BP West Coast Products, LLC - BP Cherry Point Refinery

Project #: 16973  –   Updated: November 06, 2015

Project Summary

BP’s BP Cherry Point Refinery is located in Whatcom County, Washington, along the eastern shoreline of the Strait of Georgia, south of Birch Bay and Point Whitehorn. The area surrounding the site is dominated by rural and agricultural land, but also includes Birch Bay State Park and the Lake Terrell Wildlife Area managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Historically used for commercial agriculture and rural residential uses, 1,000 acres of the 3,500-acre site are now managed for public recreation as part of the Whatcom Wildlife Area through cooperation with the WDFW...

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Location (by county):
Whatcom County (WA)

Watersheds:
Strait of Georgia

Congressional Districts:
WA District 01

Bird Conservation Regions:
Northern Pacific Rainforest

USFWS Regions:
Pacific Region

Public Access

Site Name Publicly Accessible
Project Site 1 No

Full Project Description

BP’s BP Cherry Point Refinery is located in Whatcom County, Washington, along the eastern shoreline of the Strait of Georgia, south of Birch Bay and Point Whitehorn. The area surrounding the site is dominated by rural and agricultural land, but also includes Birch Bay State Park and the Lake Terrell Wildlife Area managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Historically used for commercial agriculture and rural residential uses, 1,000 acres of the 3,500-acre site are now managed for public recreation as part of the Whatcom Wildlife Area through cooperation with the WDFW. 1,828 acres of BP Cherry Point Refinery are actively managed for wildlife through their program that has been certified since 2009.

Historic logging and agricultural activities reduced the function of the wetland areas, which provided the team with the opportunity to restore large areas of contiguous wetlands. The team has created 44 acres of wetland and restored an additional 50 acres. Of the original 94 acres, 22 acres were delineated for mitigation requirements. The team has gone above and beyond these requirements through their work with the Washington Department of Ecology to develop a landscape approach to wetland restoration, which takes into account the watershed processes of the land. In 2009, over 375 habitat features were installed including downed logs, artificial snags, and brush shelters. The team created an additional six acres of wetland and enhanced 121 acres at the Cogeneration/Facilities Project Restoration area. This area was designed to compensate for future impacts associated with construction activity at the site. In 2009 and 2010 a total of 73,800 native plants were installed. The restoration and creation of wetland habitat in this area will provide enhanced habitat for species such as waterfowl, shorebirds, aquatic invertebrates, amphibians, and songbirds. The increased diversity of vegetation will provide increased forage, cover, and access to surface water.

As a result of the wetland restoration project, amphibian populations began increasing on-site. The team created a citizen science program that documents amphibian species and populations on-site and raises public awareness about the importance of proper habitat management activities. The monitoring program began in 2013 with help from Washington State Parks, Whatcom County Amphibian Monitoring Project, the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA), and the Chums of Terrell Creek to broaden the program in 2014. Volunteers are required to go through training focused on identifying species, and field surveys are conducted by teams of volunteers over a series of three field dates in late winter and early spring.

The team partnered with NSEA to restore stream habitat along Terrell Creek for salmonids and other wildlife by re-grading portions of the stream channel, installing large woody debris to enhance stream structure, adding native woody plants, controlling non-native invasive plants and monitoring water quality and collecting salmon spawning data. To date, over 6,000 trees and shrubs have been added along the creek to enhance wildlife habitat and to shade the area. Fences were also installed along the stream to prevent beavers and deer from browsing the area and disrupting the stream. Surveys of spawning ground in an area of the stream occur every second to ten days during spawning season.

The site also provides appropriate habitat for the great blue heron which according to the WDFW is a "species of greatest conservation need". The site granted a 180-acre conservation easement to the Whatcom Land Trust to protect the Birch Bay great blue heron colony, one of the three largest colonies in the Salish Sea region. In 1997, a heron monitoring program was instituted to assess the quality of heron habitat, and is maintained to this day by the team.

The marine shorelines of the site provide habitat for many wildlife species including belted kingfisher, osprey, harbor seal, Barrow's goldeneye, double crested cormorant, and the bald eagle. The team monitors the shoreline along Cherry Point Reach of the Georgia Strait to document and assess the conditions of the intertidal and nearshore habitats. Monitoring of these areas includes beach walk surveys and aerial photo assessments conducted every four years.

Maintaining the agricultural activities on the site including grain and hay production not only contributes to the local farmer, but also provides for wildlife species such as raptors that forage for rodents in these areas. In order to decrease the erosion and water pollution that is typical of agriculture, the site has a Custom Farm Conservation Plan that assists the refinery in managing these agricultural lands. The site has about 1,500 acres in agricultural use, 20 of which are planted at recommendation by WDFW with step-toe barley, which provides winter forage for waterfowl. The remaining acreage is maintained as grassland habitat.

The team has also been involved with improving fish passage at Lake Terrell. Starting in 2003, all fish passage barriers were removed around the lake except a WDFW managed dam. The team helped design and reconstruct the existing dam and over 600 linear feet of channelized streambed. They also helped install riparian plantings and reintroduce chum salmon. Construction was finished in 2012, and the following year wild chum salmon were observed spawning in the improved channel and swimming over the reconstructed dam.

Actions

Project Actions
Other: Wildlife at Work Show/Hide details
Improve the function of an existing wetland Show/Hide details
Plant native riparian, wetland or aquatic vegetation Show/Hide details
Other: Conservation Certification Show/Hide details
Restore or re-establish wetland hydrology Show/Hide details
Improve in-stream fish habitat Show/Hide details
Create/improve spawning/nesting habitat Show/Hide details
Plant native trees and/or shrubs, herbs, forbs, grasses Show/Hide details
Improve fish passage Show/Hide details

Outcomes

Is the success of this project's actions being monitored?   No/Unknown

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Organization

BP
(Company/Business)

Primary Contact

Certification Department
Wildlife Habitat Council
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