Lummi to restore Smuggler’s Slough

LUMMI NATION (Feb. 26, 2007) – The Lummi Indian Nation is working with the state Department of Ecology to protect and restore wetlands in the Nooksack River estuary, one of the few undeveloped estuaries in Puget Sound.

The nearly $1 million project will restore 246 acres of wetlands at Smuggler’s Slough, north of Bellingham. The goal is to return the rare coastal wetlands to a more natural condition. Restoration elements include removing two simple fish passage blockages in the slough and reconnecting a historic channel to improve the flow through the estuary.

“We are pleased to work with the Department of Ecology to restore and preserve Nooksack River estuary wetlands,” said Merle Jefferson, natural resource director for the Lummi Nation. “The project will restore important habitat for fish and wildlife. We also want the project to help address nearshore water quality challenges that threaten treaty-protected shellfish harvest rights.”

Funding for the project is being provided to the tribe and Ecology through the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, established by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in 1990 to help states acquire, restore and enhance coastal wetlands.

The Nooksack estuary provides spawning, saltwater transition and rearing habitat for federally listed chinook salmon and bull trout, as well as many other salmon species. The estuary’s restoration benefits not only the salmon, but also bald eagles, trumpeter swans, Canada geese, ducks, herons and shorebirds that nest in the area.

For more information, contact: Jim Hansen, Lummi Natural Resources Director of Restoration, (360) 384-1489; Kari Neumeyer, North Sound information officer, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, (360) 424-8226, [email protected]