City hosts MLK, Jr. Day of Service Jan. 21

Community members invited to help restore Whatcom Creek

January 03, 2019 - by Stefanie Cilinceon, Natural Resources Education and Outreach

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Community members are invited to join the City of Bellingham Parks Volunteer Program, City of Bellingham Public Works and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) for a community work party in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. The annual work party will take place at Maritime Heritage Park, 500 W. Holly Street in downtown Bellingham, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 21.

Volunteers will remove invasive species and plant native plants around the Whatcom Creek estuary, contributing to ongoing efforts to improve water quality, salmon habitat and green space. Maritime Heritage Park serves as a gathering place for people of all backgrounds in Bellingham, especially people experiencing homelessness, given its location and proximity to services.

Volunteers are invited to join in promoting Dr. King’s vision of a “beloved community” – a community in which poverty, hunger and homelessness do not exist – by bringing donations of hats, mittens, scarves, blankets, sleeping bags, handwarmers and non-perishable food to this event in support of The Lighthouse Mission. 

What: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Community Work Party

When: Monday, Jan. 21, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by a celebration with free pizza and a raffle.

Where: Maritime Heritage Park, park at 1600 C Street. Sign in near the fish hatchery.

Travel by bus or bike: Several Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) bus routes will get you to Maritime Heritage Park. The park is also accessible by bike. Find your bus route using WTA’s online trip planner or your bike route by visiting

Travel by car: Parking is available in the lot at the end of C Street.

Who: You, your friends and family, and other community members (all ages welcome!)

You need: Weather-appropriate clothing and closed-toe shoes. Please bring any hats, mittens, scarves, blankets, sleeping bags, hand-warmers or non-perishable food items you would like to donate.

We provide: Tools, gloves, instructions, a raffle hosted by NSEA and pizza donated by Papa John’s.

Hosted by: Bellingham Parks Volunteer Program, Bellingham Public Works Natural Resources and NSEA.

Work party contact: Amy Brown, Parks Volunteer Coordinator, at or 360-778-7105.

Details: RSVP is not required for this free event. Youth under the age of 18 must provide a

MLK Outreach Map_Simple Background.jpg

Maritime Heritage Park is part of the traditional homelands of the indigenous Coast Salish people, specifically the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Nation. The Whatcom Creek estuary, located in Maritime Heritage Park, has a long history of human activities impacting water quality and habitat, including a landfill beginning in the 1880s and later a sewage treatment plant. Development of Maritime Heritage Park began in the 1970s when the sewage treatment plant was transformed into a salmon hatchery.

Since 1994, NSEA – a non-profit organization that strives to recover salmon by engaging the community in restoration, education, and stewardship – has been working with the City’s Natural Resources Restoration Program and the Parks and Recreation Department to improve fish and wildlife habitat in Maritime Heritage Park. In addition, in 2004 the City restored portions of the estuary by excavating and disposing of about 13,000 tons of solid waste, installing a protective cap, converting approximately 0.3 acres from an upland parking lot to intertidal fish habitat, reintroducing native plants and adding a boardwalk with viewpoints along the north bank to provide public access to the shoreline.

City-sponsored Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) crews continue to restore riparian areas along the entire length of Whatcom Creek and estuary by planting thousands of native shrubs and trees and removing invasive plants at numerous restoration sites along the stream. In addition, the Parks Volunteer Program supports weekend work parties and community stewardship at Maritime Heritage Park and other Bellingham parks. Restoration and stewardship efforts will continue into the future as additional riparian projects are developed.

Ongoing environmental restoration work at Whatcom Creek includes planting native plants along the stream to minimize erosion, reduce water temperatures, filter pollutants and provide food and shelter for fish and wildlife. Planting native plants also enhances critical habitat for a number of fish species, including steelhead trout, and coho, chum, pink and Chinook salmon. This work party provides an opportunity for volunteers to directly contribute to this important work and build a healthier Bellingham community for all.

Media Contact

Analiese Burns, Habitat and Restoration Manager Natural Resources
City of Bellingham Public Works
(360) 778-7968

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