Nestled between the eastern slope of Stewart Mountain and the Foothills of the Cascades, the South Fork Nooksack River flows through a valley filled with farms, floodplain forests, and wetlands. Land use within the South Fork Nooksack Valley is primarily a combination of commercial forestry and agriculture creating a dynamic community throughout the valley. Finding a balance between farming, forestry, native habitat protection, and water quality improvements is part of Whatcom Land Trust’s mission.
In late 2018, Whatcom Land Trust co-purchased 67.5 acres of riverfront farmland in the South Fork Valley with longtime Whatcom County resident and ecologist Eric Stover. This property, located along the South Fork Nooksack River, provides benefits for salmon, multiple bird species and other wildlife. A large wetland complex is also present which supports numerous wildlife species as well as helping to improve water quality and quantity in the South Fork Nooksack River.
The Stover property has undergone a boundary line adjustment to divide the property into two parcels, one to be owned by Eric and the other by the Land Trust. Now that this adjustment is completed, Whatcom Land Trust owns 36 acres of riverfront property connecting to other Land Trust owned properties along the South Fork. Protecting habitat within the floodplain of the South Fork while providing a buffer to the surrounding community is a key goal for the Land Trust and after the purchase of the Stover property, Whatcom Land Trust now owns and protects more than 350 contiguous acres along the South Fork Nooksack River.
Restoration planning has begun on the 36 acres to improve the riparian area for salmon habitat and all other wildlife. This site has excellent potential for hosting Work Parties and Field Fridays. Eric Stover envisions the remaining 30 acres as a thriving farm utilizing regenerative agricultural practices. Eric will also become a Volunteer Land Steward for nearby properties owned by the Land Trust, being the eyes and ears on the ground to assist with habitat protection. This project is an excellent example of farms, fish, and wildlife coexisting in Whatcom County.