|Main source||Divergence of the Lummi from the Nooksack
13 ft (4.0 m)
|River mouth||0 ft (0 m)
|Progression||Lummi River → Lummi Bay → Strait of Georgia|
The Lummi River is the current name for a river channel that was, prior to the beginning of the 20th century, the main outflow channel for the Nooksack River, emptying into Lummi Bay rather than Bellingham Bay, as the current channel of the Nooksack River does. At the time, the channel that currently serves as the main channel of the Nooksack River was restricted by a massive, mile-long, log jam.
In the late 19th century, with an interest in creating a navigable waterway that would empty into Bellingham Bay and be usable beyond Ferndale, the city of Bellingham commissioned the removal of the log jam. Once the log jam was removed the river's flow shifted into the southern channel, and the headwaters of the Lummi River were restricted by a dam, which was later damaged, then replaced by a dam and spillway system, which was also later damaged. Today the Lummi River is currently only fed by water from the Nooksack River during times of high water by a culvert that passes through the levee.
The Lummi River today is characterized by a narrow channel. As its main purpose is now as a high water overflow, it has been artificially channelized and diked to prevent flooding or surrounding fields. It has a low as a result of its short course across glacially ploughed flatlands. The considerable reduction in the flow of the river has allowed erosive processes to strongly affect the Lummi River Delta, which was, formerly, of considerable size, and might have been comparable to the modern Nooksack River Delta in Bellingham Bay.
The channelization and diking of the river resulted in significant new areas of rich farmland, but at the expense of the elimination of an equal or greater acreage of coastal wetlands and damage to salmon habitats. Currently there are proposals investigating restoration of these habitats.
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