Salmon hatchery in Issaquah, Washington

Salmon hatchery in Issaquah, Washington. Credit: jc.winkler/Flickr

NSEA Executive Director Rachel Vasak along Landingstrip Creek in Washington

Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association Executive Director Rachel Vasak at one of the project’s planting sites. Credit: American Forests

Project Location:
Whatcom County, Washington

Key Activities:

  • Planting 20,000 native trees across 10 acres
  • Providing riparian habitat through streamside tree plantings for threatened wildlife species

Project Description:
Partnering with the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, Alcoa Foundation and American Forests are planting 2,000 native trees in riparian areas to help improve aquatic habitat for salmon and other species.

Why This Project:
Whatcom County in northwest Washington has seen its stream health decline in the last century due to loss of vegetation; agricultural, industrial and other development practices; and an influx of invasive and non-native plants. These changes have adversely affected the area’s salmon population.

This project is helping restore stream health by planting trees along riparian areas, creating natural erosion barriers, water filtration, shade and habitat. Salmon in particular need cool, shaded water for survival.

Why Salmon:
Wild salmon are incredibly important to the Pacific Northwest’s culture and economy. They are an important economic driver for the state and its residents through commercial and recreational fishing and culturally important to local communities and Indian tribes. In the last 60 years, salmon populations in the Nooksack River Basin have declined dramatically, and several salmon species are threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Salmon are extremely sensitive to changes in water quality, water quantity and spawning habitat. A shaded streamside helps oxygenate the water; provides decaying plant matter for juvenile salmon to feast upon; prevents erosion, which eases swimming conditions; and cools water temperatures.

Interested in the other Washington reforestation projects in which we’ve been involved? Check out our Washington Global ReLeaf projects, which include earlier work with the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association.