Thurston Bountiful Byway nearly official

60-mile route developed over 3 years features agricultural, ecological and cultural stops

lpemberton@theolympian.comMarch 18, 2014 

In a Feb. 2012 photo volunteer guide Phil Kelley takes his weekly group of bird watchers and photographers around the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Wednesday morning while performing their regular counting and identification along the path.

STEVE BLOOM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

On Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners is slated to designate a nearly 60-mile route as the Thurston Bountiful Byway.

The scenic course – which skirts the county beginning in the Nisqually Valley, stretching to Rainier and Yelm, up to Capitol Forest and ending at the intersection of Mud Bay Road and Delphi Road Southwest – was created to help promote tourism in the rural areas of the county, according to county commissioner Sandra Romero. It’s part of the county’s larger plan to promote agritourism, she said.

“The goal is to entice people to get off the freeway and tour Thurston County,” she added “To really see it and appreciate it because we have so much bounty here.”

The route was developed in partnership with the county, the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau, Thurston County WSU Extension, the Thurston Regional Planning Council, and several farmers, business owners and others, according to county officials.

Romero said it took about three years to develop the map, which features nearly 100 suggested agricultural, ecological and cultural stops along the route.

Papercut artist Nikki McClure created and donated the logo that will be used on the signs to mark the Thurston Bountiful Byway.

Suggested stops include wineries, nurseries, creameries, historic sites and other areas that would be of interest to tourists.

“The Nisqually Wildlife Refuge is one of the kickoff points,” said George Sharp, executive director of the visitor and convention bureau.

Other stops along the way include the Main Street Cookie Co. in Rainier, the Western Chehalis Bike Trail and the Mima Mounds, he said.

Sharp estimates that the Thurston Bountiful Byway could bring up to 10,000 additional visitors to the county’s rural areas.

Romero compared the effort to the Fruit Loop in Hood River County, Ore., which features about 30 farms, wineries and family activities near the Columbia River Gorge.

Linda Remmers, owner of A Cottage Farm on Gate Road between Rochester and Littlerock, said she’s looking forward to the signs going up to mark the Thurston Bountiful Byway.

She and her husband, Larry, specialize in garlic, but they also offer wine tasting, fresh produce, antiques and artwork at their farm.

“I think it’s definitely going to introduce people to South Sound,” Remmers said. “And there are a lot of amazing little different farms and artists – all kinds of things down here that really haven’t been discovered.”

If you go

What: A free celebration for the official designation of the Thurston Bountiful Byway.

When: 4-5 p.m. Tuesday.

Where: Room 280 of the Thurston County Courthouse Building One, 2000 Lakeridge Drive. SW, Olympia.

Info: www.facebook.com/ThurstonBountifulByway

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 lpemberton@theolympian.com

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