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A salmon makes its way upstream

Stream Restoration & 
Habitat Improvement


Many salmon populations are at a fraction of historic levels resulting in cultural, economic, & ecological impacts. Restoring natural habitats for Pacific salmon is a cost effective means to recovery for them & other endangered species. We offer voluntary and incentive-based programs that are a proven means to empower landowners to be stewards of the land & water. 

An adult and baby orca swim in a purply blue water

Program Offerings

The water needs of our native salmon can best be expressed using the 5 C's: Cold, clean, clear, consistent and complex. 

Water is kept cold by the shade that riparian buffers provide, preventing warm water disease.

Native plants help to filter pesticides, herbicides, oil and other pollutants from our waterways, blazing the path to clean water for salmon.


Native plants in a riparian buffer can help filter sediments and particulate matter in a stream to keep water clear for salmon. Clear water is essential to ensure proper oxygenation. Some bodies of water, like the Nooksack, are naturally filled with glacial sediment that the salmon are accustomed to. Water that is naturally opaque is not a concern. Murky water filled with pollutants while fish are trying to migrate is like a human trying to run a marathon breathing only diesel fumes.  

Riparian buffers can help return water to its ancestral flow, where it geologically settled at the end of our most recent ice age. This optimizes water flow to ensure it is there when the salmon are counting on it to be. This consistent water is critical to spawning salmon populations that want to reproduce for more than a single generation. 

Native plants provide complex habitat in streams and rivers. Debris, snags and root beds are essential to break upstream currents so salmon can rest on their long journey. 

Riparian buffers are an excellent solution to confront the challenges that salmon face on many fronts. 

Meet The Team

Frank Corey

Frank Corey

Fish & Wildlife Habitat Improvement Manager

360-526-2381 x131

Wayne Chaudiere

Wayne Chaudiere

CREP Resource Specialist

360-526-2381 x116

Emily Hirsch

Emily Hirsch

Riparian & Stormwater Specialist

360-526-2381 x114

Tristan Simons

Tristan Simons

Habitat Restoration Specialist

360-526-2381 x126

Stream Restoration FAQ

Stream Restoration
Frequently Asked Questions 

Seedlings in blue protection tubes line a streambank. A barn is in the background.

What is CREP?

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program is a voluntary program designed to help both landowners and the environment. CREP pays landowners to establish buffers of native trees and shrubs along fish bearing streams and rivers. 

If you have a riparian buffer then likely, yes. Planting a riparian buffer provides a safe corridor for animals to travel through. You can play an active role in reducing roadkill, nursing biodiversity, and keeping Whatcom County wild. 

Two deer fawns look at the camera with woodland behind them
Riparian Wildlife
Bumble bee on mock orange

Many factors have led to massive die-offs and rising instances of colony collapse disorder of pollinators in recent decades. These include habitat destruction, climate change, use of non-organic pesticides, and many others. Planting riparian buffers provides sanctuary and necessary food for your local pollinators. A direct correlation has been found between local pollinator health and crop yields, as well as ecosystem health. 


A hedgerow can take many forms, from a single species of rectangularly groomed border to a streamside forest of biodiversity. Hedgerows provide shelter and food for local pollinators, serve as a windbreak to protect crops, and provide carbon storage. Additionally, they help hold streamside moisture, stabilize embankments, and shelter our fragile waterways from pesticides, engine fumes, and other forms of pollution. All functional benefits aside, hedgerows and riparian buffers are a beautiful addition to any property. 

people next to wetland. A thin row of trees is next to the banks and a hillside further back.
Salmon under water

Fish passage barriers are anything that blocks the natural flow of water or otherwise prevents fish from having access to consecutive parts of a stream. They could be in the form of a clogged culvert, a dam, or a bridge.

CREP can cover the cost to remove these barriers and pay for the installation of more effective ones that are better for fish and safer for humans. Reach out to us for more information!

Fish Passage Barrier

Aside from generating passive income, there are many benefits to having a buffer on your property. These include stream bank stabilization, free fencing to control livestock, creating better habitat to help endangered species recover, invasive species removal, and more. Visit our main CREP page to learn about more benefits. 

