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; improved navigation for recreational whitewater kayakers; and restoration of a free-flowing river. The project was designed and permitted in January 2018 - March 2019, and $5.5 million in private-public funding secured. The project was ranked as the #1 priority of the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) fund. Pending final funding, construction will be completed in 2020.
Project status: Pre-construction. Design and permitting complete. Construction funding allocated.
Design consultant: HDR, Inc.
Next milestone: Advertise construction contract for bid in the summer of 2019 and secure contractor for 2020 construction.
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 Family Foundation, 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.
Monthly Project Updates