Little Squalicum Creek again empties into Bellingham Bay, with a new estuary designed to provide habitat for young salmon and other fish.
It’s part of a $5.7 million project that began in spring 2022 to remove a culvert at the creek mouth and build the wetland, letting young salmon swim to sea and allowing adults to return and spawn.
“It’s not every day that you get to see water entering an estuary for the first time,” the city of Bellingham tweeted Friday.
A four-part social media thread includes a time-lapse drone video of water swirling into the estuary after the creek channel was opened with an excavator as staff members who worked on the project watched, Public Works Department spokeswoman Stefanie Cilinceon told The Bellingham Herald.
“Everyone in attendance was very excited to watch it happen,” Cilinceon said in an email.
1/4: It's not every day that you get to see water entering an estuary for the first time! Earlier this week, the new Little Squalicum Estuary was officially connected to Bellingham Bay. pic.twitter.com/SmWjTygN1t
— City of Bellingham (@CityofBhamWA) September 15, 2023
“These are important construction milestones in the city’s estuary project, designed to improve water quality, remove a fish passage barrier, restore essential coastal habitat, and add new trails and a pedestrian footbridge in Little Squalicum Park,” the city said.
Those trails and footbridge are now open, with some limits because construction work continues at the site.
Most construction is expected to be done by early October, and planting of the new estuary will continue through spring of 2024, the city said.