Little Squalicum Estuary

Project Overview: EN-0033

The Little Squalicum Estuary project will improve water quality and establish a 2.4​-acre intertidal estuary in the lower part of Little Squalicum Creek Park where Little Squalicum Creek flows into Bellingham Bay. The project will include re-alignment of the existing creek, native planting installation, alignment of existing trails, beach nourishment and the installation of a new pedestrian bridge and culvert. 

The purpose of the project is to improve water quality and restore lost habitat along the shores of Bellingham Bay. Over the past 150 years, Bellingham Bay has lost approximately 282 acres of aquatic land, majority estuarine habitat.  Estuary and nearshore habitat is used by Pacific Salmon in multiple phases of life and is vital to their recovery. 

The new estuary will return tidal and sedimentary processes, restore wetlands and enhance native vegetation communities. In addition, the project provides a rare opportunity to increase rearing and foraging habitat for juvenile salmon in an area consistently used by salmon (Nearshore Juvenile Chinook Study, Bea​mer 2015). The estuary will benefit several species including threatened Chinook, which are known to concentrate in Bellingham’s pocket estuary habitats (Beamer 2015). 

The project gained strong public support during the rigorous Little Squalicum Park master planning process (2009). The Bellingham Bay Action Team (BBAT) ranked this project as the #1 habitat project for future funding. The project design was done in coordination with BNSF, the Port of Bellingham, Whatcom County, (the underlying landowner), and the City of Bellingham Parks Department (the land manager). In addition, the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, the Port of Bellingham, and the Whatcom County Marine Resources Committee have provided letters of support. 

The project presented challenges resulting from multiple site owners, historic land disturbance and little funding. Through consistent coordination and through site analyses, the City was able to overcome these challenges and design a project that provides lasting benefits. 

To find out more about this habitat restoration project, visit the Little Squalicum Estuary Page.

Funding from Washington Department of Ecology-Centennial Clean Water Funds, Washington Department of Ecology-Toxics Cleanup Program, City of Bellingham.

Status – January 2019

Accomplishments:  Complete permitting process.  

Next Milestones:  Secure additional funding.  Bid and construct project.  

Project Details

  • Status- Design
  • Contract Awarded-
  • Contract Amount-
  • Contractor-

Reference Documents

Little Squalicum Park Master Plan 2010

Nearshore Juve​nile Chinook Study


​Freeman Anthony, P.E.,
Project Engineer
Phone:  (360) 778-7942
Analiese Burns, Habitat and Restoration Manager
Phone:  (360) 778-7968
Public Works Contacts

Participating Departments

Affected Neighborhoods

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