Proposal to Change Offensive Name of Whatcom County Creek Among 5 Approved by Committee on Geographic Names
News Date: 
October 29, 2019

Naming of creek and mountains in Clallam County, creeks in Chelan County also forwarded to Board of Natural Resources; four other proposals pass first review

The Washington State Committee on Geographic Names approved five proposals, including one to rename a Whatcom County creek in honor of a historical Nooksack Indian Tribe village near its source, during its meeting Tuesday at the Natural Resources Building in Olympia.
The proposal to rename Squaw Creek near Lynden to Páatstel Creek, submitted by the Nooksack Tribe, was joined by a proposal to name Misty Creek and Misty Mountains in Clallam County.
Names approved by the committee are forwarded to the Board of Natural Resources (acting as the Washington State Board on Geographic Names) for final decision. Names approved by the Board are published in the Washington Administrative Code and forwarded to the United States Board on Geographic Names for federal consideration along with the state’s recommendations.
Here are brief summaries of the proposals that have been approved after final consideration:

Clallam County

Nason Bach and Wald Bach are the proposed names of two unnamed creeks 20 miles from Leavenworth, inspired by expanding the German culture in Leavenworth to the surrounding areas within the postal code.

Clallam County

Misty Creek and Misty Mountains are the proposed names for an unnamed creek and a mountain range near Blyn in Clallam County, inspired by the often-misty weather in the area.

Whatcom County

Páatstel Creek is the proposed new name for Squaw Creek near Lynden in Whatcom County. The Nooksack Tribe proposed the new name after the historical village that was once located near the creek’s headwaters.
Four additional proposals were approved for final consideration:
An unnamed bay on Mercer Island in King County would be named Riley Cove in honor of Huston Riley, the U.S. soldier in Robert Capa’s famous photograph of the D-Day invasion of Normandy in World War II. Riley lived his entire 90-year life along the cove before passing away in 2011. The proposal was put forward by the commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post on the island.
An unnamed creek on San Juan Island would be named Rabbit Chase Creek for the abundant population of the mammals on the island, and farmers’ use of the creek to capture the critters before selling their meat in Seattle markets. Rabbit hunting was once so popular on the island that it was featured in a 1964 article in Sports Illustrated.
An unnamed swamp near Granite Falls in Snohomish County would be named Andy Holland Marsh in honor of the former U.S. Forest Service forester and professor at Everett Community College who was a lifelong Washingtonian.
A valley in Stevens and Spokane counties near Nine Mile Falls would be renamed Barney Kolker Canyon, correcting a spelling error for a feature named for a homesteader in the area. Kolker lived in the area until dying in 1935, although a 1979 entry from the U.S. Geologic Survey misspelled his name.
Names approved for final consideration by the committee are opened for more public comment before the next meeting.

Web links

Summaries of each proposal, its location, proponents and opportunities to comment are on the DNR website at The applications include maps and photos from the areas.

Washington State Committee on Geographic Names

The seven-member committee of volunteers advises the State Board on Geographic Names, which is authorized by state law to establish the official names for the lakes, mountains, streams, places, towns, and other geographic features. The committee, which meets at least twice a year, is chaired by a representative of Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. The committee includes representatives of Washington State tribes, the State Librarian, and the Director of the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and three members from the public appointed by Franz.
Kenny Ocker
Communications Manager
Washington State Department of Natural Resources