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.

Status

February 2021: The project schedule has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Project Team recently completed its assessment of geomorphic and hydraulic conditions and developed three Draft Design Alternatives. A virtual Community Workshop was held on January 26 to share the design alternatives (workshop documents available below). For additional status information, please read the Project and Listserv Updates: 

Project Benefits

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

Background 

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 SF Nooksack River upstream and downstream of Acme. 

Although initially scoped to occur within the Fish Camp (Ts’éq) Reach from river mile (RM) 9.1 to 9.6, the Fish Camp Project Area was expanded downstream during concept development to RM 7.3 near the BNSF railway bridge. This was done to more broadly incorporate community input and conceptual elements with the potential to alleviate flood risk to the Acme community, to include concept zones and elements in areas where landowner willingness opportunities exist, and to address habitat deficiencies in the south fork downstream of Acme.

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 area 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. More information on the Design Alternatives Development can be found here

Community Workshops  

Workshop #2 January 26, 2021

The purpose of the second community workshop is 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 #1 June 27, 2019

Engineering Design 

Herrera Environmental Consultants

Funding 

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.

Contact 

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
lfratus@nooksack-nsn.gov
(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
pharris@co.whatcom.wa.us
(360) 778-6285

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

Veda Environmental
Hello@VedaEnv.com                                                                                                                                                                                       (360) 812-0321                                                                                                                                                                                      

Additional Information