Property Acquisition Program

Watershed protection is the first and most basic step in a multi-barrier approach to insuring pure drinking water. Our duty to provide clean water for over 100,000 residents begins with careful land management.

In 2001, the City began a program to purchase available land in the Lake Whatcom Watershed, funded by water​shed fees. The program aims to protect Lake Whatcom through the conservation and management of the acquired land. As of June 2022, the City has purchased approximately 2,400 acres at a cost of about $35.5 million dollars. The City has also protected on additional 164 acres of land through conservation easements or restrictive covenants.​

Lands Protected by the Property Acquisition Program

Visit the City of Bellingham's Lake Whatcom Acquisition and Preservation Program page for a list of protected properties and more information about this program.

Selection Criteria

The City has set essential criteria to rate properties for acquisition. These ratings include density potential, slope and physical features of the land which relate to drainage, proximity to the lake, and the parcel's potential water quality benefit. Property selection has prioritized large parcels with the most development potential as well as properties that are adjacent to already protected lands or sensitive areas.

Property Management

Management activities on protected properties include regular property inspections, removal of invasive species and the planting of native species, and the mitigation of multiple encroachments through the use of letters, gates, and signage.

Sign installation at property

House removal from property

Native planting at property