Salmon underwater looking sideways at the camera
Person fly fishing in river

Stream restoration helps conserve, protect and rebuild land where humans can relax, fish, hunt and otherwise recreate in the outdoors. 

There are few moments in life more rewarding than seeing the leaves catching sunlight, the hawk perched, the salmon running through your own yard.

Each year, Whatcom Conservation District hosts a native plant sale bringing affordable and effective native plants to all residents of Whatcom County. Click the link below to learn how to pre-order, plant sale dates, and more. If you have a specific question about native plants in relation to your unique situation please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here to help!

We hope you will join us and fill your landscape with beautiful, low-maintenance native plants. 

Whatcom CD staff holding plant plugs next to wheel barrow filled with plants. Other plants are next to her.
Beaver on log covering its eyes

We get it. Beavers can be a destructive nuisance.

There are many non-lethal actions that can be taken before utilizing lethal force, such as trapping and relocating, tree cages, tree planting restoration, and more, if you have a nuisance beaver. 

Submit a form if you have special concerns about beavers or any other animals on your property. We have experienced staff that are excited to help you protect your structures, crops, and landscape. You can learn more about the wildlife you might encounter in your riparian buffer by visiting our CREP wildlife page. 


Invasive Weeds

Whatcom County is a hub of trade and commerce, and has been for centuries. Being connected to a global economy often means unintentionally inviting non-native organisms onto our landscape that overtake indigenous flora and fauna with ease. Below we will cover the three most common invasive species you are likely to find in Whatcom County. Reach out to us to learn more about how to handle them on your property. The best time to begin managing your invasive species is yesterday. The second best time is today. 

A boat filled with weeds next to a weeded stream bank
Blackberries hanging from a vine

Himalayan Blackberry and Evergreen Blackberry are extremely common and aggressive invasive weeds in Whatcom County. Our abundance of disturbed sites like clear cuts, roadsides and urban dwellings provide ample opportunity for this plant to grow. 

Blackberries out compete native species for soil nutrients and easily stifle their growth. Additionally, blackberry creates large impassable areas and contributes to habitat fragmentation. Left unchecked, Himalayan blackberry can grow over 20 feet in a single year. 

When clearing, cuts and nicks are often unavoidable but can be mitigated by wearing proper safety equipment such as safety glasses, thick leather gloves, and thick clothing. Clothing designed for heavy arbor work, such as chainsaw chaps, are a good companion to deal with blackberry thorns.

The plant can only be killed by removing or destroying the roots. When digging be sure to remove all the roots, as they can easily resprout and undo all of your hard work. 


As an absolute last resort measure herbicide may be applied. Consult a professional to get an evaluation before application.

Reed Canary Grass is another aggressive invasive species that easily outcompetes others. 

The grass does not provide much nutrition and provides little to the ecosystem. Additionally, the lack of rootage can contribute to siltation in our streams and irrigation ditches, which is bad news for our salmon and many other species. 

It is one of the most common species to be found in riparian zones, and prefers saturated soil. 

Mowing before seed heads can be formed can prevent reseeding. You can target your landscape maintenance to twice yearly mowings, once in early June and once in early October, to mitigate growth. 

Reed canary grass overwhelming field

Knotweed is another highly invasive plant species that poses a threat to the ecosystem in Whatcom County. The plant can quickly outcompete native plants and significantly reduce biodiversity. Knotweed is also known to cause damage to infrastructure and buildings due to its aggressive root system.

This plant is highly resilient and can grow in a variety of environments, including riparian zones, roadsides, and disturbed areas. It is able to rapidly spread through vegetative reproduction, making it difficult to control.

To manage Knotweed, early detection is crucial, and it's recommended to remove the entire plant, including roots, before it has a chance to establish.


Repeated treatments are usually required to ensure eradication, and it's important to dispose of the plant material appropriately to prevent further spread. In addition, restricting soil movement and taking steps to prevent disturbances in areas where Knotweed is present can help limit its spread.

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