Thinkglobal, celebrate Earth Day locally

Published on Thu, Apr 19, 2007 by ara Nelson

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Think global, celebrate Earth Day locally

By Tara Nelson

Several Whatcom County groups have organized environmental cleanup events this weekend in observance of Earth Day.

NSEA ‘baby shower’ and work party
On Saturday, April 21, the Chums of Terrell Creek, a subgroup of the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA), will host a work party beginning at 9 a.m. at the Birch Bay Bible Community Church.

The event will include tree planting along the creek to provide shade and keep water temperature cool for salmon, as well as the removal of invasive species such as Canary grass and Himalayan blackberries. The work party will be followed by their annual “Baby Shower” celebrating the release of nearly 50,000 baby chum salmon into an undesignated area of Terrell Creek as well as an after-work barbecue, said Rachel Vasak, NSEA program director.

The Chums group started in February 2003, as a part of their “Stream Stewards” program, with the goal of initiating groups of local stream stewards in five watersheds in Whatcom County, Vasak said.

The Chums of Terrell Creek hatched as a result of those meetings and has continued to work to involve community members in the restoration of Terrell Creek, with the goal of bringing salmon back to this watershed. 

The creek, located south of Blaine, was once a flourishing habitat for chum, coho and steelhead salmon but state agencies declared it lifeless in some areas because dissolved oxygen levels were so low as a result of logging, farming activities and crowding by non-native plant species.

Group chair Elie Friedlob, of Birch Bay, said this is the third consecutive year the organization has planted chum salmon in the creek with the hopes of their eventual return as adult spawners. She said that conditions are improving as indicated by the presence of naturally occurring coho and steelhead salmon in the stream.

“The coho is a particularly fussy salmon,” she said. “So to have them in the stream is a sign of progress because it’s a sign the habitat is improving.”

Friedlob said the group hopes to start seeing the return of the chum salmon planted during their first year by the end of 2008.

“The chum come back from three to six years, depending on how much food there is out there in the ocean,” she said. “We’re looking for them to start returning this winter, but if not this winter then most likely next winter.”

Individuals interested in participating in the work party should wear sturdy work clothes, shoes and rain gear. The organization will supply work gloves, shovels, warm drinks and snacks. NSEA will also provide both vegetarian and regular hot dogs, cake and soft drinks for participants.

For more information about The Chums of Terrell Creek or NSEA, visit www.n-sea.org.

Birch Bay annual clean-up
The Birch Bay community will host the annual Birch Bay Spring community cleanup beginning at 9 a.m. at the C Shop in Birch Bay. Participants will be asked to clean litter from beaches, roadsides and vacant lots. Individuals should bring work gloves and sturdy shoes. Coffee, cocoa, snacks, area assignments and garbage bags will be provided.

Evening paddle in Semiahmoo Bay
The Whatcom County Parks and Recreation department will offer a guided evening kayak tour of Semiahmoo Bay and Drayton Harbor beginning at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 led by Elakah Expeditions. A second kayaking expedition is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday, April 29.
Cost is $65 per person. Register by calling 360/733-2900.

Walks explore Whatcom County’s diversity
A series of interpretive walks hosted by Whatcom County Parks and Recreation will showcase the diverse landscapes of Whatcom County from saltwater shores to the slopes of Mt. Baker.

The next walk is scheduled for Saturday, April 21, and is a six-mile jaunt around the northeast shore of Lake Whatcom following the popular Hertz Trail.

Participants can enjoy lake views, waterfalls and forest and learn about ongoing water quality issues and watershed protection. Meet at Hertz Trail, Lake Whatcom Northshore Trailhead at 10 a.m. Cost is $2.

Two other walks are scheduled for the month of May. They are:
Saturday, May 5: Join interpreters to learn about the challenges of early homesteading in the South Fork Nooksack Valley on this 1- to 2-mile walk in Nesset Farm County Park. Meet at the parks and recreation office to travel to site at 10 a.m. Fee is $2.

Saturday, May 12: This four-mile round-trip hike around Artist Point gives an up-close view of the snowiest place on earth. Meet at parks and recreation office to travel to site at 8 a.m. Fee is $28 and includes snowshoes and poles.

All walks are moderately paced on well-maintained trails and are guided by interpreter David Bean. All ages are welcome, although children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information, call 360/733-2900.