Aquatic habitat in local streams, wetlands, and near-shore areas is often physically altered by new development. This can cause problems for aquatic plants and animals. The BBWARM District promotes actions that reduce the impacts of development in the Birch Bay Watershed and improve and protect aquatic habitat. Keep reading to find out how we are working to improve aquatic habitat.
How does development harm aquatic habitat?
Development can impact aquatic habitat in several ways:
Decreased access to habitat - physical alterations like road culverts and dams create barriers for wildlife
Altered stream flow - clearing land, increasing impervious surfaces and channelizing creeks can change stream flow
Pollution - Stormwater runoff and septic tanks can pollute waterways and decrease water quality
Habitat loss - replacing habitat with man-made structures decreases space for aquatic life
Increase in invasive species
The Birch Bay Comprehensive Stormwater Plan lists three main objectives for improving aquatic habitat:
Identify key shellfish, stream, and wetland habitats
Outline opportunities to sustain and improve shellfish habitat, salmon habitat, and wetland habitat
Maintain and protect natural areas including riparian zones, wetlands, and beachfront by discouraging development in these areas
Habitat Improvement Projects
The BBWARM District is working to protect and improve aquatic habitat through the completion of habitat improvement projects. Some of these past and future projects are described below.
Terrell Creek Habitat Improvement Projects
Kickerville Road Fish Passage Enhancement Project
Installation of several plastic baffles in the culvert to reduce sheet flow and offer resting areas while salmon migrate through the culvert.
Terrell Creek Large Woody Debris Placement Project
Over the last eight years, Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) has worked with several landowners along this stretch of Terrell Creek to install large woody debris (LWD), greatly increasing instream habitat diversity. This project would allow NSEA to continue the restoration process upstream of the previous project and install 6-8 more LWD structures.
Restoration goals include:
Increase riparian buffer size and plant diversity.
Increase instream habitat quality and diversity in the near and long term.
Improve water quality over the long term.
Increase floodplain connectivity.
Terrell Creek Helicopter Log Placement
200 pieces of large woody debris delivered via helicopter along Terrell Creek between Jackson Road and Kickerville Road as mitigation for the Birch Bay Drive and Pedestrian Facility Project.
Fish Passage Barrier Removal Project: Bryan Butler Creek Tributary
Installation of a new bridge was completed in late September 2019.
Collaborative project with the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) to replace a barrier culvert with a bridge to improve fish passage.
Culverts and other human-made barriers can block salmon passage as they migrate upstream to spawn which severely limits their available habitat.
Removing this barrier will allow fish to access approximately 0.7 miles of upstream habitat on this tributary of Terrell Creek, including two forested ponds ideal for summer rearing.
Photo of the pre-existing barrier culvert that was blocking fish passage
Photo of the new bridge that will allow fish passage on this tributary of Terrell Creek
Terrell Creek Salmon Habitat Improvements
Completed in October of 2017
Collaborative project with the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) to improve salmon habitat along Terrell Creek.
Approximately 400 feet of stream channel between Brown and Aldergrove Roads were restored with large woody debris, spawning gravel, step pools and native vegetation. These are key elements for healthy salmon habitat.
BBWARM purchased materials for the project and NSEA provided the labor and coordinated logistics.