LUMMI (Oct. 27, 2008) —The Lummi Nation drew on its own resources during an instream habitat improvement project last summer in Bells Creek. Technician Chris Phair, a tribal member who had previous experience with heavy equipment, operated the excavator that placed more than 50 pieces of large wood in 400 feet of the channel of Bells Creek, a tributary to the North Fork Nooksack River.
“Having Lummi Natural Resources staff at the controls is an important step for us because we are developing our internal capacity rather than hiring a contractor,” said Jim Hansen, restoration coordinator for the tribe.
The Whatcom Land Trust contracted with the tribe to assess and improve the habitat on the property, which the Trust acquired through a Salmon Recovery Funding Board grant. Lummi Natural Resources determined that placing a large wood structure in the North Fork habitat along the property would not be a good use of public funding at this time, but salmon habitat could be improved by placing wood in Bells Creek. A history of removing wood and straightening the channel for flood control left the creek devoid of the cover and pools needed by salmon.
Using Land Trust-derived Salmon Recovery Funding Board funds and a Pacific Salmon Commission grant, geologist Michael Maudlin, along with tribal technicians Phair, Frank Bob and Collin Bob, placed wood in and along the creek to restore woody cover without backing up flow in the channel. The pieces of wood were clustered to scour covered pools for spawning bull trout, steelhead and coho salmon.
The tribe also designed a project to establish a riparian buffer on 2 acres along the creek near its confluence with the North Fork, and plant conifer trees within 17 acres of existing hardwood stands. The site preparation has been completed and the tree planting will begin this winter.