The 2017 Forterra WCC crew planting along the Cedar River

Taking Back Cedar River

Forterra’s successful restoration efforts aim to give salmon and orca a fighting chance

The Cedar River is home to some of the best remaining salmon habitat in the region, including spawning and rearing areas for the largest number of natural-origin Chinook salmon in the watershed to migrate through the Ship Canal and Lake Washington. It is also an essential water source for over a million Seattleites. However, the health of Cedar River—and its inhabitants—has been continually threatened by knotweed, an invasive plant that overtakes riverbanks, squeezes out native species and can quickly destroy properties and ecosystems.

Photo by Judy Blanco

Beginning in 2010, Forterra took on an active role in fighting for Cedar River through our Stewardship in Action (SiA) program. SiA participants combated encroaching knotweed and worked hard to restore and create healthy riverside forests. We collaborated with landowners along Cedar River to plant native shrubs and trees, which stabilize banks, cast shade to keep the river cool for salmon, and provide food and shelter for wildlife. As years of hard work went by, knotweed became less prevalent and riverbanks and slowly began to recover.

In the fall of 2018, after eight years of hard work, Forterra’s restoration efforts finally reached the mouth of the Cedar River at Lake Washington in Renton. With knotweed under control and a future forest is taking root along all 22 miles of the lower Cedar River, salmon will have a fighting chance.

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However, there is a more at stake here than the health of the Cedar River and its salmon. Orca, one of the Northwest’s most iconic inhabitants, are struggling. In 2018 alone, two members of our Southern Resident orca died, including a calf whose mother carried her lifeless body for 17 days while the world mourned.

Orca need clean water and salmon to eat if they are going to survive, so habitat restoration for salmon is key in the long-term strategy for orca recovery. In an intricately connected ecosystem, any one decision will impact the entire web of life; knotweed overtaking a river causes orca hundreds of miles away to go hungry. By taking critical steps towards protecting salmon at Cedar River and beyond, Forterra is fighting for a healthy future for orca, salmon, humans—all of us.

Cedar River salmon
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