In 2017, the City began working with American Rivers and the original project partners - the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the Lummi Nation, and the Nooksack Indian Tribe - to initiate a project to achieve fish passage at the Middle Fork diversion dam site. The project involves dam removal to restore habitat connectivity, providing upstream fish passage to 16 miles of pristine habitat for Puget Sound Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout; moving 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; a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and WDFW compliant fish screen to protect downstream emigrating juvenile fish; and improved navigation for recreational whitewater kayakers. Design and permitting are underway in 2018, with construction targeted to be completed by 2020.
Project status: Planning phase
Conceptual and Preliminary Design Milestones completed.
The Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) Large Cap program
project list, with the Middle Fork project maintaining the #1 priority ranking, received its final approval from the Leadership Council. Project construction funding is pending State legislature appropriation to the PSAR program in the 2019-2021 capital budget process.
Several streamlined permitting processes have been secured, including processing of the project under U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permits, and use of the PROJECTS programmatic for Endangered Species Act compliance.
Design consultant: HDR, Inc.
Next milestone: Complete the final design milestone. Ensure agency processing of permits in coordination with critical path timeline for construction by 2020.
Project Partners and Coordination
This project is a collaborative effort between the City of Bellingham, Lummi Nation, Nooksack Indian Tribe, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and American Rivers, with funding from Paul G. Allen Philanthropies, the City of Bellingham, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Resources Legacy Fund through the Open Rivers Fund. Additional key project supporters include the Puget Sound Partnership, Long Live the Kings, and American Whitewater. Partners are consistently engaged throughout the planning process in Partner Advisory Committee meetings and Design Review Team meetings. We welcome all feedback, especially in response to our monthly project updates.
Monthly Project Updates