Lummi Island Heritage Trust Strikes Deal to Purchase and Reclaim Quarry Property as the Aiston Preserve
Lummi Island Heritage Trust is proud to announce the purchase of the Lummi Island quarry property. This diverse property:
- Opens onto Smugglers Cove and Hale Passage on the southeastern slope of Lummi Mountain and includes:
- 105 acres, over 80 acres of which consist of mature forest habitat providing home to native plants and wildlife;
- 4,000 feet of shoreline;
- Four beautiful pocket beaches abutting nearby eelgrass beds that provide prime forage fish and migrating juvenile salmon habitat; and
- Abuts prime commercial and recreational fishing and crabbing waters.
- Provides healing reclamation opportunities for about 20 acres of mined lands; and
- Offers opportunity to restore about 500 feet of artificially armored shoreline used for barging during gravel mining that prevents natural shoreline processes from occurring.
Following two years of work to secure the quarry property - Phase I - the Heritage Trust worked diligently to secure grants and private donations now totaling $1,180,000 toward purchase of the property. An additional $370,000 is needed to fund acquisition-related costs and the Trust is in the process of launching a capital campaign to raise these funds. The Heritage Trust now owns the quarry property, with responsibility for preservation in perpetuity consistent with the Trust’s mission and conservation values.
This property has both local and regional conservation significance and has attracted numerous partners for both purchase and restoration. The Puget Sound Marine and Nearshore Shore Program has awarded the Trust a $600,000 Marine Shoreline Protection grant, and Whatcom County has committed $400,000 toward the purchase. The Rose Foundation has awarded $100,000 to begin restoration feasibility work. Other partners in the project include the Northwest Straits Foundation, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Lummi Nation, Whatcom County Marine Resources Committee, and many private individuals. Whatcom County Parks and Recreation will acquire an easement with the Heritage Trust to help develop a low-impact saltwater access preserve in the future. The property is closed to the public until a restoration plan has been achieved and safety issues for public access can be addressed.
The Heritage Trust will implement an extensive reclamation project - Phase II - partnering with Northwest Straits Foundation, Whatcom County, and the Washington Department of Natural Resources to repair and revegetate landscapes to a more natural state. Undertaking this reclamation is a first for the Heritage Trust. The first phase of reclamation will be to determine appropriate strategies to address the 20 acres of uplands altered by mining activity and 500 feet of shoreline used for barging gravel and rock from the mine while ensuring the area is safe for what will one day be a saltwater access preserve for low-impact public use is. Once implemented, this reclamation will help mitigate the cumulative impacts on the marine natural resources resulting from mining activities of the area.
In the future, the renewed and reclaimed habitats will be home to a variety of marine creatures and upland flora and fauna, as well as for low-impact human use. Phase III will consist of a careful planning process, and community input will be key to ensure that what happens during Heritage Trust’s first waterfront large-scale reclamation project will enhance both the future preserve and public use. Part of that planning process will clarify what agencies and entities bear responsibility for what activities related to what habitats within the property. Once an eyesore to kayakers, fishers, and boaters, the scenic shoreline will be restored and again become home to a variety of marine creatures: eagles, herons, loons, migrating shorebirds, otters, and seals among them.
Public and community involvement in planning for future use of portions of the property are an important element of the project. The Trust will hold an initial Town Hall meeting at the Lummi Island Grange on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 7 p.m. to provide an overview of the project and begin the process of public engagement and development of a low-impact resource management plan for the property. That process will involve researching and documenting archaeological and historical resources of the property, as well as ecological resources. Guided tours of the property are envisioned as part of the public outreach process to enable informed input.
Lummi Island Heritage Trust, a nationally accredited land trust, has now conserved 1,088 acres of land on Lummi Island. As development continues to impact the natural areas of Lummi Island, the San Juan Islands, Whatcom County, and the entire Puget Sound basin, preservation of remaining habitat and open spaces becomes increasingly important. The Heritage Trust looks forward to working together to acquire, reclaim, and protect Lummi Island for future generations. Together we can accomplish great things!