ACME (Feb. 7, 2004) – Making sure wild salmon and trout continue to survive in the Nooksack River takes time, effort and vision. To help hone that vision, the Lummi Nation and the Nooksack Indian Tribe invite community members to a public meeting on Monday, Feb. 7, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Acme Elementary School.

The tribes are seeking public involvement for their latest ambitious salmon recovery project, set to take place on the South Fork and at the mouth of Hutchinson Creek. By removing portions of certain obsolete dikes, installing large engineered logjams and returning large woody debris to the river system, the tribal initiative will be a big step toward restoring the area to its natural habitat functions.

The Feb. 7 event will be the fifth in a series of public meetings since May 2004 where community members have asked questions and made suggestions about the restoration project. The input received at these meetings, says Lummi Nation Restoration Coordinator Jim Hansen, has been incorporated into the project’s planning. At the Feb. 7 meeting, contractors working on the project will present a 50 percent project design.

The project, sponsored by the Lummi Nation and the Nooksack Indian Tribe, aims to bring back salmon and trout to self-sustaining levels in the South Fork of the Nooksack River. The project will especially benefit chinook salmon and bull trout, listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The impacts for salmon and trout could be huge, said Lummi Natural Resources Director Merle Jefferson.

“Once we’re done, we’ll have ensured that fish have year-round access to Hutchinson Creek,” said Jefferson. “This will open up spawning habitat and allow fish to reach the cool waters they need for refuge in summer.”

“We are developing a project design that will provide the best benefit to fish without any tradeoffs, like increased flooding,” he said. “The project will be designed to not increase risk to homeowners and local farms.” Besides budgeting significant dollars toward comprehensive studies of the watershed, project planners considered 16 different potential alternatives to ensure that the best option is selected.

(END)

For more information, contact: Merle Jefferson, (360) 384.2225; Jim Hansen, (360) 384.2340; Jeff Shaw, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, (360) 424.8226.