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Nooksack Wild and Scenic Proposal Details

Ruth Creek, a tributary of the North Fork.

Wild and Scenic designation is proposed for over 113 miles of river and stream habitat located in the upper reaches of the North, Middle, and South Fork Nooksack River watersheds.   River and stream sections are chosen based on their special values and classified into one of three categories: Wild, Scenic, or Recreational


Designation would provide the most robust federal protection possible for these last wild reaches of the Nooksack River and it's tributaries.  This will in turn support habitat value and water quality throughout the watershed, providing an important benefit to the millions of dollars of salmon habitat restoration that has been planned or implemented in the watershed. 

The proposed designation includes the following:

  • 21.41 miles of the North Fork Nooksack River, plus 40.67 miles of tributaries

  • 14.44 miles of the Middle Fork Nooksack River, plus 12.42 miles of tributaries

  • 16.13 miles of the South Fork Nooksack River, plus 8.1 miles of tributaries

Designation includes the river or stream reach and a 1/4 mile corridor of habitat on either side.  By law, Wild and Scenic designation does not allow government control of private property or other non-federal lands. 

Proposed Wild and Scenic Rivers and Streams

See the map below for the location of the Nooksack Wild and Scenic Proposal.  There is also a table at the bottom of this page that describes each reach.  Follow this link to open an interactive version of this map in a separate window where you can click on the reaches to pull up details and a photo (where available).  For more maps and a deeper view, see the Nooksack Wild and Scenic Campaign Story Map.


The table to the right details the length of each reach, indicating which tributaries flow into each of the Nooksack Forks. 

The Middle Fork Canyon. Photo: Wendy McDermott

Reach Classifications

The Horseshoe Bend Trail along the North Fork is a popular scenic hike.  Photo: Brett Baunton

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act outlines three possible designation classifications for river and streams:


1. Wild classification includes sections of rivers that are free of impoundments, generally only accessible by trails, and whose watersheds are essentially primitive and unpolluted. 

2. Scenic classification is  for sections of rivers that are free of impoundments and largely primitive and undeveloped, but are accessible in places by roads. (Image courtesy of Brett Baunton) 

Rafting the North Fork.  Photo: Chris Elder

3.Recreational classification is applied to sections of rivers that are readily accessible by roads and that may have some development along the shoreline or undergone some modifications or impoundments in the past.


The map below shows the classification assigned to each of the proposed Wild and Scenic reaches.  For details, click on each reach to pull up a pop-up with more info.

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