By Ian Ferguson
Volunteers are needed for the annual Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) Earth Day work party at Terrell Creek in Birch Bay on Saturday, April 18.
Volunteers will plant trees native to northwest Washington along the banks of Terrell Creek. They will also remove invasive plants and spread mulch. Free T-shirts and a free barbeque lunch sweeten the deal. The goal is to improve the habitat for
Tracy Pennell is a monitoring coordinator for NSEA. She explained how planting trees and removing invasive plants near streams helps spawning salmon.
“Restoring the riparian habitat helps keep stream water clean and cold,” Pennell said. “Trees stabilize banks, shade the water, prevent erosion, add complexity to the stream when they fall down and shade out invasive plants.”
Invasive plants such as reed canary grass can grow into a stream and reduce water velocity, turning it into a murky, warm wetland. Salmon prefer to spawn in fast-flowing streams and rivers, Pennell said.
Terrell Creek flows roughly 5 miles from Lake Terrell to Birch Bay and passes through residential and agricultural lands along the way. The stream once supported viable runs of chum and Coho salmon, as well as coastal cutthroat and steelhead. Those populations have decreased in recent decades as water quality has declined.
For years, NSEA and other groups have worked to make Terrell Creek a healthier place for salmon. They replaced the original Lake Terrell Dam, built in the 1950s, with a modern design that allows for better water flow. They added gravel to the streambed below the dam and graded the section to an ideal 1 percent slope. They also added timber and rock obstacles to create pools, and replaced an old culvert on a tributary stream with a
Volunteers have planted the riparian habitat with native trees and shrubs. Finally, remote site incubators, barrels that house chum eggs as they mature into juvenile salmon smolts, were placed just downstream of the dam.
NSEA workers have seen some signs of success, with salmon spawning in Terrell Creek, but NSEA organizers say the process of habitat restoration in the area is ongoing. Volunteers are needed to continue the work.
The Earth Day work party is one of NSEA’s biggest volunteer days of the year.
“We do big work parties for Earth Day every year,” Pennell said. “We usually see around 200 people volunteering for our Earth Day events.”
Bagels, pastries, coffee and water will be available during the work party. The barbeque lunch begins at noon. Tools and instruction will be provided.
The work party is Saturday, April 18 from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers should meet at 7039 Jackson Road in Birch Bay, the former location of the Birch Bay Bible Community Church. No registration is required.