Open house for Padden Creek estuary projects is Dec. 11

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDDecember 7, 2013 

BELLINGHAM - Work will start late next year on two projects to restore Padden Creek estuary, which also is referred to as Padden lagoon.

They will be paid for with two separate grants from the Washington state Department of Ecology.

People can learn about both projects during an open house Wednesday, Dec. 11, at Fairhaven Library.

An estuary is where salt water and fresh water mix. Located off Harris Avenue near the ferry terminal, Padden Creek estuary provides important habitat for wildlife and fish, including adult and juvenile salmon that use them as migration corridors, according to city of Bellingham officials.

The estuary has been altered a great deal over time because of urban and industrial development. The goal is to improve its health.

"We're not increasing the acreage of the estuary. We're improving the habitat value," said Renee LaCroix, ecology and restoration manager for the city of Bellingham.

It's a small step in trying to improve the estuary's health over time, she explained.

City employees and the design consultants - ESA and Coastal Geologic Services - will present some history and the draft designs during the open house.

Small estuaries, including the Padden Creek estuary, have become increasingly important as the amount of intertidal habitat in Bellingham Bay has shrunk, city officials said, noting that about 282 acres of aquatic land have been lost in the inner part of the bay.

Set to start in late 2014, one project will include creating new salt marsh habitat on the left side, or west bank, when facing the lagoon. Crews also will put in salt marsh plantings, stabilize slopes along the estuary's boundary and remove creosote pilings and other debris.

That will cost about $400,000.

On the east side, a $1.1 million project will clean up stormwater that now flows untreated out of a 30-inch diameter pipe and directly into Padden Creek. Project construction will begin in late 2014 or early 2015.

IF YOU GO

What: Public open house for the project to restore the Padden Creek estuary.

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11.

Where: Fireplace Room at Fairhaven Library, 1112 12th St.

Details: Go online to cob.org and type "Padden Creek estuary" into the search window.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com.

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