Whatcom County officials have scheduled a test docking of the Whatcom Chief in Fairhaven for Tuesday, Jan. 26.
The reason for this unusual test is that the Lummi Island ferry dock lease with Lummi Nation expires Feb. 14. Negotiations are in progress, but the county wants to be prepared if no deal is reached. The county needs to make sure they have a backup plan in place for getting people and vehicles on and off the island.
Port of Bellingham and County engineers have been studying the feasibility of docking the ferry at the port's Bellingham Cruise Terminal, where presently an Alaska state ferry docks every Friday.
The run to Fairhaven would be 50 minutes compared to the 10 minute trip to the present site. There are also issues about getting children to school who go to Ferndale schools.
A new group of island residents has formed called Protect Lummi Island Community, they would prefer to see efforts focus on a long-term agreement with the Lummi's to keep the ferry dock at it's present location.