Nooksack River Dam

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
This popped up in my newsfeed.
Just curious for those in the know as orcas and chinook are mentioned in this article.
I know some expressed the Pilchuck dam removal was a feel good story but really wouldn’t increase chinook numbers.

Is that the same story with the middle fork of the Nooksack or will this removal help increase chinook numbers?
SF

 

Charles Sullivan

Active Member
This popped up in my newsfeed.
Just curious for those in the know as orcas and chinook are mentioned in this article.
I know some expressed the Pilchuck dam removal was a feel good story but really wouldn’t increase chinook numbers.

Is that the same story with the middle fork of the Nooksack or will this removal help increase chinook numbers?
SF

Mostly, yes.

There is not a bunch of great habitat that will be opened up. It's a low hanging fruit project. I think the money is mostly private though so it's hard to complain even with the limitted benefits.

Go Sox,
cds
 

Salmo_g

WFF Supporter
Is that the same story with the middle fork of the Nooksack or will this removal help increase chinook numbers?

The middle fork reach is historical habitat for Chinook. The article mentions fall Chinook, but the MF will be more valuable if it is colonized or re-stocked with Nooksack spring Chinook. Naturally produced spring and summer Chinook are vital, but missing segments of orca diets.

The dominant Chinook in the Nooksack basin is Green River (GR) origin hatchery fall Chinook. And hatchery fall Chinook are managed pretty much as a wipe-out fishery in the Nooksack basin, meaning there is very low natural fall Chinook production due to the high harvest rate. And although production of this type of Chinook has been decreased in recent years, these are not the fish the SRKW are most in need of. The reason is that almost all Puget Sound hatchery Chinook production is GR type. They all migrate at about the same time and migrate to about the same place. That means, regardless of how many there are, they intersect with orca foraging for only a relatively brief span of time and space.

Unfortunately, the natural production of spring and summer Chinook in PS rivers is at an all time low. Adding 16 miles of low to moderate productivity Chinook habitat has the potential to increase surplus natural Chinook production to feed one orca for 3 or 4 days under a best case scenario. Given that PS Chinook populations are struggling just to replace themselves these days, the more likely outcome is that the added productivity from the MF Nooksack won't feed one orca for even one day.

BTW, I'm all for habitat restoration and improvement. I happen to think that people should understand how little $20 million buys in the habitat arena. Habitat costs very little to destroy and oh so very much to restore. Couple that with the current trend of extremely low ocean productivity, and a million dollars buys even less. The upside is that the MF Nooksack should be moderately to highly productive for wild steelhead and moderate to low for coho and pink salmon. And good for bull trout.
 

Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
What was that dam built for anyway. It doesn't look like it did much good. But what in the hell do I know.
 

Jim Darden

Active Member
I went to see what they were dong there but they have gated the road and posted the whole area with "no trespassing" signs. I don't know who owns the property around there but the roads used to be public........
 

Josh

dead in the water
WFF Moderator
The dam was for water supply diverted to Lake Whatcom for use by the city of Bellingham.

It will still operate as a water diversion facility, at least as I understand it. It just won't be a barrier to fish passage.
 

Josh

dead in the water
WFF Moderator
Awesome. Pls share if anyone has a live feed.

Love watching these come down.

I pushed the folks in charge of the project to make sure they did some video work when they gave a presentation at a North Sound TU meeting last year. I pointed out how much we all loved the Elwah timelapse stuff. So I'm hoping that they added some of that to the plans.
 

Smalma

Active Member
SF -
While it has been a lot of years since I look at most of the middle fork of Nooksack above the diversion dam I suspect much like the Pilchuck Dam the Chinook benefits will not be as great as advertised.

The Dam is located at approximately river mile 7.2. My old Department of Fisheries stream catalog has this to say about the headwater habitat above river mile 10.0 -"The potential for producing salmon within these headwaters is extremely limited due mainly to the steepness of the gradient and relatively limited access". Between the dam and river mile 10 the catalog shows 3 partial barriers as well as another partial barrier below the dam site..

After spending a couple decades of poking around the upper reaches of anadromous waters in a variety of Skagit tributaries have learned that the timing of when the stream temperatures drop below 4 degrees C can limit salmon distribution. The only stream temperatures records I can find for the MF is downstream during the late spring to early fall period. In May the temperatures were typically ranging between 3 to 5 degree C. By way of comparison on the Sauk above the Whitechuck (typical spring Chinook habitat) the May temperatures were 5 to 7 degrees C. While we don't know what the fall MF temperatures are it looks like it maybe marginal for Chinook. Between the nature of the habitat and the likely temperature profile I don't expect more than occasional Chinook use.

The project will be a win for the char which is found throughout the upper basin in the resident life history. The dam removal will expand the diversity of that char population by providing access to the migratory life histories. Don't know whether there is genetic information for that char population. In that kind of habitat I would not be surprised to see some steelhead usage though they seem to do best when there are stretches of river (several miles of low gradient habitat) which other than a short reach around the mouth of Clearwater Creek.

I do have to wonder what the Chinook and steelhead benefits would have been for the Nooksack basin if the water diversion also ended.

Curt
 

Bob Newman

Active Member
It will still operate as a water diversion facility, at least as I understand it. It just won't be a barrier to fish passage.
That’s what the article said. I was answering OMJ’s question about why was the dam built and used for.
 

Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
Boy, that explosion wasn't much of a blast, The rocks just moved a little and then fell back into place. I guess I was expecting to much.
 
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smc

Active Member
Boy, that explosion wasn't much of a blast, The rocks just moved a little and then fell back into place. I guess I was expecting to much.

Looks like there was some blasting mats on top to keep the rocks from flying.
 

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