Monday, October 13th, 2014
Wildlife teeming at Tennant Lake Recreation Complex
Todd Elsworth

Fall in Whatcom County is a great time to get outside and watch wildlife as they, too, get ready for the coming of winter. Whether it’s migrating birds just passing through or resident wildlife in their element, I enjoy the experience of admiring the fauna from near and afar. Tennant Lake– one mile southeast of the City of Ferndale, is one of the best places around to find success in this endeavor.

TennantLake

Near the parking lot a sign from Blaine Lorimer’s Eagle Project, Boy Scout Troop 26 reads, “Tennant Lake Recreation Complex is a cooperative project between Washington Department of Game and Whatcom County Parks and Recreation Board. This complex provides a wide range of outdoor and educational uses for your enjoyment.

Included within its 720 acres is an interpretive Center, Wildlife Viewing Tower, one half mile of Boardwalk Trail, hiking trails, a boat launch facility and fishing access along the Nooksack River.

These developments were completed to enhance your outdoor experience and appreciation for the wildlife of Washington.” There are a number of scout projects that you will come across throughout the grounds. Thank you to these boys and their troops for their enhancement projects!

The variety of options for wildlife viewing create a full day of opportunity. The Interpretive Center is a great place to start and finish your day. It offers mounted wildlife displays, “kid’s rooms” and maps that interpret the flora, fauna and wetland habitat of the area. An on-site naturalist is available to answer any questions. The center is open year round, but hours vary according to season.

TennantLakeFragranceGarden
Contact the Center (360-384-3064) or visit the Whatcom Parks and Recreation Department Tennant Lake website for complete information.

Wildlife Viewing Tower is a 50-foot tower that gives visitors an unobstructed view of Tennant Lake and the surrounding wetlands. From the tower Mt. Baker to the east creates a backdrop for nature observation. A monitor at the base of the tower allows those in wheelchairs to experience the sights from up top. Pan, tilt, and zoom functions on the camera provide the disabled visitor a range of viewing possibilities.

TennantLakeMonitorScreen

The stair climb is worth the view. Once you’re up in the Wildlife Viewing Tower you can look all around to soak in the surroundings. On clear days, Mount Baker sits comfortably in the distance. The above and below pictures are of the same perspective of the mountain in the background.

TennantLakeView

Adjacent to the center is the award winning Fragrance Garden. Visitors are encouraged to touch, smell and enjoy the beauty of plants. The raised beds are wheelchair accessible and have a unique Braille system that provides plant identification for the blind. This is a view looking back down into the garden.

TennantLakeGardenView

There are a number of trails to walk along. Listed conveniently on a sign at the center, the trails offer great variety to get out there and enjoy nature and the wildlife that abounds at Tennant Lake Area. The Boardwalk Loop* – 1 mile round trip, offers beautiful views of Mt. Baker and Tennant Lake. Watch for beavers, great blue herons and frogs.

TennantLakeBoardwalk

You may also like to consider the River Dike Access Trail -1 mile round trip, the trail offers a level walk surrounded by deciduous trees and open fields. Keep your eyes open for woodpeckers. The Hovander Homestead Trail also offers a 1 mile round trip to the homestead and back- bordering a slough, providing for opportunity to observe muskrats, red-winged blackbirds and wood ducks.

Driving Directions
I-5 exit 262 (Ferndale). R (W) on Main St. appx 1 mile. Get in L lane – take immediate L after you pass under railroad tressle (Hovander Rd). From Hovander Rd, turn R on Neilsen Rd. Go appx 1 mi – ends at Tennant Lake parking lot.

* The Boardwalk is currently closed for Waterfowl Hunting Season. The General Waterfowl Season lasts until January 25, 2015. During this time, the north half of Tennant Lake is a Game Reserve CLOSED TO ALL HUNTING AND PUBLIC ACCESS during hunting season.

Hunter Sign IN sheet. Attention Hunters: Hunting on Tennant Lake is only allowed in the three existing blinds. Access to the blinds is only by boat through the adjacent channel. The Boardwalk is closed for safety. You may not hunt from The Boardwalk. – DFW sign.

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About the Author:

As the co-Executive Director of Recreation Northwest and the founder of the Bellingham Traverse, Todd promotes outdoor recreation and brings people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. He enjoys biking, hiking, paddling, skiing and will try anything twice. Get connected at RecreationNorthwest.org.

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