Many farmers work to improve their land for salmon habitat. Fred Polinder’s story is a
beautiful example of this effort and of what can be accomplished for salmon through collaboration.
Fred Polinder’s family has owned and farmed 120 acres of land along Kamm Creek for over a century. Kamm Creek is a lowland stream in the Nooksack Basin that provides critical spawning and rearing habitat for salmon. Coho, chum, Chinook, and steelhead all utilize Kamm Creek for migration, rearing, and spawning. However, like many salmon streams in Whatcom County, a culvert blocked salmon access to the stream’s upper reaches.
Culverts become barriers to salmon when they have too high a velocity, water in the culvert is too shallow, the culvert is obstructed, or there is a large height distance between the entrance of the culvert and the stream. Fish passage barriers, like the one that was in Kamm Creek limit the amount of accessible habitat
to salmon. This is why Whatcom Conservation District (Whatcom CD) works with landowners and other agencies to remove them.
Whatcom CD partnered with Fred, to remove the culvert located under Fred Polinder’s farm access road and put in a new bridge opening 1.5 miles of previously inaccessible salmon habitat. However, that was not the end of Fred’s commitment to protecting salmon habitat.
After completion of the fish passage barrier removal project, the Conservation District asked Fred if he would be willing to participate in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). CREP is a voluntary program that pays landowners to establish buffers of native trees and shrubs along fish bearing streams and rivers. These buffers help protect water quality, provide shade for salmon, and enhance wildlife and pollinator habitat. He was excited to participate and enrolled 7.6 acres in CREP, planting 3,650 seedlings along 4,500 feet of stream.
“Along the creek we wanted to have a larger buffer so that we could work with having animals here, still be able to graze, and not do damage to the fish habitat,” said Polinder.
Now Fred continues to graze his cows while protecting a large portion of crucial salmon habitat in Whatcom County. Hear more about Fred’s story through a video published by Whatcom Family Farmers.
If you are interested in protecting salmon habitat on your land, contact Frank Corey with the Whatcom CD today at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 526-2381 x131! Learn more about our Fish Passage Barrier Removal and CREP Program on our website. These programs are funded in partnership with the National Resource Conservation Service, the Farm Service Agency, and the Washington State Conservation Commission.