Sally Jewell announces watershed

April 29, 2014

By Staff

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined local conservation leaders April 25 to announce that Lake Sammamish has been chosen as one of eight pilot partnerships nationwide under the Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative.

The partnership will help connect people in the Seattle metro-area to the great outdoors and, in particular, efforts to restore kokanee salmon runs in the Lake Sammamish Watershed.

By Greg Farrar Issaquah Mayor Fred Butler (left) shares a laugh with Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, as she meets and greets dozens of local officials April 25.

By Greg Farrar
Issaquah Mayor Fred Butler (left) shares a laugh with Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, as she meets and greets dozens of local officials April 25.

“Children have become increasingly disconnected from nature,” Jewell said in a news release. “The Lake Sammamish Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership seeks to reverse this trend by providing meaningful opportunities for urban residents in the region, especially young people, to get outdoors and engage in hands-on learning and conservation of kokanee salmon and its habitat.”

To celebrate the partnership, elementary school students from Campbell Hill Elementary School, in Renton, released kokanee salmon fry into Ebright Creek, an annual event sponsored by the Kokanee Work Group.

The partnership, with roots in the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group, is planning to provide classroom education for youths about the efforts to restore declining kokanee salmon runs. The partnership will also conduct field trips to tour fish hatcheries and important habitat for the fish, with a focus on how fish and people depend upon a healthy watershed to flourish.

The partnership will work with other conservation groups to leverage existing conservation work and outreach into broader efforts to benefit the Seattle metro-area.

Lake Sammamish serves as a gateway to the many rivers, lakes, forests and trails in the Central Cascades for nearby urban residents.

In an attempt to bridge the growing disconnect between young people and the great outdoors, Jewell launched a youth initiative in October to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors. Initiative goals include:

4Play — The Department of the Interior will develop or enhance outdoor recreation partnerships in 50 cities over four years to create new, systemic opportunities for outdoor play for more than 10 million youths.

4Learn — Provide educational opportunities to at least 10 million of the nation’s K-12 student population annually. In addition to welcoming students into nature’s classroom, the department is developing and strengthening new online education resources to reach more students.

4Serve — Engage 1 million volunteers annually on public lands, effectively tripling current volunteer numbers. Many more people are interested in volunteering at national parks, wildlife refuges and public lands, but there are often insufficient staff resources to coordinate them. In order to achieve the volunteer goal, a renewed emphasis will be placed on volunteer coordination and management.

4Work — To develop the next generation of lifelong conservation stewards and ensure a skilled and diverse workforce pipeline, the department will provide 100,000 work and training opportunities to young people and veterans within federal bureaus and through public-private partnerships. The department aims to raise an additional $20 million from private and corporate donors to support the youth work and training opportunities.

President Obama’s budget released last month proposes $50.6 million for Department of Interior youth programs, which represents a $13.6 million (or 37 percent) increase from 2014. Included in the budget is an increase of $2.5 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative, $8 million to expand opportunities for youth education and employment across the National Park Service, and an additional $1 million in the Bureau of Indian Affairs for youth programs.

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