The Nooksack River Stewards Program, in partnership with the Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, educates residents and visitors about wild salmon and responsible stewardship in the Nooksack River Watershed. All program initiatives aim to foster hope for residents and showcase for visitors how collective action can result in progressive salmon recovery goals.
In the summer of 2019, 7 Interns, along with NSEA Program staff, engaged 3,628 people through various programming, including Guided River Hikes, an informational outreach booth at the Glacier Public Service Center, and family-friendly events. Additionally, they collaborated with U.S. Forest Service Staff to remove over 1,200 pounds of invasive vegetation from riparian corridors. As one intern reflected, “getting to share what I learn and growing as an environmental scientist is the most fulfilling thing I could be doing with my time.”
In the summer of 2020, we needed to pivot our efforts to reach residents and visitors safely in the midst of a global pandemic. Despite reducing programming, we were able to reach 726 people and shifted our focus to increased restoration efforts in riparian corridors, removing over 3,400 pounds of invasive vegetation. Instead of leading Guided River Hikes, Campfire stories, and Fishtival, we recorded a Virtual Hike including macroinvertebrate and water quality sampling. We also recorded a series of short Stewardship videos called “Adventures with Sammy” featuring our mascot Sammy the Salmon. We supplemented with pop up docent stations, which we facilitated mostly at the Horseshoe Bend Trailhead, but also along the gravel bar of the trail next to the Nooksack River.
We set up a similar docent station in Acme along the South Fork of the Nooksack River and talked with rafters. Most of our contacts were reached via South Fork outreach. As for the interns, we pivoted by focusing on the above modified programming along with expanded professional development workshops, more focus on restoration projects, and completing side projects.