Nooksack River Recreation Planning

Nooksack River, WA | © Lindsay Taylor

The unique and beautiful Nooksack River system is the gem of Whatcom County, Washington. Flowing west from the snow-covered peaks of Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan, and the Twin Sisters Mountains of the North Cascades to the sparkling, salty waters of the Salish Sea, the Nooksack River weaves its way through forests, farmlands, and several small communities.

The river is home to a wide variety of native fish and wildlife species, including all five species of Pacific salmon, bald eagles, black bears, cougars, and elk. It is also a regional outdoor recreation haven, providing local residents and area visitors with scenic hiking and horse-packing trails, challenging mountain biking and mountaineering trails, idyllic riverside campsites and picnic areas, world class whitewater boating, and incredible cross country and alpine skiing opportunities.

The purpose of the Nooksack River Recreation Plan (NRRP) is to provide guidance and clear recommendations for managing recreation use in the upper watersheds while at the same time protecting and restoring streamside and riverine habitat for fish and wildlife. Balancing the need for recreation access and opportunities with ecosystem conservation and enhancement goals can be tricky, but is critical to ensuring that future generations will continue to enjoy a healthy Nooksack River system.

While not a legally binding resource management plan, the NRRP does recognize the important role that natural resources play in the recreation experience and the potential impacts that recreation can have on those precious resources. As population, recreation use, and the demand on natural resources continue to grow, the Nooksack River Recreation Planning Advisory Committee is seeking to develop a management strategy that will provide high quality recreational experiences while protecting our treasured natural and cultural resources.

The Nooksack River Recreation Plan will assist land managers and the public in 5 ways:

  1. The Plan will record recreation use and opportunities within specific river sections and adjacent uplands and detail relevant management and safety information.
  2. The Plan will identify important habitat protection and/or restoration areas and provide information on the status of past, current, and future habitat enhancement projects.
  3. The Plan will develop a shared vision and guiding principles for sustainable recreation management.
  4. The Plan will identify recreation issues that need to be resolved to meet conservation and/or recreation goals.
  5. The Plan will present clear recommendations for recreation use and access that may be implemented and/or incorporated into future planning efforts.

More information on the planning process is available and your participation is encouraged! If you are interested in engaging in the collaborative efforts of the Nooksack River Recreation Planning Advisory Committee we’d love to hear from you. Please contact Associate Director Wendy McDermott at [email protected] or 206-213-0330 x1.

Additional Resources