Bellingham residents are invited to join the more than one billion people worldwide who celebrate Earth Day each year by participating in the City of Bellingham's annual work party on Saturday, April 20 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Fairhaven Park. Volunteers will remove invasive plants and apply mulch to improve habitat and water quality in Padden Creek. No RSVP or experience is required for this free, family-friendly event that is open to the public. Tools, gloves, instructions and refreshments including free pizza will be provided. Volunteers need only bring weather-appropriate clothing, closed-toe shoes and a water bottle.
What: Earth Day Community Work Party
When: Saturday, April 20 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: Fairhaven Park, 107 Chuckanut Drive North. Sign in at the tents near the playground.
Travel by bus or bike: Several Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) bus routes stop near Fairhaven Park. The park is also accessible by bike. Find your bus route using WTA's online trip planner or your bike route by visiting www.cob.org/bike.
Travel by car: Parking is available in the three parking lots within Fairhaven Park.
Who: You, your friends and family, and other community members (all ages welcome!)
You need: Weather-appropriate clothing, closed-toe shoes and a water bottle.
We provide: Tools, gloves, instructions, and pizza donated by Papa John's. A City wetland biologist will also provide an optional educational tour of Padden Creek.
Hosted by: City of Bellingham Parks Volunteer Program and Public Works Natural Resources.
For more information: Contact the Parks Volunteer Program at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-778-7105.
Details: RSVP is not required for this free event. Unaccompanied youth under the age of 18 must provide a Bellingham Parks Youth Liability Form signed by their legal guardian, which can be found at www.cob.org/workparties.
Padden Creek flows northwest from Lake Padden approximately 2.7 miles before entering Bellingham Bay. The stream travels through Happy Valley, which was once a large wetland and forested area that has been drained and altered over time for development. This lower portion of the watershed is now highly urbanized, which has contributed to Padden Creek being listed on the Washington State list of impaired waters due to high temperatures and low dissolved oxygen.
The fish that live in Padden Creek – including chum, coho, Chinook and kokanee salmon in addition to steelhead and sea-run cutthroat trout – require cold water and dissolved oxygen to survive. In summer and early fall, the temperatures of the water and the levels of dissolved oxygen in Padden Creek can become unhealthy for some of the fish living in it. Increasing native streamside vegetation is an important way to reduce temperatures and increase dissolved oxygen in the stream. Native plants provide critical shade for the stream, which helps keep the water cool so that it can retain more dissolved oxygen. Additional benefits of native plants include preventing streambank erosion and filtering pollutants.
The City's Public Works Natural Resources Division and Parks Department have been working for many years in Fairhaven Park to restore native vegetation along Padden Creek. One example is the Padden Creek Daylighting project, a project that was completed by the Public Works Natural Resources Division in 2015 to improve water quality, restore streamside vegetation and improve fish passage. Ongoing restoration work at Padden Creek includes work parties and school programs organized by the Parks Volunteer Program. Volunteers at the 2019 Earth Day work party will contribute to this restoration work by removing invasive plants, which compete directly with native plants for moisture, sunlight, nutrients and space. Other ways that the community can contribute to efforts to protect and restore local streamside habitat include to:
- Plant native plants at home and remove invasive plants such as holly, ivy and butterfly bush;
- Stay on designated trails when visiting parks;
- Pick up, bag and dispose of pet waste in the garbage at home and on walks;
- Volunteer at other community work parties hosted by the City.