By David Nunez
Cascadia Daily News 

Floating ban coming to South Fork Nooksack Riverv


Last updated 7/13/2023 at 2:26pm

Hailey Hoffman, Cascadia Daily News

Paddlers head down the Nooksack River in July 2022. Whatcom County Council banned floating down the South Fork Nooksack River during a Tuesday, July 11 meeting, due to concerns the recreational activity is harming salmon.

Floating down the South Fork Nooksack River will soon be off-limits for the summer.

Whatcom County Council approved the ban by a 4-2 margin, with one council member absent, after a lengthy public comment period during a Tuesday, July 11 meeting.

The ban will be in place yearly between the dates of June 1 and Oct. 31 until the number of Chinook salmon in the South Fork reach 50% of a 9,900 recovery goal. The current recovery number of naturally spawning chinook salmon is at 2%, far from the sunset limit.

During a two-hour-long discussion, which included 28 public comments, some residents questioned if the county was looking at the wrong solution and blamed rising water temperatures for low salmon numbers. Other residents focused on the economic impact a floating ban would have on the area's local businesses, which thrive on summer recreational tourism.

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