Little Squalicum Estuary

Project Overview: EN-0052

The Little Squalicum Estuary project will help address the need for additional estuarine habitat in Bellingham Bay. The project will restore 4.85 total acres of coastal habitat including a 2.4-acre estuary, and will remove a fish passage barrier at the mouth of Little Squalicum Creek just two miles east of the Nooksack River Delta in Little Squalicum Park.

This project will restore tidal and sedimentary processes, improve fish passage, and return saltmarsh, mudflat and estuary habitats to an area where historical wetlands have been lost. Over the past 150 years, Bellingham Bay has lost an estimated 282 acres of aquatic land as the result of historical dredging, filling, and shoreline modification activities, drastically reducing rearing habitat available to local salmonid populations. Due to an increasingly urbanized shoreline with competing uses such as marinas, industry, and railways, the WRIA 1 Nearshore and Estuarine Assessment and Restoration Plan identified Little Squalicum as one of the last remaining locations available for estuary habitat expansion in WRIA 1. 

Project elements include removing 50 linear feet of shoreline barrier, installing 1.2 acres of saltmarsh and riparian plantings, and enhancing 1.16 acres of forage fish spawning habitat. As part of the estuary excavation, the project will improve water quality by removing and disposing of approximately 8,000 CY of contaminated material. To facilitate estuary construction, all existing trails will be shifted west to accommodate the estuary footprint, and a new trail network will be installed along with the new pedestrian bridge at the estuary mouth.

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

Funding from:

  • City of Bellingham
  • Washington Department of Ecology Centennial Clean Water Program
  • Washington Department of Ecology One-Time Grant Program
  • Washington State Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account Grant Program
  • Washington State Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant Program
  • US Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water Act Section 319 Program

Status – July 2021

Accomplishments: Funding secured.  

Next Milestones: Update environmental permits. Complete land access agreements.

Project Details

  • Status – Permitting
  • Contract Awarded –
  • Contract Amount –
  • Contractor –

Reference Documents


‚ÄčFreeman 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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