This project is a result of collaboration between the City of Bellingham, Nooksack Indian Tribe, Lummi Nation, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and American Rivers, with funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the City of Bellingham, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Resources Legacy Fund through their Open Rivers Fund, the Puget Sound Partnership, and the Recreation Conservation Office. Additional project partners include Long Live the Kings and American Whitewater.
In 2017, the City and American Rivers, with the support of private funders, began working with the original project partners - the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the Lummi Nation, and the Nooksack Indian Tribe - to reinitiate a project to achieve fish passage at the Middle Fork diversion dam site. The project involves dam removal to restore habitat connectivity, provides upstream fish passage to 16 miles of pristine habitat for Puget Sound Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout; moves the point of diversion just upstream of the existing location to eliminate the need for the dam and to maintain the City's water supply; constructs a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and WDFW compliant fish screen to protect downstream emigrating juvenile fish; provides cultural benefits; and restores the Middle Fork Nooksack to a free-flowing river.
A Partner Advisory Committee (PAC) and Design Review Team (DRT) were formed in December 2017 to advance the project in full coordination with project partners and technical reviewers.
Six PAC or DRT meetings have been held since December 2017:
December 7, 2017: a PAC meeting was held to provide information on new project funding and the project schedule, as well as to gain clarity on the desired project outcomes of each partner entity.
January 25, 2018: a PAC meeting was held to collaborate on approaches to streamline permitting and secure funding.
February 12, 2018: PAC and DRT members attended an Alternative Selection Workshop to review alternatives proposed and discuss the basis of design for a proposed preferred alternative.
August 1, 2018: DRT members attended a 30% design review meeting, where early draft preliminary design plans and reports were reviewed and discussed. Input and feedback was documented and incorporated into 60% design plans.
October 24, 2018: DRT members attended a 60% design review meeting, where preliminary design plans and reports were reviewed and discussed. Input and feedback was documented and incorporated into 90% design plans.
January 12, 2019: DRT members attended a 90% design review meeting, where final feedback was received and used in finalizing design.
The project has secured nearly $17 million for design
and construction. Project funding sources are diverse and range from private
foundations to local, state, and federal government agencies. Current project
funders consist of the State of Washington (52%), the Paul G. Allen Family
Foundation (16%), the City of Bellingham (11%), NOAA (>2%), the Resources
Legacy Fund (1%), and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (<1%). It is
anticipated the remaining 17% of funding needed to complete the project will be
acquired from Pacific Salmon Treaty funds administered by NOAA in early 2020,
thereby increasing the federal support for the project to 20%. The private
foundations (PAFF, RLF), City, and USFWS provided the initial funding needed
for project management services, planning, and the design phase. This seed funding
was critical for leveraging the remaining funds needed for project