Project Overview: EN052
The Little Squalicum Estuary project will help improve water quality and restore essential coastal habitat that has been lost to development. 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. The Nooksack provides critical habitat for all five Pacific salmon species. The estuary is expected to be used by juvenile (young) salmon originating from the lower Nooksack basin (Bellingham Bay, Squalicum Creek, and the Nooksack River). The project includes excavating the estuary, re-aligning the existing creek and trail, installing native plants, and installing a new pedestrian bridge and culvert.
January 2023 Project Update – Construction Delay
Project construction has been delayed while a modification to the channel design is confirmed with Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway. Construction will resume as permits and weather allow. We expect heavy construction to be complete and full public access to the park to be restored by the end of September 2023. Restoration at the estuary site will continue through early 2024. We will share updates on our project webpage as available. Thank you for your understanding. This project would not be possible without the support of our community, funders, and landowners.
Little Squalicum Park Access
The project site remains closed, as there are on-site hazards. Trails in the project vicinity remain temporarily inaccessible, though there is currently limited beach access from West Illinois Street. The park will remain open on the land side of Marine Drive, with access from Bellingham Technical College and West Illinois. Some areas will remain open when practical. Signs are posted in the park to indicate areas that are inaccessible.
January 2023 Volunteer Work Party at Little Squalicum Estuary
Thank you to the 232 community volunteers who joined the City, Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA), and many other partners for our Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service work party at the Little Squalicum Estuary. Together, we planted approximately 4,500 native plants in the estuary site. This work will help ensure the success of the future estuary.
To learn about volunteer opportunities, tours, and restoration projects, please sign up for the Habitat News emails.
Find answers to additional questions in the Project FAQ.
- Status – Construction
- Contract Awarded – May 9, 2022
- Contract Amount – $3,474,179.48
- Contractor – Glacier Environmental Services
- Little Squalicum Estuary Presentation, Oct. 2022 (PDF)
- Little Squalicum Estuary Project FAQ (PDF)
- Little Squalicum Estuary Slides from May 2022 Open House (PDF)
- Little Squalicum Estuary Display Board from May 2022 Open House (PDF)
- Little Squalicum Estuary Preliminary Bid Plans, 2021 (PDF)
- Little Squalicum Park Master Plan 2010 (PDF)
- Nearshore Juvenile Chinook Study
- Little Squalicum Estuary Habitat Page
- The Pier at Little Squalicum Park
Sign up for our Habitat News email list to receive updates about this project and other City restoration projects in Bellingham, as well as volunteer opportunities.
Funding for Little Squalicum Estuary Project:
- City of Bellingham
- Greenways Levy
- 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
- Port of Bellingham
- Whatcom County
- Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA)
A special thanks to Lehigh Northwest Cement Company, Port of Bellingham, Whatcom County, and BNSF for their coordination on this project.