Posted: June 14, 2012 5:36:15 AM PDT
City employees converged on Chuckanut Ridge Thursday (June 14, 2012) in a massive clean-up effort of the southside property purchased by the City last fall.
Armed with garbage bags, gloves, tools, enthusiasm and training, more than 60 Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department employees formed teams and fanned out over the roughly 80-acre parcel and surrounding park lands. Crews cleaned up old tents, sleeping bags, tarps, bottles, cans and other garbage from more than 30 camps and dump sites spread across the property.
By noon, tons of garbage had been collected and hauled out of the woods. Today's work party followed a similar effort by volunteers from nearby neighborhoods.
"We are very happy with the work that has gone into cleaning up the area and making it a better place to visit," James King, Parks and Recreation Director, said. "Neighbors have enjoyed trails through the area for years, though many of the trails are in need of improvement. These events are a great step in the right direction for improving the park."
King said today's project was intended to accomplish an overwhelming task by getting many people involved. Because the camps were some distance from the roads, much of the work was hauling the trash out to where it could be placed in trucks for removal from the site. It also was a great opportunity for employees from across the department to come together in a united effort.
Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville -- who recently dubbed the City property the Chuckanut Community Forest -- joined the team for lunch to thank them for their clean-up work on this important tract of City property.
"Before recreational access is available the site needs to be readied for the public," Linville said. "Today was a wonderful effort by our Parks and Recreation employees, including staff who don't ordinarily work outdoors, and also helped improve a City asset."
King said a plan to identify future needs for the Chuckanut Community Forest -- expected to include protected open space, trails, accessibility enhancements and more -- will be initiated by his department later in 2012, and will include opportunities for members of the public to weigh in. City resources for parks construction and maintenance are limited, he added, so making improvements could take time and many more volunteer work parties.