The northernmost county in the Northwest Straits, Whatcom County has 118 miles of shoreline that include Birch Bay, Drayton Harbor and Chuckanut Bay, Bellingham's historic industrial and urban waterfront and Lummi Island. A population of more than 200,000 includes the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe. Timber, fishing and agriculture remain important to the county’s economy.
Whatcom MRC's 17 members include scientists, commercial fishermen, recreational divers and clam harvesters, conservationists, natural resource managers, elected officials and local government staff, the Nooksack Tribe and Lummi Nation. They maintain a strong interest in water quality and restoration of local beaches by removing creosoted debris. The MRC has an admirable track record of collaboration with the City of Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Department of Ecology and Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
In 2015 the MRC trained 48 volunteers in water quality sampling for North Chuckanut Bay. Volunteers collected 12 samples to date, and over time will collect enough to allow the Department of Health to make a determination on reopening the shellfish bed to harvest. In addition to studying water quality the MRC conducted clam surveys in the area, compiling data with results from previous years. Surveys were conducted with the help of 75 third-graders, who were mentored by students from Bellingham Technical College.
Community outreach is a strength of the Whatcom MRC, and is an important tool to reach audiences at local schools, from elementary through university and beyond. The MRC hosted events from Point Whitehorn in Birch Bay to Lummi Island and Chuckanut Bay, reaching hundreds of local residents, visitors and project volunteers emphasizing water quality messages and enlisting community support for the MRC’s work.
- Clam Surveys - Conducted clam surveys in North Chuckanut Bay, compiling data with results from previous years.Surveys were conducted with the help of 75 third-graders, who were mentored by students from Bellingham Technical College.
- Boulevard Park Intertidal Monitoring - measured and monitored diversity, distribution, and abundance of intertidal species within the park beaches
- Shellfish Water Quality Monitoring Program - trained 48 volunteers in water quality sampling, who conducted monthly sampling at 12 sites
- Outreach - Hosted and co-sponsored several events in 2015 including their popular speaker series and Whatcom Water Weeks, reaching hundreds of people