At the Whatcom County ReLeaf project site.

At the Whatcom County ReLeaf project site.

Project Location:
Whatcom County, Wash.

Key Activities:

  • Planting more than 40,000 trees across 50 acres
  • Improving stream health through riparian plantings
  • Creating wildlife habitat

Project Description:
Partnering with Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, The Alcoa Foundation and American Forests are embarking on a multi-year effort to help restore riparian areas with tree plantings in Whatcom County, Wash.

Why This Project:
Many watersheds being restored through this project have been devegetated, channelized and degraded by a century of agricultural, industrial and urban uses. This project is reforesting five miles of riparian habitat along high-priority streams that are degraded from past activities. By focusing on connecting isolated stream reaches with intact functioning riparian habitat, stream health is improved, which improves habitat for important aquatic species like salmon.

Why Washington Streams:
Over the past 60 years, salmon populations in the Nooksack River Basin have declined dramatically, and several local salmonid species have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Salmon are extremely sensitive to changes in water quality, quantity and spawning habitat.

Fish passage is compromised in many cases due to poor riparian conditions, and a decline in the ability of a stream or river to support the rearing of young salmon indicates a decline in the overall health of the ecosystem. The more intact, diverse and productive a freshwater ecosystem is, the healthier stocks of this indicator species will be. Salmon are an important species in connecting and sustaining a vast web of creatures large and small, from aquatic insects to eagles, bears, orcas and people — essentially all members of the Pacific Northwest community.