing something and I like doing something and if we can make a little money and buy a couple of bales of hay at the end of the season, then all the better. We’re going to just give it a shot and see what happens.”

The public works committee will discuss the issue again at their next regular meeting. After that, Brenner said the council could put together an amendment in two to four weeks.