Kokanee restoration earns local philanthropist a Green Globe award
April 30, 2013
By Peter Clark
After donating more than $175,000 of his own money to restore kokanee salmon habitat on his land, the modest Wally Pereyra has begun to receive wide attention.
The week of April 22, King County announced the winners of its Green Globe awards, an annual recognition of dedicated citizens for efforts ranging from environmental conservation to education and sustainable building. Pereyra was on the list and the county honored him with an award.
“Pereyra has been a tireless advocate for habitat conservation and restoration in the watershed, investing his own time and resources to improve access to high quality spawning and rearing habitat for Sammamish kokanee,” a press release from the county read. “Most recently, Wally led an effort to replace an undersized culvert on his land along Ebright Creek that for decades had been a barrier to fish passage.”
At a Kokanee Work Group event that had Sammamish fourth-graders releasing kokanee fry into Ebright Creek on his land, Pereyra was roundly praised for his dedication to the recovery of kokanee salmon.
“Wally, using his own nickel, has probably quadrupled the amount of space for the fish,” Sammamish Mayor Tom Odell said. “It’s the single biggest event that’s happened to the kokanee since I’ve been here.”
Pereyra, a fish biologist and native from the Northeast, was honored by the recognition, but said it was not the reason he helped the fish.
“It means a lot, actually,” he said. “I didn’t do these things for the honors. I did it because it’s the right thing to do.”
He said that with restoring the habitat, they expected to see 30 percent increase and instead it was 300 percent.
“All of us have come to have a relationship with those little red fish coming up the stream, and we are bringing back a resource that is so important to them,” he said. “Everything is really connected to these little red fish, and I think we need to keep that in mind.”