Wild and Scenic

Protecting the Nooksack



WHAT: “Wild Nooksack River” Travelogue
WHEN: 7pm Thurs., Oct. 18
WHERE: Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St.
COST: Suggested donation is $5
INFO: http://www.whatcommuseum.org

WHAT: Cascadia Dreams
WHEN: 7:30pm Sat. Oct 20
WHERE: Jansen Art Center, Lynden
COST: $20
INFO: http://www.jansenartcenter.org

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

If you were trying to reach photographer and outdoor activist Brett Baunton last week to discuss his ongoing efforts in helping to get the upper Nooksack River protected as a part of the National Wild and Scenic River System, he likely didn’t respond because he was off the grid on a journey to the actual headwaters of the North Fork of the body of water he’s championing.

The river-crossing, bushwhacking adventure was a challenge, he says, but well worth it.

“We saw no one else (except a mountain goat) in three days, which is now a rare thing in the hills,” Baunton says of the recent hike into the Nooksack Cirque. “The scenery and stars were epic and we found peace.”

In coming days, Baunton’s schedule will be much more transparent. On Thurs., Oct. 18, he’ll be leading a “Wild Nooksack River” Travelogue at Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall, and Saturday night will see him joining Lance Ekhart, John D’Onofrio, and flutist Gary Stroutsos for a “Cascadia Dreams” multimedia presentation at Lynden’s Jansen Art Center. Interested parties can also peruse his related photography exhibit on display through October at Aslan Brewing Co.

Although it will take an act of Congress to list the Nooksack as a part of the National Wild and Scenic River System—a designation in place since 1968 that preserves certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations—Baunton says showing strong community support for the idea is the first step toward getting a bill in front of the governing bodies.

Aside from signing a petition in person at Thursday’s event (or online at http://www.wildnooksack.com), Baunton says supporting local and regional environmental groups already working on restoring and protecting the Nooksack River—like Whatcom Land Trust and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA)—is also important.

Additionally, he points out that the proposal wouldn’t take away any property or fishing rights already regulated by state and local agencies. The proposal for the upper reaches of the river would mean new dams couldn’t be built, and that there would be a quarter-mile buffer from development in the riparian zone along its banks.

Since 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, as well as the North Cascades National Park, Baunton thinks it’s the perfect time for positive change to protect the upper stretch of the river.

“I will be showing all the outstanding qualities that qualify the Nooksack to be included in the National Wild and Scenic River System,” Baunton says of the Oct. 18 event merging photography with conservation. “Scenic beauty, biodiversity of plants and animals, salmon and eagles, recreation opportunities, and wild, free-flowing water.”

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