Recent news of the presumed deaths of three Southern Resident Orca Whales has added urgency to the need for large-scale restoration efforts. Conservation Districts have joined with dozens of other partners across Washington State to host events that restore habitat, reduce stormwater pollution, and educate the public about things everyone can do to help save one of the most iconic creatures of the Pacific Northwest. Members of the public are invited to sign-up at one of more than 70 events that are being held on Oct. 19 as part of a statewide coordination of events known as “Orca Recovery Day 2019.”
In its second year, Orca Recovery Day has experienced tremendous growth. “Our goal for 2019 was to double the number of events and volunteers engaged from 2018. Now with over 70 events, we’ve nearly quadrupled the participation from last year, growing it from a Puget Sound event to a Pacific Northwest-wide phenomenon. From British Columbia to California, this level of involvement indicates how important recovering our endangered Orcas is to people throughout our region. It’s also a powerful symbol of hope, that together we can fix this,” said Ryan Mello, executive director, Pierce Conservation District.
More than 70 events will be held across Washington, British Columbia, Oregon, and Northern California to connect people to the recovery effort for the critically endangered Southern Resident Orca Whales. Led by conservation districts throughout Washington, and joined by dozens of non-profits, tribes, and local and state agencies, Orca Recovery Day will engage thousands of people in actions that improve conditions for the Orca.
The Southern Resident Orca Whales that call the Salish Sea (Strait of Georgia, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Puget Sound) home are critically endangered. In the past few months alone, three more Southern Resident Orcas died, resulting in a current population of 73. Their numbers have been in steady decline. Recovery for the Southern Resident Orcas will take a coordinated and ongoing effort by all who reside in watersheds that provide habitat for the Orca’s primary food source: primarily Chinook salmon, which are also endangered. Improving fish habitat will also support sport and commercial fisheries in Washington that have an estimated economic impact of $2.7 billion. These watersheds span every corner of Washington State and surrounding lands. Providing clean waterways that support fish health and overall improved water quality will benefit more than just the Southern Resident Orcas; doing so will benefit all life that call Washington State and surrounding lands/waterways their home.
Generous sponsors have already stepped forward to support Orca Recovery Day events including, but not limited to, One Tree Planted, Washington State Conservation Commission, Ruth Foundation: A legacy of the Gary E. Milgard Foundation, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Boeing, Puget Sound Energy, and the Russell Family Foundation.
Times vary by event. Individual event details can be found at www.BetterGround.org/ORD where people and organizations can sign up to participate in events near them. All events are family-friendly and designed for anyone to volunteer in their local community. Event details and volunteer registration can be found at www.BetterGround.org/ORD. People who are unable to volunteer may consider a donation to support conservation efforts at www.PromiseThePod.org.