BELLINGHAM, Wash. — At Boundary Bay Brewery we’re proud to partner with the Bellingham Traverse each year to release our annual Traverse IPA and tell the story behind why we are thinking about more than beer.
The Bellingham Traverse’s foundation is deeply rooted in the intrepid journey salmon take every year to spawn – and the multi-sport race encapsulates that for each participant. We are inspired by the powerful lessons we can learn from the salmon and how these teachings can bring us together as a community.
Being partners with the Bellingham Traverse for many years has led us to think critically about the fragile complexities of “community.” On a mission to explore this more deeply, we made a film short directed by Keaton Urling-Ehinger to discover the coexistence between the adventure, the salmon’s journey, and our sense of community.
The connection between the Salmon’s Journey, the Traverse adventure race, and Boundary Bay Brewery’s mission is stronger than one may think at first glance.
Upon hearing the word ‘community,’ many would think of the people and the neighborhood in their immediate surroundings. However, our existence and sense of belonging are bolstered by ecological variables that allow for a comfortable equilibrium that we enjoy. In return, we must strive to support the environment – creating a sustainable and symbiotic relationship of sorts.
Native flora and fauna play a large part in the health of our community. The trees we build our homes with also provide rest areas and shaded spawning grounds for salmon. Once the salmon spawn and perish, their composting bodies nourish the trees. The circle of life, although often unnoticed, plays a massive role in our daily lives and we ought to feel grateful.
These salmon don’t have it easy. Each year, they can travel thousands of miles to return to their original spawning ground. They face many obstacles along the way – including natural predation, fishing, habitat loss, and powerful waterfalls that they must conquer in order to push forward.
While following this story, we learned of the many dilemmas salmon face on their expedition home. Many of these obstacles can be remediated by humans, as we are the cause for much of their adversity.
One local obstacle for salmon is the Middle Fork Nooksack River Diversion Dam. This installation blocks 16 miles of potential spawning grounds for three species of native fish including Spring Chinook salmon.
We had the pleasure of meeting with Lummi Nation’s own Felix Solomon. He provided a lot of insight into his community’s relationship with salmon. Solomon is a woodcarver who created the piece featured in our film titled “It’s Mine.” Going further than the issue of overfishing, his piece demonstrates the internal conflict many of us experience in putting salmon on the table.
We may never know how arduous it is to accomplish the mission of the salmon. What we can do is reinvest profits from the race back into the community as a whole and raise awareness to the fragility of our amazing ecosystem in a push to support it.
In an effort to better our community, The Bellingham Traverse Race proceeds are used to maintain healthy native flora and fauna, to help doctors prescribe time outside to people in need, to bring the recreation economy together to accomplish more, and to maintain Fairhaven Park and it’s intricate trail systems. The race connects the dots within our community and brings them surface-level for us to digest and be a part of.
When we examine the determinants of the salmon as a species, we gain inspiration and come together to facilitate the health of our community. We are proud to play a role in this event and we are ecstatic to share our film short with you.
As we enjoy our latest batch of Traverse IPA, we are thankful for our salmon and the ecosystem they dwell in. After all, our beer is brewed from the same waters they swim in after it enters the Lake Whatcom Watershed. Don’t forget about the Bellingham Traverse Race on September 14th, and make sure to enjoy a Traverse IPA to get in the spirit of the event.