Interpretive center hearing postponed

Published on Thu, Jun 9, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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A public hearing on a proposed interpretive center for Birch Bay State Park was postponed this week after state parks officials said they wanted more time to study the area.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission asked Whatcom County hearing examiner Michael Bobbink to postpone the June 8 hearing so they could further study the archeological significance of the site proposed for the center, Birch Bay State Park ranger Ted Morris said. The hearing is the public’s chance to voice their support or concerns regarding the center to Bobbink, who will make the decision on two permits the state parks commission requires for the project.

State parks officials will hire an archeologist to study the site of the proposed center, which is near the existing restrooms on the beach along Birch Bay Drive. Morris said he does not expect the study to reveal anything that would halt the project since the area had already been disturbed when the restrooms were built.

The interpretive center, to be called the BP Heron Center, will serve as an educational space for programs the park hosts for local students and will house exhibits on wildlife native to the area, Morris explained. He said $160,000, mostly from BP Cherry Point, has already been donated to the project.

The Friends of Birch Bay State Park, the group that sponsors educational programs at the park, first proposed the idea for the center in 2003, Morris said. Members thought the park needed a space where classes could be held during winter or inclement weather, since all current educational programs are held outdoors.

Morris said a public notice announcing the rescheduled hearing would be made once that new date is determined.