Shewmake succeeds in efforts to have funds for Fishtrap Creek erosion fix included in state House construction budget

OLYMPIA – A thorny problem that literally cuts through the heart of Lynden is moving toward a win-win solution. State Rep. Sharon Shewmake is pushing for funding in the state capital budget that would jump-start efforts to stop the erosion on Fishtrap Creek of private property that is occurring as a result of culvert removal upstream.

Shewmake (D-42nd, Bellingham) says there’s bipartisan support for the funding, which  would use green best-management practices to protect property belonging to Richard Nymeyer and his neighbors while improving fish habitat along the river, which is considered the premier steelhead salmon stream of lowland Whatcom County.

“We wanted to make sure the problem was solved responsibly and using best available science so we didn’t create a problem for others further downstream,” Shewmake said. “We’ve worked really hard to find a good partner for the project and the Whatcom Conservation District has stepped up. They have the relationships with private landowners and the know-how to get the job done. I’m confident that we can stop the damage, save the river, and make it healthier for fish at the same time.”

George Boggs, executive director of the Whatcom Conservation District, shares Shewmake’s assessment that this is a tough situation, as well as her optimism.

“This is not as easy a fix as some might think,” Boggs said. “If there isn’t some careful modeling and use of modern ‘soft’ bank armoring techniques, the problem could be passed down the creek to other landowners like a cue ball off a pool table. This funding from the Legislature could come through at just the right time to help us find a solution that is both forward-thinking and fish-friendly.”

Shewmake’s request for funding was conditionally approved by the House Capital Budget Committee.  That version of the budget is expected to be voted on by the full House Wednesday, April 3.