Celebrate the collective power of people making a difference in their own backyard on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Squalicum Creek Park with Bellingham Parks, Bellingham Public Works Natural Resources, and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) for Make a Difference Day and Arbor Day.
Looking around Squalicum Creek Park, most of us would never guess the site’s industrial history as an airport, a gravel pit, and a cement plant. In 2002, the City of Bellingham purchased the property for a park. Created through a public process, the Park’s Master Plan now guides the City’s development of the site, and reflects our community’s values, with an active recreational core surrounded by forest and salmon habitat.
“Community stewards—including scouts, schools, and the general public—have supported habitat restoration in the park through volunteer work parties focused in both the forest hillside habitat and the daylighted Willow Spring stream channel,” says Rae Edwards, Parks Department Volunteer Coordinator. “Over the past dozen years, more than 2,000 volunteers have donated more than 6,000 hours to create and improve vital forest and riparian habitat in Squalicum Creek Park.”
At the work party, volunteers will help remove invasive plants and plant native trees and shrubs to improve the forest and riparian habitat upstream of the Willow Spring restoration project. Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville will be on site to share the Arbor Day proclamation with participants at 9 a.m. “At past Make a Difference Day work parties, the City and NSEA have mobilized more than 250 volunteers to help improve local parks and habitat restoration sites,” notes NSEA Program Director, Annitra Peck.
Join us to improve the park and help ensure the longevity of this vital urban habitat in honor of both Make a Difference Day, the largest national day of service of the year, and Arbor Day, a day to celebrate the many benefits of trees.
What: Make a Difference Day and Arbor Day community work party
When: Saturday, Oct. 22 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon
Where: Squalicum Creek Park (1001 Squalicum Way)
Who: YOU, your friends and family, and other community members (all ages welcome)
Hosted by: Bellingham Parks, Bellingham Public Works Natural Resources, and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association
Work party contact: Rae Edwards, Parks Volunteer Coordinator (360) 778-7105 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Willow Spring restoration project contact: Analiese Burns, Habitat and Restoration Manager, Bellingham Public Works Natural Resources (360) 778-7968 or email@example.com
Details: RSVP is not required for this all-ages event. Unaccompanied youth under the age of 18 must provide a *Youth Liability Release Form signed by their legal guardian to participate.
*The Youth Liability Release Form can be found at www.cob.org by searching “youth liability form.”
For years, Willow Spring flowed in a pipe underground. In 2010, Bellingham Public Works daylighted the spring to create a stream channel with high quality fish and wildlife habitat. Now flowing above ground, this tributary of Squalicum Creek provides fresh, cold water to the salmon in Squalicum Creek, and establishes diverse habitat via meandering bends, large woody debris, pools, riffles, and native plants. Past use of the area resulted in poor water quality for the Squalicum Creek watershed as well as an overall decline in wildlife habitat. The project created over 1,000 lineal feet of new stream habitat, nearly a third of an acre of new wetlands for stormwater retention and water quality improvement, and nearly 1.5 acres of streamside forest.
Initial and on-going restoration efforts in the park are led by Bellingham Public Works and Parks Departments and City-sponsored Washington Conservation Corps crews, with support from NSEA, Transition Whatcom, REI, Tree Keepers, and Wild Whatcom’s Girl Explorers.
Willow Spring, a tributary of Squalicum Creek, before (left) and after (right) being daylighted in 2010-2012 to create habitat and water quality improvements.