Volunteers sought for tree-planting on Orca Recovery Day

Restoration efforts focused on the Elwha River

PORT ANGELES — The Clallam Conservation District and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe are seeking volunteers to plant 2,000 conifer trees during Orca Recovery Day in the former Lake Aldwell reservoir between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday.

For more information or to register, see clallamcd.org/orca-event.

Although some promising signs of improvement for the Southern Resident orcas have been seen lately, the population remains critically endangered. The biggest threat to local orca whales is malnutrition due to their primary food source, chinook (king) salmon, also being endangered, organizers said.

Salmon comprise 80 percent of the fish-eating orca’s diet, so with Puget Sound salmon populations a fraction of what they used to be, orcas are having a difficult time finding food.

On Saturday, conservation districts around the state, along with dozens of nonprofits and other agencies, will come together for the third annual Orca Recovery Day to provide opportunities for people to take action.

The Clallam Conservation District and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe are teaming up to support orca recovery by focusing restoration efforts on the Elwha River, organizers said.

The removal of the Lower Elwha Dam in 2011 and the upper Glines Canyon Dam in 2014 gave unrestricted passage to chinook salmon, as well as other fish species, through the Elwha River system. But shade and woody debris was lacking in many areas of the freed river.

“Restoration plantings, such as those being planned for Orca Recovery Day, are crucial to help accelerate restoration of fish habitat in the Elwha River for both salmon and orca recovery,” organizers said.

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