Orca Action Month: WA Estuary Restoration Project Helps Whale Recovery
Thursday, June 29, 2023
It's Orca Action Month and a restoration project in Puget Sound will help provide more salmon to the aquatic mammals.
Highway development has degraded the Duckabush estuary on the Olympic Peninsula.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has designed a project to elevate Highway 101 and restore tidelands, helping juvenile salmon habitat.
Staci McMahon, ocean policy associate with the Seattle Aquarium, said Southern Resident Orcas off the Washington coast need more salmon.
"Because salmon populations in our region have also declined significantly," said McMahon, "salmon habitat restoration projects are one of the most important things we can do for orca recovery in the long term."
The project is a partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group.
State lawmakers approved $14 million for the project in the budget this year - but to complete the restoration, it needs more federal funding.
Theresa Mitchell, environmental planner with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the project will restore a more natural system.
"That benefits not only fish," said Mitchell, "but wildlife, people, anything that is dependent on, as we like to say, the ecosystem goods and services that are provided by a habitat."
Mitchell said she hopes this will inspire other restoration efforts in the region.
"As we continue as a society, as a state, as people that care about the fish and wildlife of the state to restore habitat," said Mitchell, "I think that incentivizes or gets people interested in what they can do on their private land as well. So I think that's another important aspect of this project, is to show that we're leading by example."
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