Join leaders to release threatened kokanee salmon

April 16, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 8 a.m. April 16, 2011

Darin Combs, Issaquah Salmon Hatchery manager, lifts a screen to reveal a tray of 3,100 fertilized Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon eggs. File

King County and Eastside leaders plan to gather along Lake Sammamish on Monday to release kokanee salmon fry into the wild.

King County Executive Dow Constantine, Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger, Sammamish Mayor Don Gerend and Bellevue Mayor Don Davidson, plus representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and local organizations plan to participate and mar the conclusion of another season of Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon restoration work.

The push to restore the dwindling salmon species is a team effort combining local, state and federal agencies.

The release is from 1-3 p.m. at Hans Jensen Park at the north end of Lake Sammamish State Park.

Organizers plan to release 100 juvenile kokanee — the last of 30,000 salmon reared at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and a federal hatchery during the winter.

Scientists collected kokanee from Lake Sammamish tributaries last fall and then spawned the salmon at the Issaquah hatchery.

Lake Sammamish kokanee — a landlocked cousin of sockeye salmon — return to creeks near the lake in the rain-soaked months from November to January.

In recent years, the number of salmon in the late-fall and early-winter run has dwindled to less than 1,000 in some seasons. Kokanee return to only a handful of creeks — Ebright, Laughing Jacobs and Lewis — to spawn.

Scientists said extensive surveys of the spawning grounds from the fall and early winter indicate the 2010-11 spawning run as one of the smallest in a decade or more.

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