This project was a result of collaboration between the City of Bellingham, Nooksack Indian Tribe, Lummi Nation, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and American Rivers, with funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the City of Bellingham, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Resources Legacy Fund through their Open Rivers Fund, the Puget Sound Partnership, and the Recreation Conservation Office. Additional project partners include Long Live the Kings and American Whitewater.
In 2017, the City and American Rivers, with the support of private funders, began working with the original project partners – the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the Lummi Nation, and the Nooksack Indian Tribe – to reinitiate a project to achieve fish passage at the Middle Fork diversion dam site. The project involved dam removal to restore habitat connectivity, providing upstream fish passage to 16 miles of pristine habitat for Puget Sound Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout; move the point of diversion just upstream of the existing location to eliminate the need for the dam and to maintain the City’s water supply; construct a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and WDFW compliant fish screen to protect downstream emigrating juvenile fish; provide cultural benefits; and restore the Middle Fork Nooksack to a free-flowing river.
Six PAC or DRT meetings have been held since December 2017:
- December 7, 2017: a PAC meeting was held to provide information on new project funding and the project schedule, as well as to gain clarity on the desired project outcomes of each partner entity.
- January 25, 2018: a PAC meeting was held to collaborate on approaches to streamline permitting and secure funding.
- February 12, 2018: PAC and DRT members attended an Alternative Selection Workshop to review alternatives proposed and discuss the basis of design for a proposed preferred alternative.
- August 1, 2018: DRT members attended a 30% design review meeting, where early draft preliminary design plans and reports were reviewed and discussed. Input and feedback was documented and incorporated into 60% design plans.
- October 24, 2018: DRT members attended a 60% design review meeting, where preliminary design plans and reports were reviewed and discussed. Input and feedback was documented and incorporated into 90% design plans.
- January 12, 2019: DRT members attended a 90% design review meeting, where final feedback was received and used in finalizing design.
The project secured nearly $17 million for design and construction. Project funding sources were diverse and ranged from private foundations to local, state, and federal government agencies. Project funders consisted of the State of Washington (52%), the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation (16%), the City of Bellingham (11%), NOAA (>2%), the Resources Legacy Fund (1%), and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (<1%). It is anticipated the remaining 17% of funding needed to complete the project will be acquired from Pacific Salmon Treaty funds administered by NOAA in early 2020, thereby increasing the federal support for the project to 20%. The private foundations (PAFF, RLF), City, and USFWS provided the initial funding needed for project management services, planning, and the design phase. This seed funding was critical for leveraging the remaining funds needed for project implementation.
- American Rivers
- Lummi Nation
- Nooksack Indian Tribe
- Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Resources Legacy Fund
- Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) Fund Program
- NOAA Fisheries
- Washington Fish and Wildlife Service
Steve Day, P.E.
City of Bellingham Public Works
River Restoration Project Manager
Public Works Contacts