Construction on the 60-foot-long boat launch wrapped up earlier in the year. Photo by Jeremy Schwartz.
Both Birch Bay tourists and residents now have a new place to set sail that won’t require a drive to Blaine or Bellingham.
Construction crews have recently completed work on a concrete boat launch that sits at the south end of Birch Bay State Park. The permitting process had been underway since 2006, and construction began last October, Birch Bay State Park manager Ted Morris said.
The launch cost approximately $411,00 to build, and all the funds were acquired through a state Recreational Conservation Office grant. Obtaining permits from local, state and federal agencies was the most time-consuming part of the project, largely because Morris was handling the permitting process himself.
The state grant also paid for a parking lot – for cars with boat trailers only – just to the east of the launch. The original plans called for a new flush bathroom, but upgrades to the existing vault toilet were chosen to avoid additional permitting costs, Morris explained.
Morris said the 60-foot-long, 12-foot-wide launch is usable up to a 3-foot tide or greater and will undoubtedly see the most use during the spring and summer months starting in about May. He said he’s glad his state park will be able to provide this service to Birch Bay residents who would otherwise have to drive to Blaine or Birch Bay to launch.
“This will be a huge improvement for people who want to go out in a small boat,” Morris said.
The new launch was built over a dilapidated gravel one that was never properly permitted. This meant boaters could not legally back trailers onto the launch and had to resort to carrying their boats by hand for several feet.
Boaters will be charged $7 per boat launch in addition to a $10-per-day parking fee without a Discover Pass, Morris said.
Alternatively, boaters can purchase a $70 Natural Investment Permit, which will allow unlimited boat launches and parking for one year. The Natural Investment Permit holder can also park in other parts of the park, just like with a Discover Pass.
The Blaine Marina, for comparison, charges $7 per boat launch.
For more information on the Natural Investment Permit, visit www.parks.wa.gov/parking.