Lily Point, Point Roberts

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Lily Point, Point Roberts

by | May 5, 2020

Lily Point Marine Reserve is a park located within the southeastern portion of Point Roberts, about 22 miles (35 km) south-southeast of Vancouver and 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Bellingham, Washington. The marine reserve encompasses more than 275 acres (111 ha), with 1.4 miles (2.3 km) of saltwater shoreline along Boundary Bay. The Native Salish name for the point is Chelhtenem meaning “hang salmon for drying”.

Point Roberts is a pene-exclave of the United States, and part of Whatcom County, Washington, located on the southern tip of the Tsawwassen Peninsula, British Columbia. Area residents must travel 25 miles (40 km) by road from the northern border of Washington State through Canada, however, direct sea and air connections with the United States are also available across Boundary Bay. Point Roberts was created when Britain and the United States settled the Pacific Northwest American-Canadian border dispute in the mid-19th century with the Oregon Treaty. Both parties agreed the 49th parallel would delineate both countries’ territories, but they overlooked the small area that incorporates Point Roberts which is south of the 49th parallel.

Lily Point was historically an important Native American reef net fishery and one of the most significant salmon fisheries of the Central Coast Salish. In 1889, 16 reef nets were in operation and a single net would catch as many as 2,000 fish a day. For many centuries Chelhtenem was a center of traditional salmon culture and a place of great spiritual power for Native Peoples. In the late 19th century, fish traps displaced traditional reef nets. Alaska Packers purchased a cannery at Lily Point in 1884. The cannery was abandoned in 1917, leaving pilings and debris still visible today. In 2008, Whatcom County acquired this property with the assistance of The Nature Conservancy and Whatcom Land Trust. Major goals in the planning process for the park include the preservation of the site’s natural and cultural heritage and public access. Read more here and here. Explore more of Lily Point here:

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