Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  How much benefit does this project provide to fish? 

A:  The project opens up approximately 16 miles of habitat to Chinook salmon, Steelhead and Bull Trout species. The North Fork and Middle Fork Nooksack River population of spring Chinook is the most limited in Puget Sound. Restoration of this population is critical for species recovery. The project was determined to be the #1 recovery action for the species in the WRIA 1 Salmon Recovery Plan. 

Q:  It seems like a significant amount of work has gone into previous studies. Did the previous work help?

A:  ​The previous studies and efforts helped inform feasibility, selection of the preferred design alternative, and project design. The designs produced during previous work were utilized to develop the feasibility of the options considered in the current project. The design team included a few members with previous experience at the project site, further benefitting from their project knowledge.

Q:  I thought we got our water from Lake Whatcom. Why were we in the Middle Fork Nooksack River?

A:  Lake Whatcom is the primary source of drinking water for the City. The Middle Fork diversion is periodically used to augment the water available from the Lake Whatcom watershed. The ability to divert water from the Middle Fork supports our coastal community by providing the City with a reliable water supply to meet the water demands of the City and portions of the County.

Q:  What did this p​roject entail?

A:  The goal of the project was to provide fish passage while maintaining the City’s ability to divert water from the Middle Fork.

Q:  Were the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Indian Tribe  involved, or affected?

A:  Lummi Nation, the Nooksack Indian Tribe and the Department of Fish and Wildlife are Fishery Co-Managers for WRIA 1. All three entities are project partners and together with the City, signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2002, pledging to collaborate to implement the project. Tribal representatives were on the project Partner Advisory Committee and Design Review Team. The tribes were also consulted in the cultural resources review process. The City worked with the Nooksack Indian Tribe to install a marker at the site, conveying the cultural significance of the Middle Fork Nooksack River valley, known to the Nooksack people Nuxwt’iqw’em

Q:  What was the implementation timeline?

A:  The project began construction in early 2020, with fish passage provided in 2020. The project was completed in 2022.

Q: Was there any documentation of project construction?

A:  Videos and photos of the project construction can be found on our Construction Photos and Videos page. They help tell the project story and contain video footage of the site and dam removal. Relevant project documents and media coverage can be found on our Project Documents and Media page.

Q: Where can I find a project fact sheet? 

A:  Here is a project fact sh​eet​ with more information. 


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