December 20, 2019 3 min read

Orca Recovery Day: Community Reforestation Highlights

Orca Recovery Day is a wrap! We had a great group of volunteers all over the Pacific Northwest come together to plant trees to benefit orca habitat with us and our amazing partners at Promise the Pod

If you haven't been following our orca project you may be wondering what trees have to do with orca whales. The answer is a lot! In the Pacific Northwest, the orca population named the J podhas been significantly decreasing due to lack of food and harm being caused to their surrounding habitat. The primary food source for orca whales is Chinook salmon, and trees help restore the streams and rivers in which salmon spawn, in turn benefiting the orcas. What happens on land definitely affects life below water.

With the help of over 900 volunteers we were able to get 6,664 trees in the ground along with 1,750 plants and shrubs! Volunteers didn't stop there, up to 1,400 pounds of solid waste was removed to make room for young trees.

Here are just a few of the individual event highlights:

In Poulsbo, WA volunteers helped plant 400 plants and clear 4,000 square feet of invasive blackberries. The plant species that were selected trap chemicals and fertilizers, preventing them from reaching the Puget Sound.

In Independence, OR a student group from an Oregon State University geography class along with some other community members used live cuttings so that they could learn about the botany of riparian plants and how a plant can grow roots from just a little stick. They planted 240 trees including willow, dogwoood, douglas fir and pacific ninebark. Volunteers had a visitor from a Great White Egret which was an inspiring reminder of all the wildlife that lives in the area!

The volunteers in Pullman, WA were tree planting warriors! They didn't let the downpour of rain stop them. They planted 200 native shrubs and trees along Paradise Creek. 

In Lake Stevens, WA volunteers posed a good question, "why do orcas need to eat salmon?" We know that historically Chinook are the largest salmon, so it makes sense to go after those big ones. The question helped make the connection between the importance of healthy habitats and wildlife!

In Tumwater, WA volunteers did invasive plant removal along the shoreline areas and planted native shoreline plants. Everyone from the area knows about the big salmon run that comes through the Budd Inlet. People put signs up in their yards announcing when the salmon are arriving!

In collaboration with Upper Columbia United Tribes in Spokane, WA volunteers and a group of kids from The Salish School - which is a Salish language school - did garbage clean up in Lake Spokane. There's a lot of garbage in the river which comes down from the city. A couple of tribal boats hauled garbage up from the river. The kids also brought orca and salmon art that they made in school, and got to hold a Painted turtle!

The Girl Scouts rocked Orca Recovery day in Poulsbo, WA where they had a workshop at the SEA Discovery Center. They conducted a "sound in water" investigation using a hydrophone to demonstrate how sound pollution impacts whales. To conclude the day all the girls built a human orca mural that included 140 people standing in a grid shaped like an orca with a drone above taking photos!

Many people standing in a formation of a orca whale

A special thanks to all of our on-the-ground partners who made Orca Recovery Day such a success. And of course a big thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers who came out to help the orca and salmon habitats improve. There's still more work to be done but with your help we can do it together. If you're still wondering how trees and orcas are related, check out our previous blog post for all the details and support reforestation for orca habitats


We plant trees on 4 continents around the world. Want to choose where yours are planted?

by Kaylee Brzezinski

Nature Enthusiast 



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