Once constructed, the
Little Squalicum Estuary project will help address the need for estuarine habitat in Bellingham Bay by establishing a 2.4-acre intertidal estuary in the lower part of Little Squalicum Creek Park. An estuary is where a river or stream meets the sea. Estuary and nearshore habitat is used by Pacific salmon in multiple phases of life and is vital to their recovery.
Over the past 150 years, Bellingham Bay has lost an estimated 282 acres of aquatic land (mostly intertidal estuarine habitat) to
development. The Little Squalicum Estuary project will create rearing and foraging habitat for juvenile salmon in an area consistently used by salmon (Nearshore Juvenile Chinook Study, Beamer 2015). The estuary will benefit several species including threatened Chinook, which are known to concentrate in Bellingham's pocket estuary habitats (Beamer 2015).
The Little Squalicum Estuary project was prioritized by the community during the Little Squalicum Park Master Planning process facilitated by Bellingham Parks in 2009. The planning process involved substantial community input including guidance from a Stakeholder Advisory Team comprised of various private and public stakeholders and related subject area experts. Construction of the new estuary is anticipated for 2021. To find out more about construction, visit the
Little Squalicum Estuary capital project page.
This project would not be possible without the partnership of landowners within the project area: Port of Bellingham, Whatcom County and BNSF.
Learn more about the importance of local estuaries in the video below, created by the City of Bellingham Public Works Natural Resources Division.