To The Editor

November 24, 2009

By Contributor

Salmon hatchery

Critic’s letter of salmon’s future after arriving had several inaccuracies

I am writing in response to John Bonomi’s letter, published Nov. 11, regarding salmon rearing at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. The letter contained inaccuracies that I would like to correct.Bonomi contends that “all the (hatchery’s) salmon were to be processed into cat food! Trapped like rats, the fish instead of spawning naturally upstream like God intended, are killed, canned and sold for your cat food.”

In fact, the hatchery releases a great number of salmon into Issaquah Creek every year. This year alone, hatchery staff and volunteers released 847 chinook and 8,192 coho into Issaquah Creek. Once released, the salmon can spawn naturally in the creek. In fact, we have video of a recent coho release online at

I share Bonomi’s frustration over the habitat loss that has resulted in dwindling salmon runs; the declining salmon populations in Issaquah Creek are most likely the result of habitat damage and predation. The hatchery was built in part to restore salmon runs that had vanished in Issaquah Creek. If not for the hatchery, there would not likely be salmon in the creek today.

Also, it is true that Issaquah Creek no longer has a kokanee population. Again, their demise was likely caused by habitat loss and predation. The hatchery is currently involved in a kokanee revival project for the remaining Lake Washington kokanee runs of Ebright, Lewis and Laughing Jacobs creeks. Recently, 34,700 kokanee eggs were collected and shipped to the Cedar River Hatchery for rearing.

In addition to the salmon that were released into Issaquah Creek, the hatchery gave 3,155 coho to local food banks and 739 live coho were taken by the Muckleshoot Tribe to transplant into Tibbetts Creek.

I hope this clears up any confusion; Bonomi and anyone who is interested is welcome to check out hatchery operations at any time – it is open to the public. And Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is here to answer your questions, to provide education about the historic hatchery and watershed stewardship, so we are all inspired to take care of the water we all share.

Gestin Suttle

FISH executive director

Fact is the hatchery releases thousands of salmon back into the creek

John Bonomi’s letter of Nov. 11 was filled with passion, but lacking in facts. Bonomi paints a picture of the hatchery as a glorified slaughterhouse, where all the salmon are destined to become pet food and nature is denied a role in their future. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a long-term master docent at FISH and a member of its board of directors, I feel compelled to step forward and set the record straight.

Fact: The hatchery can and does pass salmon upstream to spawn naturally. It is a standard hatchery practice to release fish upstream, so that they may spawn in the wild, as nature intended. It happens without fail each and every year, and will continue to do so in the future. We consider every fish we pass upstream to be an investment, not only in the species but in their habitat. We take great pride in this policy.

Fact: Not all salmon are destined to become pet food. While it is true that the bodies of hand-spawned fish are sold to a processor (a zero-waste option), it is not the only fate that awaits these fish. In 2009 alone, in addition to the thousands of fish that were sent upstream to spawn naturally, the hatchery arranged to have hundreds of salmon distributed to local food banks. Hundreds more were transferred to spawn naturally in Tibbetts Creek, in a joint project with the Muckleshoot Tribe. A few select fish are distributed to schools, so our youth can gain an understanding of the anatomy of these amazing creatures.

Fact: You are invited to observe all of this yourself. Please, don’t take my word for it. Spawning salmon and passing fish upstream are public events, and the public is welcome to observe the process up-close and personal. Pay the hatchery a visit or, better yet, volunteer to join us in the process. What better evidence than passing a fish upstream with your own two hands?

Visit us at the hatchery, and bring your questions. We love answering them. Come and see for yourself what the hatchery does (and doesn’t do) in support of the salmon. The more you learn, the more you will appreciate these amazing and iconic creatures of the Pacific Northwest.

Kevin D. Boze, master docent

Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

South Cove tree

Resident wishes Squak Mountain cottonwoods would receive attention

In response to the letter written about the cottonwood trees in South Cove: We live on Squak Mountain. Our neighborhood is littered — literally — with more than eight cottonwoods that I can see from my front window on our property or neighboring property.

In the 16 years we have lived here, I have had the trees checked by the city for safety more than once — the trees are always deemed safe. The branches that fall are huge; the mess the trees make is also. My children are not allowed to go outside during even a mild wind due to the danger of falling branches.

We spend the spring cleaning up the cottonwood “snow,” which gets in every nook and cranny of the house and yard; the summer cleaning up the seed pods; and the fall and winter cleaning up leaves and branches. Originally, these trees were planted for their quick growth to better a neighborhood with their beauty.

My husband has had many tree removal companies give us quotes on removing three of the cottonwoods — two on the city right of way. Always, we end up forgoing the process due to the hoops the city requires to cut down anything over six inches in diameter, not to mention the cost.

I sure wish our neighborhood trees could get the attention the South Cove trees have received. We would certainly have a safer and more beautiful neighborhood, not to mention plenty of trees left to carry on the history and health of Squak Mountain!

Leslie MacInnes


Campaign signs

Ban would fix ugly blight in the city, force candidates to better explain issues

I hope the City Council will consider issuing a ban on campaign signs.

They don’t really help people make a decision, they cost a lot of money, but, most importantly, they are an ugly blight on our cityscape. For months, we live with this unsightly clutter.

Candidates would do better spending their money on newspaper ads and flyers mailed to homes. That way, they can state their positions and say something about what they want to accomplish, giving voters a reason to decide for or against them. That’s one voter’s opinion!

Barbara Extract


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One Response to “To The Editor”

  1. Linda Jean Shepherd on November 29th, 2009 8:37 pm

    I applaud the polystyrene ban as an important environmental policy, and I’d like to suggest a way we can support local businesses who will be impacted by the ban. Just I bring my own bags to the grocery store, I’m training myself to take my own takeout containers to restaurants.

    Like the old plastic versus paper bag debate, the real answer is neither. The best solution is to bring our own bags — and bring our own takeout containers. If enough of us do so, we can help compensate business owners for the higher cost of recyclable and compostable containers for those who need them.

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