Cherry Point Forum

The Cherry Point Forum is an annual forum hosted by the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee to educate community members about environmental issues that affect the Aquatic Reserve. 

Located in Whatcom County, the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve is one of eight Aquatic Reserves in Washington State. Established by DNR on state-owned aquatic lands in Puget Sound, Aquatic Reserves include important biodiversity and aquatic habitat critical to Puget Sound health. Read more.

Cherry Point Forum 2017: Emerging science in marine health

Saturday, October 14th
9:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Bellingham Technical College, Building G, Room 102J
3028 Lindbergh Ave, Bellingham (map)

The Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee is hosting its annual Cherry Point Forum on Saturday, October 14, at Bellingham Technical College. Topics and speakers include:

  • Crude oil’s toxic impacts to salmon and herring
    NOAA's Nat Scholz and John Incardona have done extensive research with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center's Ecotoxicology Program on the impacts of stormwater and petroleum products on fish, particularly heart development. Read more in their paper in Nature: "Very low embryonic crude oil exposures cause lasting cardiac defects in salmon and herring"

  • Declining bull kelp and its critical habitat function
    Bull kelp provides habitat to a variety of species in Puget Sound, but declines in the amount of bull kelp have been observed in many areas. In 2014, the Northwest Straits Commission launched a regional survey of bull kelp to monitor changes in local kelp populations. See the interactive story map.

  • Impact of microplastics on the marine environment
    Simon Fraser University's Leah Bendell, a professor of marine ecology and ecotoxicoloty, is currently researching the abundance of microplastics throughout the Salish Sea and the impacts it may have on the marine environment.

  • Dealing with a future of sea level rise
    How can residents of Puget Sound plan for a future of sea level rise? We'll discuss what to expect, what scientists are seeing, and what solutions we might be able to work on.
The forum is free and open to the public. Coffee and tea is provided, and attendees can either bring $5 for pizza or their own lunch. Participants are encouraged to help make this a waste-free event by bringing their own coffee mug and plate/utensils. 

RSVPing is encouraged, but not required. Contact Eleanor Hines at or 360-733-8307 ext. 213.

Cherry Point Forum 2016

The fourth annual Cherry Point Forum was held October 22, 2016 at Bellingham Technical College. Topics and speakers include:

1. Warming climates in the Pacific Northwest: Are we experiencing a dress rehearsal of the new normal? 
  • Nick Bond is the climatologist for the state of Washington and a research scientist with the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) at the University of Washington. He has a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington. His research includes weather and climate of the Pacific Northwest, and air-sea interactions in the North Pacific pertaining to the marine ecosystem. (presentation and video)
2. Sea star wasting syndrome and how citizen science helps identify climate change impacts in the Salish Sea 
  • Melissa Miner works in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at University of California, Santa Cruz, and is the data manager for the Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network (MARINe). (presentation and video)

  • Eleanor Hines is the lead scientist at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. She has an M.S. in Environmental Toxicology from Western Washington University. She provides staff support for the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee and leads intertidal monitoring and citizen science programs. (presentation and video)
3. Stuck in the middle: The ecology, knowledge gaps or misunderstandings, and issues surrounding forage fish
  • Evelyn Brown is a fisheries analyst with Lummi Nation's Natural Resources Department. She has a Ph.D. in Fisheries and Ocean Science from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Her research focuses on salmon, crab and clams and extends to topics in marine ecology, new forage fish monitoring programs, marine survival, climate change, and resource protection. (presentation and video)
4. Ocean acidification in nearshore habitats of Washington State
  • Micah Horwith is a coastal scientist at the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Aquatic Resources Division. He leads investigations of ocean acidification for the Aquatics Assessment and Monitoring Team. He has a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Washington. His research includes whether seagrasses have the potential to locally counteract ocean acidification, how microscopic shellfish larvae use their habitat, and how juvenile shellfish respond to climate change and acidification. (presentation and video)

Read a wrap-up about the presentations and speakers at the Cherry Point Forum 2016 on our Clean Water Blog.

Cherry Point Forum 2015

The third annual Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Forum was held on October 24, 2015. Topics, speakers, and links to their presentations:

1. Geologic structure, processes and sediment transport at Cherry Point
  • Eric Grossman, Research Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center Tribal Liaison, USGS Natural Hazards Mission Area, Currently located at USGS Western Fisheries Research Center (presentation)
2. Seaweed: Eelgrass, kelp and their interlinkages with physical and biologic processes at Cherry Point
  • Thomas Mumford, Marine Agronomics, LLC, University of Washington Friday Harbor Labs, formerly with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (presentation)
3. Marine birds, combining marine ecology, citizen science, and conservation and resource management in Pacific Northwest waters
  • Julia Parrish, Professor, School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences, Associate Dean, College of the Environment, University of Washington, Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (presentation)
4. Documenting the ecological and population level impacts of sea star wasting syndrome through long-term surveys and citizen science monitoring
  • Melissa Miner, Research Associate UC Santa Cruz Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network (MARINe) Data Manager and WA Regional coordinator (presentation)

Cherry Point Forum 2014

The second annual Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve Forum was held on October 25 2014. Topics, speakers, and links to their presentations:

1. Vessel and rail traffic in the Salish Sea and at Cherry Point
  • Vessel traffic: Todd Hass, PhD, Program Manager, Marine and Nearshore Special Projects, Puget Sound Partnership (video and presentation)

  • Vessel traffic: Captain John Veentjer, Executive Director, Puget Sound Marine Exchange, and retired U.S. Coast Guard (video and presentation)

  • Rail traffic: Dave Byers, Response Manager, Spills Program, Department of Ecology (presentation
2. Role of Department of Natural Resources and the Puget Sound Corps at the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve
  • Birdie Davenport, Aquatic Reserves Program Manager, DNR and Geoff Mayhew, Aquatic Reserve Program Puget SoundCorps Team Lead (video and presentation
3. The role and status of Cherry Point herring.
  • Kurt Stick, Fish Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (video and presentation)

  • Tessa Francis, Puget Sound Institute of University of Washington, Tacoma (video part 1 and part 2)

If you missed the forum, watch the videos!