Sunday, August 07, 2011

Lily Point

Lily Point would have made a spectacular resort or development, but it makes a better park. Lots of hard work over many years led to its acquisition and recent dedication as a park and a marine reserve. This is the forested southeast corner of Point Roberts, a few steps removed from the residential development of Maple Beach to the north and of South Beach and the Marina to the west. For most Americans, visiting it requires a passport, since you must cross the border (twice) to get here.

From the tip of the point, you can look south to Lummi Island and Mount Constitution, northeast to the high rises of New Westminster and Burnaby in the Fraser Valley, and southwest to the Gulf Islands. On a clear day, Mount Baker rises to the east.
Lily Point itself is a cuspate foreland, bracketed by high bluffs. The bluffs to the north are bare and steep. The bluffs to the west consist include a large, deep-seated landslide, and is well-forested except in its steepest sections. It has all the classic symptoms --soft clay exposed on the beach itself, a steep shore bluff and a steeper head scarp, separated by a forested bench. I don't know how often it moves, but in the late 1990s, local residents in the area reported noise and dust when a big section let go.

Waves from the south erode the southwest bluff, carrying sediment both west to South Beach (where the sediment is periodically bypassed around the marina entrance) and north around the point towards Maple Beach. Maple Beach in the U.S. and Centennial Beach and Beach Grove on the B.C. side are part of a large complex of spits formed over the millennia by the erosion of Lily Point and then incorporated into the fringe of the Fraser delta.

Lily Point is by no means pristine and over 100 years ago it was the site of a major salmon cannery - remnants of which mark the beach on the north side of the low point. Native Americans/First Nations peoples apparently fished the point historically, but neither they nor the salmon were much of a match for industrial fishing.