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Conserving wildlife habitat, agricultural and forest lands, scenic open space, wetlands, and shorelines for the benefit of our community and as a legacy for future generations.

Barney Lake Property

Property Description

The Barney Lake Conservation Area protects critical open water, wetland and working resource lands just to the east of growing Mt. Vernon, Washington. Over-wintering populations of waterfowl, including Canada geese and trumpeter swans, find refuge at the lake. The Nookachamps Creek, which borders the eastern edge of the property, provides important habitat for salmon. The open fields and surrounding farmland demonstrates the ability of working resource lands to co-exist with nesting and forage areas for bald eagles and great blue herons.

 Barney Lake with view of Mount Baker, looking north. Photograph by Christine Farrow.

View of Barney Lake and Mount Baker, looking north. Photograph by Christine Farrow.

Protection Many Years in the Making

The protection of Barney Lake began in 1995 with two donations of land and two acquisitions by the Skagit Land Trust. Nearly 80 acres of land along the western and northern shores of Barney Lake were donated to the Trust in 1995 and 1997. An additional 15 acres were purchased using a grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2000. In 2012, the Skagit Land Trust acquired an additional 255 acres through a community fundraising campaign and with the support of Ducks Unlimited and a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant. 

In 2014 Skagit Land Trust expanded protection in the Barney Lake area by purchasing the forested 16 acre Bell Property with contributions from 250 donors and grants from the Skagit Community Foundation’s Clarence Stewart Fund for the Environment, the Seattle Audubon Society’s Martin Miller Fund, the Norcliffe Foundation, Skagit Audubon, and the North American Wetland Conservation Act.

In 2016, Quadrant Homes donated 3.67 acres of land along College Way to the Conservation Area. These forested wetlands are in very good condition, with intact native vegetation.

Stewardship and Future Restoration

With the help of our volunteers and partners, Skagit Land Trust is working to restore and protect the wetlands, lake front and riparian areas of the Barney Lake Conservation Area. Since 2000, volunteers have planted several thousand trees in the pastures above the lake, beginning the restoration of forested habitat around the wetland. In 2017, Skagit Land Trust partnered with Skagit County and Ducks Unlimited to re-meander the channel of Trumpeter Creek that flows along the southern end of the property in an effort to build more suitable habitat for salmon. 

SRSC installed native plants along the Nookachamps River in 2017-2018, with more plantings planned. 

Read more about restoration efforts in the Skagit Land Trust Fall 2017 Newsletter cover story featuring Barney Lake and Trumpeter Creek. 

Creating Connections: The Centennial Trail

The Centennial Trail is a regional non-motorized trail that runs along portions of the old north/south abandoned Burlington Northern railroad right of way in Puget Sound. Throughout a given year, over 500,000 hikers and bikers use the trail as it ambles its way through rolling farmlands, historic towns, and crosses several flourishing streams of Snohomish County.

Currently this popular trail ends a mile north of the Snohomish County line. Skagit County Parks has become more active in developing the Centennial Trail and has partnered with Skagit Land Trust to secure access for the future trail along the eastern edge of this wildlife sanctuary, adding significantly to the aesthetic value of the trail corridor. Skagit County Parks assisted with purchasing the trail portion of this property through funds derived from a portion of the state gasoline tax that allows for the acquisition and development of corridors that promote non-motorized connections.

Involving Youth: Barney Lake as a Conservation Classroom

Because of its close proximity to Mount Vernon, the Barney Lake Conservation Area is an important place of field-based learning for the schools and communities of the lower Skagit. Barney Lake is part of the Skagit Land Trust’s Conservation Classrooms program, which provides hands-on learning experiences through field-based education and stewardship projects for elementary, middle and high school classes in Skagit County. Teachers are invited to bring their students for field trips with custom programming provided by Skagit Land Trust staff. See our Engaging Youth in Conservation page for details. 

 Students from Emerson High school participate in salmon restoration at Trumpeter Creek

Conservation Classrooms provides hands-on learning experiences in nature and connects the subjects they are studying in the classroom to the real world. The program also instills stewardship ethics and shows students the difference they can make in their community. In October 2017, students and staff from Emerson High School, along with volunteers from Skagit Land Trust and partner organizations worked to transfer fish in Trumpeter Creek from the former ditch to the restored meandering channel. Photograph credit: Skagit Land Trust staff.

Click here to view information about the land stewards for this and other Skagit Land Trust properties. 

Access

There are several ways to access the Barney Lake property.

1) Northern property access: From Swan Road in Mount Vernon, park at the cul-de-sac on Signe Road (about 1 mile west of Francis Road). Park along the pavement on the west edge of Signe Place then walk down the grassy strip toward the forest perimeter of the lake. Click here for a map

2) Southern property access: The southwestern portion of Barney Lake can be accessed from College Way across the street from the 7th Day Adventist Church. The shoulder is wide enough to park along the south side of College Way and walk over when there is a safe break in traffic. The gate is not always open, but visitors are welcome to climb over it if they would like to visit the property. The Skagit Land Trust plans to improve this and other access points in the future. Click here for a map

To access other parts of the Barney Lake Conservation Area, please call the Skagit Land Trust at 360.428.7878. We have a lease agreement with a farmer on some parts of the property and some areas have limited access due to wildlife sensitivity. Public access to Barney Lake is expected to change in the near future, with plans for increased access, signage and trails. 

Skagit Land Trust GIS map: Barney Lake access

 Click on the map above for an enlarged image. 

How to Get There

Barney Lake is located approximately 4 miles northeast of Mount Vernon. From Burlington, take exit 227 on I5 south to Rt. 538 (East College Way) and follow east for 3 miles. Directions to access specific parts of the property are outlined above.

Property Photos

Rainbow over Barney Lake Barney Lake aerial - Christine Farrow Barney Lake forest Bell Forest Barney Lake with Big Rock

Property Info

  • Type: Trust-Owned
  • Location: Barney Lake
  • Acreage: 361 acres
  • Date Added: 1995, 2012, and 2014
  • Please visit this property!

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