Cemetery Creek / Salmon Park Habitat Restoration

The Cemetery Creek and Salmon Park habitat restoration projects are located at the confluence of Cemetery Creek and Whatcom Creek. The Salmon Park project covers over 100 meters of the Whatcom Creek stream bank to the north, while Cemetery Creek encompasses approximately 75 meters along the south bank of Whatcom Creek and over 400 meters along the east and west forks of Cemetery Creek.

These projects were 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.

Habitat objectives implemented in the projects include:

  • Increased salmonid rearing habitat by creating off-channel ponds and backwater habitats.
  • Improved habitat complexity for all life stages of salmonids in the lower portion of Cemetery Creek.
  • Reduced erosion in the lower portion of Cemetery Creek.
  • Removed portions of anthropogenic gravel berms to restore geomorphic function of stream processes.
  • Provided enhanced habitat conditions, while minimizing impacts to surrounding vegetation and ground surfaces.

Salmon Park before and after replanting
Salmon Park restoration site immediately following construction (left) and after replanting (right)

Cemetery Creek before and after restoration
Cemetery Creek channel before (left) and after reconstruction (right).  Restoration created rearing pools for juvenile salmon and increased habitat complexity and channel diversity.

Cemetery Creek North Pond Before Construction 2006 Cemetery Creek North Pond After Construction 2013 Cemetery Creek North Pond After Restoration
Cemetery Creek North Pond before restoration (top), 2006 after restoration (middle), 2013 after restoration (bottom)

Restoration Site Monitoring

The Settlement Agreement for the Whatcom Creek Pipeline incident also provided funding for long-term monitoring of the restoration sites. Monitoring for the Cemetery Creek and Salmon Park projects focuses on seven elements:

  • Vegetation
  • Fish
  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Riparian and terrestrial wildlife (amphibians, birds and mammals)
  • Hydrology and Habitat
  • Water Quality Photo-points