History of Lily Point

Straits Salish Salmon Reef Net Image PN11359 Courtesy Royal British Columbia Museum

Chelhtenem, “hang salmon for drying,” is the name used by the Native Straits Salish people for this place at the heart of the Salish Sea, the maze of inland saltwater shared by Washington and British Columbia. Sand, gravel, and rock deposited by the melting ice age glaciers created this landscape. The shallow mudflats and the underwater reef extending to the southeast create a rich habitat for marine life. Sand eroded from the bluffs is ideal for spawning forage fish, and thick eelgrass and kelp beds provide cover. Sockeye salmon returning from their long ocean journey pass close to these shores as they seek their birth stream to continue the cycle of life. Orca whales sing underwater as they hunt for salmon.

For untold centuries, the First Salmon Ceremonies performed here gave thanks for this bounty. Alaska Packers Association (APA) operated a salmon cannery at Lily Point from 1884-1917. Fish traps that supplied the cannery displaced native fishers and depleted salmon populations.

Photo at right - APA Cannery at Lily Point, 1910

Protecting Lily Point

Growing urban populations sought out Lily Point for its spectacular views and quiet respite. Amid pressures to develop the property for housing and a resort, in 2008 a cooperative venture of local residents, Whatcom Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Washington Departments of Fish & Wildlife and Ecology, and Whatcom County secured funding to purchase the 280 acre property and protect it for posterity. The park was supposed to be designated a marine reserve, but is currently a Whatcom County park. We do ask that you interact with it as if it were a more protected area to preserve it for future generations and visitors.

Historical information courtesy of Whatcom County Parks Department

Lily Point Park Information, Trails

Getting Here

Follow I-5 to Peace Arch border crossing, then continue on Route 99 to Exit 28. Follow Highway 17 South to Tsawwassen.
Turn left on 56th Street to Point Roberts border crossing. Follow Tyee Drive. Turn left on APA Rd. to parking area at end of road.

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