The highest-priority basins for salmon habitat restoration benefitting Chinook are the Nooksack River Forks. The Nooksack North Fork, Middle Fork, and South Fork are where most spawning takes place and most juvenile fish rear until they are ready to transition to salt water.
The 10-year actions in Appendix B of the WRIA 1 Salmonid Recovery Plan are WRIA-wide and benefit all salmonids. Implementation for Chinook recovery focuses on projects that will have the highest and most immediate benefit to the North Fork/Middle Fork and South Fork early Chinook populations that are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The priority areas for these actions are the Nooksack River Forks.
Chinook Captive Brood Program
In 2009, a mere 45 South Fork chinook returned to the Nooksack River to spawn. With the population at near-extinction levels the fishery co-managers, which are the Nooksack Tribe, Lummi Nation, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, took the drastic step of capturing juvenile salmon, doing genetic testing on each one, and raising the true South Fork Chinook to adulthood.
The South Fork Cavanaugh Island habitat restoration project is upstream of Dye’s Canyon, between River Mile 16.6 to 17.0. The project involves constructing 6 engineered log jams and 10 habitat log structures. Endangered early spring Chinook and bull trout will benefit from this project that is designed to enhance chinook habitat by maximizing natural habitat-forming processes inherent in this reach of the river.
The Wildcat reach of the North Fork ranked highest among North Fork reaches in terms of restoration benefit. This project is phase 3 of a larger projected designed to 1) increase the low-flow connectivity and habitat diversity of Wildcat side channels and other floodplain habitats; and 2) increase channel stability and protect and encourage growth of maturing forested islands in the main channel.
Take a look at our upcoming events and grant opportunities.