Middle Fork Nooksack River Fish Passage Project

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Middle Fork Nooksack River Fish Passage project was completed in 2022, including the fish passage and dam removal portion of the project which was completed in 2020. This project restores access to approximately 16 miles of pristine spawning and rearing habitat in the upper Middle Fork for three Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed Puget Sound fish species: spring Chinook salmon, Steelhead and Bull Trout. Project elements and related benefits included​ moving the point of diversion just upstream of the existing location to eliminate the need for the dam; dam removal and channel restoration to restore habitat connectivity; and installation of fully compliant fish screens for fish protection.

Flowing river with concrete dam remnants on either side of the river.
June 15, 2022: The restored river channel flows through the site of the dam removal. Ongoing monitoring efforts will continue until 2030 to confirm this reach remains passable for fish.

This project was a collaborative effort between the City of Bellingham, American Rivers, Nooksack Indian Tribe, Lummi Nation, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, with funding and collaboration from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the City of Bellingham, the Resources Legacy Fund, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Puget Sound Partnership, and the Recreation Conservation Office. Additional project partners include Long Live the Kings and American Whitewater. Partners collaborated and contributed in a myriad of ways including providing local fisheries, cultural resource, and physical science expertise; project management; grant management; fundraising; direct funding; outreach; planning phase contributions in permitting and design; and construction phase support in oversight and field efforts.


Lake Whatcom Reservoir
Water Utility
WRIA 1 Website
Middle Fork Project Fact Sheet (PDF)


​Steve​ Day, P.E.
Project Engineer
City of Bellingham Public Works
(360) 778-7944
April McEwen
River Restoration Project Manager
American Rivers

For media inquiries, contact

Riley Grant
Environmental Education Coordinator
(360) 778-7732

Public Works Contacts