The Red Tail Reach habitat restoration project is located in Whatcom Creek just upstream from I-5. The City constructed this 5.7-acre project in 2008. Construction involved excavating over 30,000 cubic yards of fill along 1,550 lineal feet to create much-needed fish and wildlife habitat features within Whatcom Creek. These features include oxbows, side channels, floodplain area, wetlands and uplands. The design approach for Red Tail Reach is ecosystem-based meant to mimic two overlapping "historic" channel alignments to create the appearance and habitat function of remnant channels that had been cut off by the existing channel. This creates extensive off-channel rearing habitat, which is used primarily by juvenile Coho salmon. The 3-acre created floodplain riparian wetland habitat is inundated during frequent floods. Multiple large woody debris structures are incorporated into the creek to create scour pools primarily for Chinook and steelhead.
This project was implemented to mitigate damages following the
Olympic Pipeline Explosion along Whatcom Creek in 1999. During this event, the fishery and aquatic resources of Whatcom Creek were severely impacted. The goals for rehabilitation and enhancement center on mitigating damages by creating and improving salmonid habitat associated with Whatcom Creek.
Red Tail Reach Stream Design (click image to view full version)