FISH invites public to catch Issaquah Salmon Hatchery’s 75th anniversary

April 17, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

The iconic Issaquah Salmon Hatchery opened along Issaquah Creek 75 years ago and, in the decades since, developed into a symbol for the community and a lifeline for fish species.

The anniversary celebration is due to start April 22, Earth Day, as the nonprofit organization Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery hosts a public open house. The daylong celebration launches a series of events to mark the milestone.

“The hatchery brought back the salmon to Issaquah,” FISH Executive Director Jane Kuechle said.

Participants can tour the hatchery, learn about the history from 1937 to the present, feed trout, dissect a salmon, hike to a dam along Issaquah Creek and release salmon fry into the creek.

If you go

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery 75th anniversary celebration

Snoqualmie Tribe members plan to conduct demonstrations and discussions at the event.

The celebration also features family-friendly activities, such as a scavenger hunt and art projects — including ever-popular fish printing.

FISH invited boldface names to speak at the opening ceremony. Mayor Ava Frisinger, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, Deputy County Executive Fred Jarrett — a former state senator for the Issaquah area — and state Department of Fish and Wildlife District 4 Manager Bob Everitt plan to address attendees.

(Frisinger also serves as the FISH board president.)

Construction started on the hatchery in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration project. The agency built buildings and roads from coast to coast to provide jobs during the Great Depression.

The hatchery complex rose on a former city park and opened the next year. The city-owned hatchery land is leased to the state for 99 years.

The hatchery restored the historic Issaquah Creek salmon runs hit hard by logging and coalmining, early industries in frontier-era Issaquah.

The original salmon stocks for the hatchery originated in the Green River. Early hatchery crews spawned chinook, coho and steelhead salmon. The hatchery raises chinook and coho nowadays, and serves a key role in a program to restore the dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon population.

Though the state Department of Fish and Wildlife operates the hatchery, FISH leads tours during the autumn salmon runs, and spearheads educational programs in school classrooms and at the hatchery.

The downtown Issaquah grounds receive more guests than any other state-run hatchery.

The hatchery — and a bridge across Issaquah Creek on hatchery grounds — form the centerpiece each October during the Salmon Days Festival.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.
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