This month, we turn our attention to the Riparian Protection category of the WWRP. What does riparian mean, you may ask? The word riparian comes from the same Latin source that gave us “river”—the Latin word ripa, meaning bank or shore. So “riparian” refers to things that exist along the water, such as riparian wetlands, habitats, trees, etc. WWRP Riparian Protection projects conserve and restore land along our waterways, in order to protect important fish habitat and help keep our rivers healthy, clean, and more resilient to drought.
Our highlighted Riparian Protection project is the recently funded Skookum Creek Acquisition in Whatcom County. The Whatcom Land Trust received a $864,260 grant to purchase approximately 780 acres of forested riparian habitat in the Skookum Creek watershed. Skookum Creek is a vital cold water stream that feeds into the South Fork of the Nooksack River. In the future, the land trust will restore the creek to allow natural ecosystem functions to occur, including growing and recruiting large trees into the creek to form deep cold-water pools for salmonid habitat.
Skookum is a Native American word for “strong,” perhaps given for the high energy rush of water cascading down the stream. Thanks to this WWRP grant funding and other funding sources, Whatcom Land Trust permanently protected Skookum Creek and its clean water, salmon habitat, and forest for generations. To see the beauty of Skookum Creek for yourself, check out this video from the Whatcom Land Trust.