Christine Woodward is the chair for the Portage Bay Shellfish Protection District.
“I think one of the first and foremost things about the partnership between farms and salmon is respect,” she said.
Farmers play a very important role in Whatcom County, she added. They provide our food source, they provide a way of life, and they ground us in where we came from.
“What we all need is clean water. Clean water for our fish, clean water for our farms, clean water for our people,” Woodward said. As we well know, everybody lives downstream. We all need to work together for clean water, and water for all.”
An enormous amount of development is happening within Whatcom County.
“When I first started doing water quality work back in 2000, out in the county there were no housing developments along Badger Road,” Woodward said. “That was all farmland. That growth not only affects our rural way of life, but it also affects our fish. If we are paving over and developing our watersheds and our tributaries we don’t have a viable location for salmon to be able to come home.”
Woodward stressed the need to be able to keep those. Farmers have been working stringently to improve water quality working with the WIDs, the Conservation District, and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association to be able to do restoration.
“If we continue to support our farmers and support them keeping our water clean and work together as jointly as we can I think we’re going to be able to come through this in a very good manner,” Woodward said. “We were able to do it once with a cooperative effort of everybody in the room, and we can do it again.”
She says everybody needs to be on board.
“We need both – we need fish, we need farms. We need to figure out more ways to be able to work together and I think we can make it happen. We can have clean water for everybody, for fish and for farms. I think we can make it happen. We can do this together. Let’s all join up.”
To learn more, please visit fishneedfarms.org.