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

Whatcom County, Wash.

Key Activities:

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

Project Description:
For the third consecutive year, Alcoa Foundation and American Forests are partnering with the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association to plant trees in Whatcom County, Wash., to improve streambanks and aquatic habitat.

Why This Project:
Over the years, American Forests has partnered with the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association on a number of restoration projects designed to improve waterway health in northwest Washington. This project is continuing that work by helping to eliminate invasive and non-native species, replacing them with trees native to the area. This year, the partnership is planting 10,000 trees across 1,500 feet of stream channels and five acres of land within the watershed. These trees are helping stabilize the area’s streams, which have declined in health over the last century, impacting critical habitat for endangered and threatened aquatic species such as salmon.

Why Streamside Plantings:
Improving tree cover along riparian areas accomplishes a number of things. Trees provide shade for the waterways, lowering the water temperature, which is necessary for healthy aquatic habitat. Additionally, trees’ roots prevent soil erosion into streams, preventing sediment buildup and particulates from disturbing wildlife. The trees also filter pollutants from the air and the water. Finally, even in death or decay, the trees provide necessary ecosystem services to the streams, as dead limbs, leaves and more provide food for many aquatic species and can also provide habitat in pools or shaded alcoves created by downed debris.

Interested in the other Washington reforestation projects in which we’ve been involved? Check out our Washington Global ReLeaf projects.