The City of Bellingham's Willow Spring habitat restoration project to improve fish access and habitat conditions in Squalicum Creek is now complete. The final phase of the project included replacing a 12-inch culvert and artificial pond with a new open channel that connects the existing Willow Spring channel with Squalicum Creek. This final phase completes the restoration envisioned as part of the original 2010 project.
In 2010, the City constructed the Willow Spring channel as part of Squalicum Creek Park. The new channel created approximately 1,000 lineal feet of off-channel salmon rearing habitat and refuge, as well as nearly one-third of an acre of new wetlands and 1.5 acres of streamside forest.
The City was unable to finish the downstream section of the project connecting the channel with Squalicum Creek because the legal framework with the landowner, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad company, was not in place. The City secured BNSF approval in September 2018, thus allowing construction of the final connection. Funding to complete the final phase was provided by the City of Bellingham and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad company.
Now that Willow Spring and Squalicum Creek are connected by an open channel, fish have unhindered access to Willow Spring's diverse habitat including meandering bends, large woody debris, pools, riffles and native plants.
Citizens can view the Willow Spring habitat restoration site from the trail and footbridge west of the playground in Squalicum Creek Park. They can also help protect this restoration site and others. Here's how: by planting native trees and shrubs at volunteer events and in their yard; keeping people and pets out of streams; staying on designated trails to protect sensitive plants; picking up and disposing of pet waste in the garbage; and reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides and herbicides.
To learn more about the City of Bellingham's habitat restoration program, visit www.cob.org/habitat.