Friday July 14, 2023


The Whatcom County Council has banned inner-tubing on the South Fork of the Nooksack River to protect endangered Chinook salmon there.

The shallow river is a popular summer spot for inner tubers, paddleboarders, and other flotation-device users.

Hundreds of people float up to 8 miles down the warm, clear river.

But the South Fork has gotten so warm in recent summers that many Chinook salmon are dying before they can spawn.

In the summer of 2021, an estimated 2,500 Chinook salmon died in the South Fork before they could spawn, felled by heat-loving microbes (bacteria, parasites, and algae). Biologist Treva Coe with the Nooksack Indian Tribe natural resources department said the tribe doesn’t have a full estimate for 2022 yet, but at least 100 Chinooks died before spawning in the South Fork in 2022.

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