Habitat Improvement

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Oct 27

South Prairie Creek Preserve's Orca Recovery Day Story

Posted on October 27, 2023 at 12:49 PM by Gracie DeMeo

Orca Recovery Day Impacts at South Prairie Creek Preserve

The Pierce Conservation District’s Habitat Program participated in the Puget Sound’s annual Orca Recovery Day. 25 amazing volunteers joined us in our efforts to bring awareness and aid to the resident orca population at South Prairie Creek Preserve. Staff and community members came together, boots on the ground, and planted a total of 283 trees. We extend our deepest gratitude to all that joined us at South Prairie Creek Preserve. We could not do it without your help and support! For more information about our efforts: South Prairie Creek Preserve.

Seven children holding trees posing with Executive Director Dana Coggon in an Orca costume.

South Prairie Creek Preserve volunteers posing with Dana Coggon (PCD executive director) and some precious trees!

The Interconnected Cycle

Planting trees provides several benefits to salmon and the surrounding environment. Tree planting not only offers shelter for the several bird species found on site, but also benefits salmon habitat, prevents erosion, adds complexity to the river, and acts as a natural carbon sink. When Chinook fry emerges from their redds, they often find refuge in cold water pools to hide while developing. The overhanging vegetation, such as trees, provides shade and contributes to water cooling. Additionally, macroinvertebrates fall into the water from overhanging vegetation and offer food to both birds and fry. Juvenile Chinook salmon will spend approximately one year in freshwater, then venture off into the ocean for their adult lives. When adult Chinook salmon return to their natal spawning grounds and die, their carcasses give rich nutrients to the soil and aid in tree growth. 

Restoring critical salmon bearing habitat mutually benefits several salmon species as well as our Puget Sound resident orcas. Orcas primarily feed on Chinook salmon, so their continued presence is crucial for the orca population. Both Chinook salmon and orcas are considered endangered and depend on one another for survival. We were all able to make a great contribution at Orca Recovery Day and hope to see you all again next year!