Nearly 150 people attend work party at Terrell Creek

Published on Thu, Nov 13, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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Nearly 150 people attend work party at Terrell Creek

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

For those driving up Jackson Road in Birch Bay, pull over and take a look at Terrell Creek. (And even if you�re not driving past there, then start driving by now.) What was once an overgrown mess of weeds, is now a creek upon its way to a full restoration.

Almost 150 people joined the latest work efforts involving the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA), planting over 800 trees and shrubs, including spruce, cedar, willow and cottonwood. The Terrell Creek Stream Stewards, Chums of Terrell Creek and BP Refinery (who own that portion of the creek) were also involved in the efforts.

The creek had been infested with reed canarygrass, an invasive weed, that slows water flow, raises water temperature and lowers oxygen levels during critical spawning periods. It also acts as a physical barrier, choking the creek�s channel. Because of this, salmon can�t get past Jackson Road to spawn. During the 1970s, the creek supported good runs of coho and chum salmon.

The restoration project started rolling several months ago as NSEA began planning and the local group Chums of Terrell Creek started informing the community of the creek�s status and the need for funding.

�Terrell Creek is ours and it is up to us to tend to it and return it to a state that will enhance the lives of the wildlife and our own,� co-founder Eliana Steele-Friedlob said. �From sport fishermen to the bald eagles, we all have a stake in its health and there is very little downside.�

The Chums had hoped to raise $5,000 for the project, but were able to raise about $4,000. Despite not raising as much as they�d like, Steele-Friedlob was excited by the number of people who turned out for the work party.

�I was so proud of our community and that people cared that much. I was also terribly impressed that people brought their children to learn and participate,� she said. �The kids are the future for our creek and this area, so seeing their parents take time out from busy schedules was awesome to me.�

Rachel Deryckx, NSEA�s program coordinator, said the Terrell Creek restoration project was one of the largest, when considering the amount of volunteers and support in the area. �There are a lot of things to consider with a project, but as for volunteers, they have played a major role in this project and the crew has worked really hard.�

Among the volunteers planting trees, were Blaine Honor Society students, Future Farmers of America, and employees of the BP Refinery.

The next step in the creek restoration efforts is continued planting. �The main thing is the need for planting throughout the winter,� Deryckx said. �We�ll need a total of 4,000 to 5,000 plants. That will continue now through April.�

Dates for volunteer work parties will be announced at a later date. �Some will be through volunteer work parties, but there are a couple of tricky places on the downstream side of the bridge on Jackson Road that are very boggy and will need expert work crews to plant that area.�

In addition to planting, Steele-Friedlob and others are working on smaller projects as well. �We are trying to work out a possible composting solution to offer people living along the creek with alternatives to dumping their clippings in the creek,� she said. �This winter, we the Terrell Creek Stream Stewards, are also doing a fish count from November through January to assess the baseline numbers of fish spawning, if any, in the creek.�

Those counts will provide information for the groups to use when evaluating the need for placing egg boxes next winter.

For more information about the project, contact Deryckx at 715-0283 or email info@n-sea.org.

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