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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

Have you noticed activity out at Barney Lake, along College Way? PUD is working on improving a water transmission pipeline from Judy Reservoir to Mount Vernon. A portion of this work will take place on the Trust's Barney Lake Conservation Area, where the water line crosses the Nookachamps.

PUD has a project staging area on Trust land immediately north of College Way, which will accommodate the stringing and welding of approximately 1,900 lineal feet of 36-inch welded steel pipe. This segment of pipe is scheduled to be installed underneath the Nookachamps Creek via directional drilling methods beginning in early August and commencing in early October of 2021. The next segment of the pipe, which will run along a portion of Hwy 9, will be constructed by summer 2022. A final segment from College Way to the west side connection point of the drilled segment is scheduled to occur in 2022.

Some information available from PUD by clicking here


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.

Conservation Story

Protection Many Years in the Making

The protection of Barney Lake began in 1995 with two donations of land and two acquisitions by 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, 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 Public Works, WA State Department of Ecology, and Ducks Unlimited to re-meanderTrumpeter Creek through its historic floodplain in an effort to build more suitable habitat for salmon. The Skagit River System Cooperative (SRSC) installed native plants along the Nookachamps River in 2017-2018, with more plantings planned. Over 7,500 trees and shrubs have been planted on this property.

Read more about restoration efforts in 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 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. 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 students 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. 


Barney Lake Conservation Area is open to pedestrian access, but there are not any developed trails or access points at this time.

Public access to Barney Lake is expected to change in the near future, with plans for increased access, signage, and trails. 

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.

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: 376 acres
  • Date Added: 1995, 1997, 2000, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2022
  • Please visit this property!

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