The largest thermal-loading (heat) issues in
Squalicum Creek are
caused by Sunset Pond and Bug Lake. These two water bodies are man-made
lakes created during the construction of I-5 for fill material. Because the
ponds are both shallow and wide, they absorb large amounts of solar heat,
causing peaks in water temperature that are not healthy for salmon.
The Squalicum Creek Re-route project (both phases) involves re-routing large sections of Squalicum Creek around Bug Lake and Sunset Pond into a new channel, reactivating remnant channels and reconnecting the stream with its floodplain. The project also eliminates an existing fish passage blockage under I-5, thus opening up over 22 miles of salmon habitat upstream of I-5. The re-route will dramatically decrease water temperatures, and improve dissolved oxygen levels, biotic integrity, and beneficial habitat in Squalicum Creek by routing water flow away from Bug Lake and Sunset Pond.
As part of this habitat restoration effort, Bellingham Public Works is hosting a community work party on Make a Difference Day, October 24th from 9 to noon with the Bellingham Parks Department and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association. At the work party, volunteers can work alongside project staff and partners to help protect this vital ecosystem by planting native trees and shrubs along the newly excavated stream channel. To volunteer, meet in the Sunset Square parking lot near Kmart just off of James St. (no need to sign-up in advance). Look for the tent and signs near James St. and catch an NSEA shuttle to the restoration site.
The project will be done in two different sections that are funded separately (Phase 1 & 2). Phase 1 runs from the corner of Birchwood Avenue and Squalicum Parkway to I-5 and is funded by a $1.7 million grant and loan package from the Department of Ecology. The City received an additional $2.1 million grant and loan package from the Department of Ecology for Phase 2 of the Squalicum Creek Re-route, which runs from James St. eastward to Irongate. Phases 1 and 2 will be constructed concurrently in July of 2015. The City contracted with Interfluve Inc. for the design and permitting of both phases. The Department of Transportation has installed a culvert under I-5 to accommodate the re-route.
Reactivating remnant channels and reconnecting the stream with its floodplain will make self-sustaining improvements to habitat conditions of Squalicum Creek. The project phases are being designed with a thorough understanding and consideration of the hydrology, climate patterns, geology, and ecology of the watershed.
The re-route project is being closely coordinated with other projects in the area under the collaboration "Squalicum Corridor Projects" which includes the James St. Bridge improvements, Bay to Baker trail, Woodstock/James streets intersection improvements, and the Orchard St. Extension. A presentation on all Squalicum Corridor Projects was given at an open house on May 6, 2014. Project information can also be found on the Squalicum Creek Re-route Phases 1 & 2 capital project page.
Project Manager: Renee LaCroix, Ecology and Restoration Manager, Public Works Department, Natural Resources. (360)778-7966, firstname.lastname@example.org