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Orca Project

Orca Project

picture of 2 orca whales breaching the surface of water with trees in the background

Planting Location: 50+ Watersheds throughout California, Oregon, Washington, BC

Project Description/Objective: The Endangered Southern Resident Orca have called the stretch of Pacific Ocean from Northern California to British Columbia home for millennia. Every year, as the Orca's migrate North to South and back again they rely on the West Coast Chinook salmon for food (nearly 80% of their diet). However, salmon stocks are diminishing due to loss of habitat and increasing pollution - ultimately impacting the Orca downstream. Planting trees along rivers and streams of the Pacific Northwest restores habitat for the endangered orca. Trees help with water quality and therefore improve the health and quantity of salmon for the orca to eat!

Ecological Benefits: Planting trees has a number of knock-on effects that benefit the salmon and, ultimately, the orca.

  1. Improved water quality: Trees planted along the banks of the river can help filter out toxins as water passes through the soil and into the rivers where the salmon spawn. This not only improves salmon survivability but also improves the quality and quantity of food available to the orca.
  2. As the trees grow and their roots spread, the banks of the rivers solidify, protecting against erosion and keeping the river water clear of excessive sediment, which is necessary for the salmon to spawn.
  3. Trees also help provide important nutrients for the young salmon as they grow. Leaves, needles, and woody debris falling into the river create habitat for insects the salmon eat, helping them fatten up for the long journey downstream to the Pacific Ocean.
  4. As the trees mature and the forest canopy thickens it provides critical shade over salmon spawning grounds. Salmon eggs need to be kept cool, and without adequate shade from vegetation on the banks of the river water temperatures will rise, reducing the chances the eggs have to develop and hatch.
  5. Even dying and fallen trees on the banks of the river benefit salmon. Branches and trees that fall into the water help to slow down the flow, making it easier for the salmon to lay their eggs without them getting immediately washed away. Planting trees today means the debris created in the future ensures the salmon have plenty of spots to lay their eggs.

Community Benefits: Orcas are emblematic of the North-West and have significant meaning for the First Nations communities that have lived in this region. Making sure these creatures don't go extinct has a significant community impact.

Types of Trees: Various - Abies grandis (Grand Fir); Acer circinatum (Vine Maple); Acer macrophyllum (Bigleaf Maple); Alnus Rhombifolia (White Alder); Alnus rubra (Red Alder); Amelanchier alnifolia (Serviceberry); Arbutus menziesii (Pacific Madrone); Calocedrus decurrens (Incense cedar); Cornus nuttali (Pacific dogwood); Cornus sericea (Red Osier Dogwood); Corylus cornuta (Hazelnut); Crataegus douglasii (Hawthorn); Fraxinus latifolia (Oregon Ash); Malus fusca (Western Crabapple); Oemleria cerasiformis (Indian Plum); Pinus ponderosa (W.v.) (W. Valley Ponderosa Pine); Populus trichocarpa (Black Cottonwood); Prunus emarginata (Bitter Cherry); Prunus virginiana (Choke Cherry); Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir); Quercus garryana (Oregon Oak); Rhamnus purshiana (Cascara); Salix hookeriana (Hookers Willow); Salix lasiandra (Pacific Willow); Salix scouleriana (Scouler’s Willow); Salix sitchensis (Sitka Willow); Sambucus cerulea (Blue Elderberry); Sambucus racemosa (Red Elderberry); Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar); Tsuga heterophylla (Western Hemlock)

Number of Trees Donated by Noble Oak: 93,550

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