by Darrell Gray
The Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association completed its first Fishtrap Creek riparian planting project with Harlan Kredit and Lynden Christian High School (LCHS) students in 1995. This would be the beginning of a long-term relationship with the creek, the high school and many landowners between the Canadian border and south Lynden.
Working with the Fishtrap Creek Watershed Improvement District and then Washington state biologist Steve Seymour, NSEA submitted a grant application to the Washington Department of Ecology’s Centennial Clean Water Program to remove invasive plants and install native plants along the creek, from Boundary Road to East Badger Road, just north of Lynden.
NSEA received the grant in 2003 and, over the next five years, worked with LCHS, two Washington Conservation Corps crews and 10 agricultural landowners to complete work along 2.8 miles of the project reach.
The partnerships developed during this project also allowed NSEA to replace two agricultural instream crossings with bridges.
During this time, NSEA also started to assist Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife with its Fishtrap Creek spawning surveys, which collected valuable data about salmonid species utilizing the creek.
Through the years, NSEA has continued partnering with numerous private landowners, LCHS teachers and students and Lynden City Parks to complete more than 20 planting- and large woody debris-placement projects along Fishtrap Creek through the city of Lynden.
In spring of 2017 and this past April, NSEA worked with LCHS, the Fishtrap Creek Watershed Improvement District, Rader Farms and the Heeringa family to complete the last 800 feet of the Boundary-to-Badger road, 3-mile project. To date, with all its amazing partners, NSEA has improved salmon habitat along 4.5 miles of Fishtrap Creek and LCHS has worked hard to instill a sense of stewardship for the creek and its salmon in all the students who participated in this work.
Darrell Gray, project manager, has been with NSEA for 24 years. He leads NSEA’s instream and restoration projects with designs, permits and implementations.