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Earth Day 2023 - Making A Difference on the Nooksack

A person holds a small tree with other people planting in the background.
Volunteer planting a tree for Earth Day 2023.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall

Hundreds of volunteers joined Whatcom CD, Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA), Lummi Nation Natural Resources Department, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), in celebration of Earth Day 2023. These organizations and community members came together to make a difference for the Nooksack River watershed and our larger Whatcom County community. The Earth Day event began with volunteers planting in earnest. By the end of the day, volunteers planted and mulched 1,044 trees along the Nooksack River. These trees help to restore a riparian area that was lost long ago. As volunteers finished their planting, the Lummi Nation Blackhawk Singers honored the event with traditional songs and dances. They sang songs in celebration of Mother Earth and this land.

A woman and child pose next to small tree in a whole in the ground. People are planting in the background.
Volunteers pose with their tree.

Riparian areas, or plantings along streams, help restore rivers in a multitude of ways. The trees and shrubs filter pollutants, keep streams cold by providing shade, filter sediment out of water, stabilize stream banks to prevent erosion, enhance water flow, and create complexity in streams. Restoring trees to the bank of the Nooksack River improves habitat for salmon and other animals that live in and around the stream. These trees also protect water quality and quantity for all of the people that depend on the river for water, crop production, and recreation.

The location of the Earth Day Celebration is a stretch of the Nooksack River that has been used by the Lummi Nation for thousands of years to launch their boats from before fishing for Chinook, coho, and chum salmon. This stretch of river has been in the process of being restored by NSEA, Whatcom CD, Lummi Nation Natural Resource Department, WDFW, community members, and other partners, for over five years. That work is already showing improvements. In several more years, we expect to see an even healthier stretch of river.

This year, April 22, 2023, was filled with love, hope, unity, and a deep appreciation and care for what the earth provides. Despite April sprinkles and chill, hundreds of people came to give back to, our rivers, this land, and the Earth. We impact the world every day, and it is up to us to take actions that make those impacts good ones for our community and the Earth.

Large group of people smiling at the camera with trees in the background, a tent to the side, and grass in the foreground.
The hundreds of volunteers who participated in the Earth Day 2023 Nooksack River restoration.

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