State’s $260M project would restore Nooksack River delta north of Bellingham

The public is asked to comment on a major wetland restoration project proposed for the Nooksack River delta.

The state and federal governments are partnering to undo some of the impacts of human development on the Puget Sound over the past 150 years. At the Nooksack River delta north of Bellingham, levees would be removed, sections of road would be propped onto bridges, and new levees would be added to allow for more natural tidal and river flows. Under the proposal, 1,807 acres of tidal freshwater wetlands would be restored. This is important habitat for threatened salmon species, birds and other animals.

Farm groups are keeping a close eye on the proposal, which could remove “hundreds of acres” of productive farmland, said Debbie VanderVeen, president of the Whatcom County Farm Bureau.

The Farm Bureau is at the “fact finding” stage on the delta project, VanderVeen said, and will issue a statement on its position soon.

The $260 million project is one of 11 around Puget Sound that altogether would restore more than 5,000 acres of shoreline habitat. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife proposed projects that would “reverse human-caused degradation of the Puget Sound shoreline,” according to a Fish and Wildlife statement announcing the public comment period.

For information on how to comment by Nov. 24, go to wdfw.wa.gov/news/oct1014c.