Submitted by the San Juan County Land Bank
San Juan County Land Bank wants to thank everyone who came out and celebrated Orca Recovery Day last Saturday. The Oct. 19 celebrations spanned two islands, with approximately 50 volunteers coming together to support natural areas and the endangered Southern resident orcas that grace the Salish Sea.
Cattle Point Interpretive Area, San Juan Island
SJI Conservation District hosted its second Orca Recovery Day, joined by over 30 volunteers, to help plant over 400 native prairie wildflowers and grasses within the marine riparian zone at Cattle Point Natural Resources Conservation Area, managed by the Department for Natural Resources. Canada thistle (an invasive Asteraceae) was replaced with Viola adunca; Festuca romeri; Grindelia integrfolia; Cerastium arvense; and Anaphalis margaritacea, native species all grown in The Salish Seeds Project nursery. These host plants will add to a healthy shoreline habitat that supports local insect populations – part of the web that puts food on the table for Southern resident orca. This restoration project is a part of a larger effort, lead by DNR, to conserve native nearshore ecosystems for threatened and endangered species. Participants heard from Samuel Barr of Samish Nation; Katie Jones from Center for Whale Research; Deborah Giles from UW Center for Conservation Biology and Wild Orca; Jess Newly from Friends of the San Juans; Janet Thomas from Orca Relief;and Frances Robertson from The Marine Resources Committee.
Turtleback Mountain Preserve, Orcas Island
Volunteers joined land bank staff in its first Orca Recovery Day event to help plant 400 Garry oak acorns and 1,300 native wildflowers within the Garry oak restoration area off the Morning Ridge Trail on Turtleback Mountain. Garry oak savannahs and native grasslands are some of the rarest habitats in Washington and are home to a high diversity of native plants, birds, butterflies and other animals. The Oct. 19 planting included native wildflowers found in Garry oak ecosystems, such as great camas (Camassia leichtlinii), spring bank violet (Viola adunca), and Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis). Native seeds are sown into plugs at The Salish Seeds Project nursery on San Juan Island. This head start gives them a better chance of establishing themselves in competition with non-native species.