Huxley College Graduate and Undergraduate Publications

College Affiliation

Huxley College of the Environment

Department or Program Affiliation

Department of Environmental Studies


The purpose of this Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is to analyze the probable significant environmental impacts associated with annexation and increased development of the Yew Street corridor. The proposal will encompass the northern Yew Street UGA and southern Yew Street UGA Reserve. This document evaluates the impacts on elements of the natural and built environment. The most significant impact in the natural environment would be the degradation of water quality due to an increase in impervious surfaces. Two alternatives are presented, as well as required and recommended measures to mitigate significant impacts to the natural and built environments. Proposed Action Yew Street Associates have proposed a reinstatement of the UGA Reserve into UGA status and annexation of the UGAs into Bellingham city limits. Housing density within the entire UGA would increase from 800 dwelling units to 2169-3169 dwelling units. The City of Bellingham would need to provide proper utilities such as sewer, water and gas. Public services would also need to be provided, which include transportation, police, and fire services. All upgrades to services would have to be concurrent and satisfy the regulations set forth by the Growth Management Act and the City of Bellingham's Comprehensive Plan. Summary of Significant Impacts Annexation and increased development of the Yew Street corridor would have several significant environmental impacts. The proposed site influences two watersheds that offer important ecosystem services as well as recreational. The northern Yew Street UGA is within the Whatcom Creek watershed. The southern Yew Street UGA Reserve is within the Padden Creek and Lake Padden watershed. Increased development in the Yew Street corridor would affect all three water bodies. Increasing development will increase the amount of impervious surfaces. Impervious surfaces effectively generate increased surface flow after precipitation events. Increased surface flow carries with it sediments, nutrients and pathogens. These processes encourage adverse impacts on water quality. All of the influenced water bodies are currently affected by anthropogenic activity. Annexation of the two UGAs would significantly increase impervious surfaces, which would further degrade water quality and possibly inhibit their natural functions. Mitigation measures may be sufficient to minimize adverse environmental impacts. Measures are required by the Whatcom County Code (WCC) within the Lake Padden watershed, which include Special Stormwater Districts, Water Resources Special Management Areas and Water Resource Protection Overlay District. These three designations recognize the sensitivity of Lake Padden and require special development techniques and stricter stormwater control. We recommend implementation of Low-Impact Development (LID), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Built Green Housing techniques. These mitigation measures aim to decrease impacts on the natural hydrologic cycle, reduce clearing of natural vegetation and promote the sustainability of development. The proposed action, even after the above required and recommended mitigation measures are implemented, will have significant adverse environmental impacts on the natural and built environment. The ecological condition of the Lake Padden watershed is of the highest concern. We recommend that a no-action alternative be taken to ensure no further degradation of water quality in the affected watersheds. We understand that population growth will occur, but less sensitive alternative sites may be better candidates for development.

Document Type

Environmental Impact Assessment

Subject – LCSH (for OAI)

Land use--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Zoning--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Regional planning--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Housing development--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Environmental impact analysis--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Environmental impact analysis--Washington (State)--Bellingham

Geographic Coverage

Bellingham (Wash.)


Environmental impact statement


Western Washington University


Winter 2012

First Advisor

Bodensteiner, Leo R.,

OCLC Number



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Environmental Studies