South Fork Nooksack River Fish Camp (Ts'eq) Reach Integrated Design Project

Fish Camp Vicinity map 500pxl

The South Fork Nooksack (Nuxw7íyem) River Fish Camp (Ts’éq) Reach Integrated Design Project is a collaboration of the Nooksack Tribe and Whatcom County River and Flood to develop broadly-supported solutions to address community needs.


December, 2020 Update: The project schedule has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the Project Team has completed its assessment of geomorphic and hydraulic conditions and has now developed three Draft Design Alternatives. Learn more in the Project Description.

Project Benefits

  • Reduce flood risk within the Acme area
  • Improve habitat conditions to support recovery of Chinook salmon and other salmon species


The overall goal for this project is to develop an integrated habitat restoration and flood risk reduction project in in the lower South Fork (SF) Nooksack (Nuxw7íyem) River. The project will focus on reducing flooding in the Acme Community and improving Chinook habitat in the reach of the SF Nooksack River known as Fish Camp (Ts’éq) Reach, upstream of Acme (approximately river miles 9.0-9.6).

The major problems this project will address include negative impacts from flooding in the Lower South Fork Valley (Acme) and degraded habitat that strongly limits productivity of wild Nooksack spring Chinook salmon.

  • Flood damage in the Acme area has resulted in approximately $80,000 in pay outs by the National Flood Insurance Program. Additionally, the results of a recent Climate Impacts Risk Assessment show that there will likely be more frequent and intense floods in the future.
  • From 1999 through 2017, the natural-origin (wild) South Fork Nooksack River early (spring) Chinook stocks have averaged a small fraction (<1%) of their estimated historic abundance (13,000), amounting to an average of just 76 wild adults returning each year. Habitat degradation is considered the leading cause for the decline of local salmonid populations. Recovering Nooksack Chinook salmon populations is essential to the broader Puget Sound salmon recovery effort. Additionally, the wild Nooksack spring Chinook salmon run holds great cultural and subsistence importance to both the Nooksack Tribe and the Lummi Nation.

Project Description

The project reach presents a unique opportunity to develop integrated designs for flood risk reduction and salmon habitat restoration in the Lower South Fork Valley. Following in-depth conversations with stakeholders, the project team will work together with the community to develop multiple design possibilities (design alternatives) that will both reduce flood risk and improve habitat conditions for Chinook and other salmon. The selected alternative will be developed into a preliminary design informed by:

  • an understanding of current flood risk to the area
  • existing channel and flooding conditions
  • potential flood-reduction and habitat responses 

The final preliminary design may include floodplain reconnection to reduce risk in flood hazard areas, measures to increase stability and reduce erosion risk, and removal, setback or replacement (with wood) of bank armoring and placement of engineered log jams to improve Chinook habitat and promote recovery.

Design Alternatives

The draft design alternatives evolved from concept zones and ideas, which were developed with input from stakeholders during the first community workshop. You can view the Design Zones and Concepts document here. Using the Concept Zones and Ideas as a foundation, the Project Team went through an extensive process of modeling individual design elements in each zone, which were combined into three design options. The team modeled these three design options to analyze the river’s response to the combined effects of a variety of design elements.

The design team used the modelling results from the three options to form Draft Design Alternatives that show the greatest combined benefits for flood reduction, erosion mitigation, and habitat. All three alternatives will be finalized and modeled by the end of December. The next step will be to solicit feedback from stakeholders at a community workshop in late January, 2021. The process for forming the Design Alternatives and a framework for the Draft Design Alternatives are summarized below.

Formation of the Design Alternatives


Alternatives Framework

Design Element ObjectiveAlternative 1Alternative 2
Alternative 3
Flooding Hazardsomemanyall
Habitat Needssomemanyall
Erosion Elementssomeallall
Acme Bern Heightno berm10-year flood100-year flood

Community Workshops  

Workshop #1 June 27, 2019

Workshop #2 January 2021

 A second community workshop will be scheduled during the last week of January to share the three Draft design Alternatives along with the hydraulic modeling results for each, and to review the Alternatives Evaluation Criteria which will be used to select a preferred alternative. Workshop participants will have an opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback, and make suggestions to the project team. A final alternative will not be selected without this input. 

The workshop will be held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also be recorded to ensure those who are unable to attend can view the presentation and provide feedback after the workshop.  

Engineering Design 

Herrera Environmental Consultants


The Nooksack Tribe was awarded a Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office-Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB) grant to develop a Preliminary Design for this project.


Please contact either of the project co-leads with questions.

Lindsie Fratus-Thomas, Watershed Restoration Coordinator
Nooksack Indian Tribe
Natural Resources Department
P.O. Box 157
Deming, WA 98244
(360) 592-5140 Ext 3135

Paula Harris, P.E., River and Flood Manager
Whatcom County Public Works River and Flood Division
322 N. Commercial Street, Suite 120
Bellingham, WA 98225
(360) 778-6285

For information regarding engagement opportunities, to schedule a phone call, or to be added to the Listserv, contact:

Veda Environmental                                                                                                                                                                                       (360) 812-0321                                                                                                                                                                                      

Additional Information