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Posted on November 2, 2021 at 4:22 PM by Allan Warren
Throughout the Pacific Northwest on October 16th, nearly 100-organizations joined the Puget Sound Conservation District caucus to host 85-events that support the recovery of endangered Southern Resident Orca Whales. Along with Congressmembers Kim Schrier and Derek Kilmer, over 1,900-participants engaged in restoring vital salmon habitat, picking up trash, removing invasive weeds, or simply learning about the challenges facing this iconic species and how they could help. These combined efforts of well over 4,300 volunteer hours resulted in over 22-acres of habitat restored, another 17-acres of invasive weeds removed, and over 13,500 native plants installed.
“I had the opportunity to volunteer for Orca Recovery Day planting native vegetation and removing invasive species at the beautiful Riverview Park in Kent," said Congressmember Kim Schrier. “Thank you to the local orgs and the City of Kent for holding this event to help local fish like the Chinook salmon which are a main food source for Resident orca!”
Not only are Chinook salmon the primary food source for the Southern Resident Orcas, they are also endangered here in the Pacific Northwest. With the population growth of the Puget Sound region over the past 60-years, much of the habitat that salmon rely on to thrive has been degraded, lost, or blocked by things like dams and culverts. The single most effective action to take to help recover salmon, and therefore Orcas, is to restore the natural process of local streams and rivers.
“It was a true honor to celebrate Orca Recovery Day and see the legislature's funding allocation put to good use,” said state Representative Tara Simmons. “The Dickerson Creek Project will allow for more salmon recovery which is important to save Orcas in our region, but also to honor tribal rights. I am inspired by the dedicated conservation staff who work so hard for our community, and it was wonderful to spend time with them. I encourage all policymakers to participate in Orca Recovery Day next year. The interactions with our constituents and being outdoors in the community is good medicine for all of us.”
Coordinating over 100 partners across the region is no small task and requires a lot of support. Orca Recovery Day is supported by sponsors such as the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, the Puget Sound Partnership, The Nature Conservancy, the Washington State Conservation Commission, and many other local businesses, foundations, and Tribes.
“Bringing partners and individuals together around stewardship that improves the lives of vulnerable species, and by ecosystem connection, vulnerable people, was super meaningful,” reflects Kelly McCaffrey, Puget Sound Conservation District and Orca Recovery Day Coordinator. “On Orca Recovery Day we have common concerns, share a common place, and work together to address a common goal. I hope it continues to grow and that participants learn and feel more connected year in year out.”
In addition to the incredible on-the-ground impact all of these partners, sponsors, and volunteers had, Orca Recovery Day serves as a powerful outreach tool to connect people throughout the region to the recovery effort. Partners reached over 1.3 million people throughout the region explaining the crisis facing the Southern Resident Orca Whales and instilling the message that each of us can help in the effort to restore them.
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