County Council examines gravel removal options along the Nooksack River

WHATCOM COUNTY, Washington – Gravel removal from the Nooksack River has been a hot topic following the November flooding.

Whatcom County Council began to review the practice that had been practiced during drought months in the past.

Board member Rud Browne gave a presentation on Tuesday, Dec. 7 on the process used to mine gravel along parts of the Willamette River in Oregon.

“There are areas where the river had abandoned this part of the landscape and left significant gravel deposits,” Browne said. “And there are parts of the Nooksack where these gravel deposits could easily be twenty feet above the high water mark.”

He told the Council’s Natural Resources Committee that mining gravel in some of these areas may actually benefit the health of the river.

This happens when the excavation creates a holding area that can help alleviate flooding, but also retain water that can flow back into the river during the dry months.

And he says mining gravel in this way can help save farmland that would otherwise be dug for gravel quarries.

“I hope this will result in a willingness by all parties to consider all options that will lead us to a combination of flood risk management and preservation and protection or enhancement of salmon habitat. “said Browne.

The council suspended a resolution to remove barriers to removing gravel from the river until all interested parties, including local tribes, can participate in the discussion.

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