Project Purpose

The South Fork Nooksack Watershed Project brings together landowners, tribes, agencies and community members for an open dialogue about how to conserve agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and recreation in the South Fork Nooksack watershed, while protecting and restoring our water resources in the face of climate change.

Our community is facing continued risks of high flows and flooding in the winter, increasing sediment and stream temperatures, and worsening drought conditions in the summer. We know that we need to be thinking and acting strategically about how to protect our local economy and environment.

Reach-Scale Plan

The South Fork Nooksack River Reach-Scale Plan (2017) provides information for the protection and restoration of the riparian zone of the South Fork Nooksack River (SFNR) in agricultural areas. The plan contains 1) a description of the geographical setting of the SFNR watershed, 2) legacy impacts, 3) impacts of projected climate change on aquatic resources, 4) an inventory of riparian areas and their condition along the river, 5) opportunities for riparian protection and restoration, and 6) identification of land areas (while maintaining confidentiality) that may qualify for funding for protection and restoration activities on lands along the river and/or its tributaries.

Adaptation Plan Published

The Nooksack River Watershed Climate Adaptation Plan is hot off the press!  The Plan assesses climate change vulnerability of 19 species and 6 habitat types, and identifies ways to increase the climate resilience of priority natural and cultural resources in the Nooksack River watershed and associated marine tributaries, a total area of 1,410 square miles (>900,000 acres).
As you know, Western Washington is projected to warm rapidly throughout the 21st century. Increasing temperatures are projected across all seasons, with the greatest warming occurring during the summer. Projected changes in annual precipitation are small compared to year-to-year variability, however, heavy precipitation events are projected to increase in frequency and magnitude.
This Plan is for everyone to learn about, and start getting involved, to help increase our climate resiliency!

Long Term Community Goals

Although we have a wide range of perspectives and interests in the South Fork Nooksack River Valley, we are looking for win-win solutions to protect our water resources for:

  • Our Families: Keep the rural way of life and protect it for our children.
  • Our Farms: Maintain and protect productive agricultural lands and promote long-term agricultural economic viability.
  • Our Forests: Maintain and protect the forestland base and promote a sustainable forest industry with a skilled and steady local workforce.
  • Our Fish: Improve the South Fork ecosystem to increase and support the salmon population.
  • Our Recreation: Ensure through public regulation, education, and community engagement that recreational activities in the Valley contribute positively to the health and safety of our Watershed and protect property rights and community values.

Planning Principles

In order for us to achieve our goals, we need:

  • Communication, transparency, and trust between landowners, residents, agencies, and other stakeholders in the Watershed.
  • Voluntary agreements between landowners and community partners, with incentives for landowner’s efforts to improve watershed conditions.
  • Shared understanding and open dialogue around data, science, resource management, and the changing climate conditions that affect our watershed.
  • Public education around how farmers, foresters, fishers, and other businesses are continually improving their practices to protect and improve water quality.
  • Consideration of the knowledge of local residents relevant to wise management of land and water resources.

Stay Informed

The South Fork Watershed Education Committee is meeting regularly and organizing a series of educational forums dedicated to improving local knowledge of our watershed. Self-determination requires an informed community! Subscribe for updates to make sure you don’t miss the next forum!

Final Draft of the TMDL is nearing completion. Thank you to the South Fork Watershed Education Committee for hosting the community meeting; the presentation from the EPA was very informative. The public comment period for the South Fork Nooksack River Temperature Water Quality Improvement Report and Implementation Plan has closed; we will post the final draft when completed.

Draft South River Nooksack River Watershed Conservation Plan
The Nooksack Indian Tribe Natural Resources Department has released the SFNR Watershed Conservation Plan.  The report is 140 pages long and fairly technical and can be viewed here.  There is also an Executive Summary that is only 30 pages long and less detailed, but highlights the key points and is a bit easier to read. Access the Executive Summary here. Thank you to everyone who provided input! A final plan will be prepared and available by the end of the year.

Watershed Function and Forest Management Study
Susan Dickerson-Lange Phd, of Natural Systems Design has completed her study of the role of forests and forest change in the uplands on watershed function, which contributes to downstream water quantity and quality  As part of the study,  recommendations are offered for silvicultural and restoration actions that have potential to improve flows and lower temperatures.   Here is a short powerpoint of her preliminary work, and her completed study and recommendations.