Spring is here! Temperatures are getting warmer, wet areas are starting to dry out, and vegetation is starting to sprout and bloom.
Even with these changes, we are still in the rainy season and the frequent rainfall carries a high risk for pollution transport. This can mean bacteria getting into our creeks, rivers, and bays. During late 2020 and early 2021, high fecal bacteria levels were measured in portions of Drayton Harbor and Portage Bay shellfish growing areas. Drayton Harbor supports commercial, recreational, and tribal harvesting opportunities. Portage Bay is home to one of the Lummi Nation’s important commercial, ceremonial, and subsistence shellfish growing areas located on the Lummi Indian Reservation. These recent increases in bacteria levels may have set-back hard-won efforts over the past several years to improve water quality in the areas and recover year-round shellfish harvest. Community-wide action is needed now to reverse these trends.
Luckily, spring is a great time to start the projects you have been planning all winter. At Whatcom Conservation District (CD), we can help you with free and confidential farm planning advice. We can also loan you a manure spreader or poultry processing equipment and connect you with rebates and grants for your farm improvement dreams. Contacting the CD is the first step towards your $200 rebate for barn gutters, fencing or heavy use area footing. For more information, visit our Landowner Tools page or call us at (360) 526-2381.
A couple simple actions on your farm or property can go a long way towards protecting water quality:
- Assess your pastures before allowing spring grazing and throughout the spring. To get the most from your grass this season, wait for 6 inches of healthy grass and remove animals once they have grazed grass to 3 inches.
- Keep animals out of wet areas by checking your fencing or installing seasonal fencing. This is good for both the land and your animals! Rebates are available for purchasing seasonal fencing.
- Follow seasonal manure setbacks. Whether you’re applying manure or grazing animals, these setbacks protect waterways from bacteria runoff.
- Join us for our Virtual Pasture Tours! Tune in for five episodes to learn how Whatcom County farmers manage their pastures to increase yields, improve soil health, and grow a high quality forage for their animals. https://www.whatcomcd.org/speaker-series.
Everyone can do their part! Find more spring tips for pets owners, septic systems, boats, RVs, and living with urban wildlife and help protect Whatcom waterways from poo-llution. Learn about where poo-llution comes from, how it impacts our water quality, and how community action has helped in our spring press release. Thank you for being a part of our community solutions to clean water!