County formalizes upkeep agreement for Sunset Farm

Published on Wed, May 30, 2012 by By Jeremy Schwartz

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Whatcom County Council has approved an agreement between the county parks department and a local volunteer group for the care of a county horse park in the Birch Bay area.

The Friends of Sunset Farm have been maintaining the Sunset Farm horse park, just south of Birch Bay-Lynden Road on Blaine Road, for years. Council members unanimously approved an agreement at their May 22 meeting describing the county’s and the Friends’ responsibilities in maintaining the park for the foreseeable future, county parks director Michael McFarlane said.

“This formalizes an arrangement we’ve had for the last year,” McFarlane said.

The Friends of Sunset Farm have been assisting in the operation and maintenance of the equestrian facilities, which include a jumping course and fenced-in arena, on a volunteer basis, McFarlane explained. The county parks department pays nothing for this work, and the Friends pays for its expenses through fundraising events.

McFarlane said the county parks department has similar maintenance and operation agreements with volunteer groups for parks across the county, including Hovander Homestead and Tennant Lake Park in Ferndale. Volunteer work varies per park and often depends on what the groups’ specific interests are.

“We have a variety of partnerships,” McFarlane said. “Some groups are more formal than others.”

The county parks department relies heavily on volunteers for specific park maintenance, especially at Sunset Farm, McFarlane explained. Parks department staff simply would not have the time or the resources to maintain the riding ring and jumping course.

 “We would not be able to do that for a number of reasons,” McFarlane said. “We certainly appreciate the help.”

For more information about Sunset Farm, visit www.friendsofsunsetfarm.org or email info@friendsofsunsetfarm.org.