The Nisqually Land Trust announced three projects to aid in recovery of orcas in Puget Sound.

With “Puget Sound Orca Recovery Day” fast approaching, the Nisqually Land Trust announced three major projects designed to protect nearly two miles of Puget Sound and estuary shoreline.

Protection of these sites will benefit many species listed by state and federal resource agencies as endangered, threatened or at risk, including orca, Chinook and coho salmon, steelhead trout and the Olympia oyster.

The projects are the first launched under the Land Trust’s new Marine Conservation Initiative, a strategic approach to protecting high-value coastal habitats within the Nisqually Reach-South Sound marine environment.

One project, funded by Pierce County Conservation Futures and scheduled for completion by year’s end, will protect 72 acres and over one-half mile of shoreline on Anderson Island, within the Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve. The project includes a $175,000 landowner donation to match a $550,000 Pierce Conservation Futures grant.

The two other projects will protect an entire 90-acre estuary and forest complex along the eastern shore of the Johnson Point peninsula and a 93-acre environmental-education camp and retreat center on the Key Peninsula that contains nine different types of coastal shoreline habitat.

“This project provides a unique opportunity to protect vital habitat and support environmental education and recreation programs that will benefit thousands of children and other community members every year,” said Eric Erler, Marine Conservation Initiative project manager for the Land Trust.

The Johnson Point and Key Peninsula projects have a combined cost of some $3.5 million. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will request state legislature approval of $853,000 in Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program funding for the projects in the 2019-2021 state budget. The projects also seek nearly $2 million through the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program.

Project partners include private landowners, the Washington Department of Ecology, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nisqually Indian Tribe, the Nisqually Delta Association, Ducks Unlimited, and the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

“Southern Puget Sound estuaries form one of the most productive living ecosystems on Earth,” Erler said. “The Marine Conservation Initiative builds on the great work in the freshwater environment already achieved by Nisqually  Land Trust and its many partners.”

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