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North Fork Nooksack Race: Important Information for Paddlers

Posted: 10/08/2002
by Thomas O'Keefe

Washington Kayak Club October 11-13, 2002
North Fork Nooksack River Slalom Race
Background Information

Why is the Forest Service (FS) permitting the Nooksack Slalom Race which is located within a portion of the watercraft closure/chinook salmon protection area?

The Nooksack Slalom Race, which has been occurring annually since 1982, is authorized by special use permit by the FS to conduct the Slalom Race in a portion of the NF Nooksack River. The racecourse includes a small portion (<150 yards) of the 2-1/2 mile long watercraft/chinook protection closure area (Exhibit A). The closure was implemented in August to protect spawning NF Nooksack River spring chinook, which are listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

[ Additional information on the closure].

The closure area begins at the State Route 542 (Mt. Baker Highway) Bridge (@ Highway Mile Post 35.29), near the Douglas-Fir Campground and Horseshoe Bend Trailhead, at River Mile 59.4 and ends downstream at the FS Boundary approximately 1/4 mile upstream from the mouth of Cornell Creek at River Mile 56.5 (closure map).

The slalom racecourse put-in is located approximately 300 yards upstream from the SR542 Bridge, just off the Horseshoe Bend Trail, and the take-out point is located approximately 150 yards downstream of the Bridge next to Douglas-Fir Campsite Number 21. The kayak racecourse is located between any known chinook redds (nests) in this reach of the NF Nooksack River.

The existing Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Special Closure for the North Fork Nooksack River (Order No. 06-05-01-2002-001) part 2 allows this activity since it has "been determined by the agency to have no effect on protected species and specifically exempted by written approval of the Forest Supervisor."

The Nooksack Slalom Race is operated under a special use authorization from the FS to the Washington Kayak Club (WKC) and is subject to the terms of the permit. Use of the river below campsite Number 22, in the east-loop of the Douglas-fir Campground, is prohibited except for emergencies. Spawner surveys conducted by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff indicate that no chinook redds were found between the SR542 Bridge and the west loop of the Douglas-Fir Campground.

The race director works closely with the FS and WDFW staff prior to the event. FS and WDFW staffs are on-site during most of the event; from set-up to takedown.

The event will take place over one weekend (October 11-13, 2002).

The race director understands the importance of minimizing effects on redds of all salmonid species and understands that disturbing chinook redds may constitute a 'take' under National Marine Fisheries Service definitions.

Conservation measures limiting impacts on federally listed fish are part of the permit.

The permit record indicates that the event has been conducted safely and professionally since at least 1982.

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Washington Kayak Club
League of Northwest Whitewater Racers

Jennie Goldberg
3048 62ND AVE SW
SEATTLE, WA 98116-2706