Collaborative Plan Provides Vision for Nooksack River
It is such a thrill to complete a project! Especially a two and half year collaborative, planning project that involves several organizations, governments and individuals who have spent hundreds of hours in meetings, on field tours and site assessments, and researching and writing detailed information.
It gives me great pleasure to announce that the Upper Nooksack River Recreation Plan has been finalized and was released to the public today. This new, comprehensive plan will help guide the management of recreation and natural resources along the upper Nooksack River system in Washington state. The plan recognizes and supports the economic and health benefits of recreation, along with protection and restoration of the natural and cultural values of the upper river basin.
Nearly 600 individuals and organizations, including landowners, businesses, paddlers, anglers, hikers, skiers, and equestrians contributed to the Upper Nooksack River Recreation Plan’s development over the past two years, leading to the formulation of over 80 management recommendations. These recommendations are focused on the river corridors of the Nooksack’s North, Middle, and South forks and several tributary streams. Recommendations include improving access to the river, enhancing education and stewardship, maintaining roads and trailheads, and protecting the outstanding values of the river.
The Nooksack River is the lifeblood for local communities that rely on the river for clean water for drinking and agriculture, and for tourism income from visitors drawn to the river’s world class whitewater boating, hiking, skiing, horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking and other recreation opportunities. Outdoor recreation opportunities are important to quality of life as well as economic growth in Washington’s Whatcom and Skagit counties and across the state. For example, outdoor recreation trips and equipment contribute $21.6 billion annually to Washington’s economy, $8 billion of which is spent on activities around water, including fishing, boating, swimming and diving.
The recreation plan was developed through a collaborative planning process led by an advisory committee comprised of representatives from American Rivers, American Whitewater, Hydropower Reform Coalition, Mount Baker Club, National Park Service, Nooksack Tribe, Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, Pacific Northwest Trail Association, the United States Forest Service – Mt. Baker Ranger District, Whatcom Chapter of Back Country Horseman of Washington, Whatcom County Parks and Recreation Department, Whatcom Events (Ski to Sea Race), the Whatcom Land Trust, and Wild and Scenic River Tours. Planning assistance was provided by the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program.
For more information about the recreation plan or to get involved, please contact me at wmcdermott(at)americanrivers(dot)org.