Native kokanee fry released in historic ceremony

April 19, 2011

Seventy-five kokanee fry swam in a small camping cooler by Laughing Jacobs Creek, unaware they were surrounded by federal, state, county and city administrators, as well as concerned citizens — all people intent on helping the native salmon survive in the wild.

The Issaquah Salmon Hatchery teamed up with the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group and dignitaries from the city all the way to the federal level for the second annual kokanee fry release at Hans Jensen Park on April 18.

Last year, the group released the kokanee at Ebright Creek in Sammamish, and next year the release will be celebrated at Lewis Creek in Issaquah.

Jessica Leguizamon, 10, watches kokanee salmon fry swim away from her Dixie cup into Laughing Jacobs Creek as her sister Sabrina, 5, waits her turn and their grandfather, Gary Smith, looks on. County environmental scientist Hans Berge makes sure the release is done properly. By Greg Farrar

“This fry release is a critical part of our kokanee recovery and restoration efforts,” David St. John, Department of Natural Resources government relations administrator, said.

He outlined the group’s goals: preventing kokanee extinction and restoring a diverse and native habitat for the salmon.

“In our last run there was probably 100 fish, so we’re at low numbers, extremely low numbers,” St. John said.

A normal run for kokanee usually extends into the hundreds or thousands, he said in a later phone interview.

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Off the Press

February 8, 2011

Greg Farrar Press photographer

A recent photo assignment for our Issaquah Living magazine coming in next week’s Press has shed some insight into what can only be described as our little local miracle, Issaquah Creek.

We all have seen the creek as it moves past the hatchery, or under the vehicle bridges on Gilman Boulevard, Newport Way or Front Street. We definitely get a good look when it floods. But that leaves more than 99 percent of the creek unseen by most people as it comes down from Tiger Mountain and north through the valley.

I’ve been wading knee-deep in water, pushing through hummocks of blackberry vines, hiking and climbing down hillsides of forest to find the headwaters, trickles, waterfalls, and brooks that give birth to our creek.

There are four main branches — Holder Creek, which starts on the southeast slope of Tiger Mountain; Carey Creek, which begins in Hobart and comes together with Holder Creek at the Bonomi Farm by Highway 18 to create Issaquah Creek; Fifteenmile Creek, which starts on Tiger’s southwest slope and meets Issaquah Creek at Southeast May Valley Road; and the East Fork, which starts at High Point and joins Issaquah Creek west of Darigold.

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Department of Ecology turns to Twitter to alert residents to hazards

December 28, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 28, 2010

Evergreen State residents can turn to Twitter for up-to-date information about oil and hazardous material spills.

The state Department of Ecology has enlisted the micro-blogging service to disseminate accurate, credible and timely information to the media and public about spill response, preparedness and prevention issues and activities including.

The effort also includes a spill-specific website, a presence on Facebook and the agency’s EcoConnect blog.

“In the past year alone, Ecology responded to more than 3,600 reported spills and conducted about 1,200 field responses,” Spill Prevention, Preparedness and Response Program Manager Dale Jensen said. “The breadth of what we do to protect our environment, our economy and our cultural resources is immense.”

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Architect offers bold plan for creekside parks

November 30, 2010

The proposed design for a downtown parks site includes a horseshoe-shaped bridge across Issaquah Creek and meandering trails. The Berger Partnership

Initial proposal emphasizes ecology and history at downtown site

Ideas abound for the downtown parks along Issaquah Creek: boulders for climbing, meandering paths, community gardens, historic farmhouses repurposed as meeting spaces and — the centerpiece — a horseshoe-shaped pedestrian bridge across the creek at the main stem and the East Fork.

The ambitious plan aims to transform the oft-overlooked, 15.5-acre site near Darigold into a destination. Seattle landscape architect Guy Michaelsen said the intent is to create a park site “unique to Issaquah and a reflection of Issaquah.”

The site — often referred to as the “crown jewel” in the municipal parks system — encompasses Tollë Anderson, Cybil-Madeline and Issaquah Creek parks. The effort is the largest parks project since the city built Squak Valley Park South in 2008 and the most ambitious plan since the city laid the groundwork for Tibbetts Valley Park more than 20 years ago.

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Darigold fined $10,000 for 2009 ammonia spill

October 26, 2010

The state Department of Ecology has imposed a $10,000 fine on Darigold for a 2009 ammonia spill into Issaquah Creek.

The state announced the fine — the maximum penalty under state law — a little more than a year after the spill killed salmon and other fish in the midst of salmon-spawning season. Darigold has 30 days from the Oct. 19 announcement to appeal the penalty to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board.

The spill occurred Oct. 7, 2009, during maintenance and repair to the refrigeration system at the downtown Issaquah dairy. State investigators said a crew draining part of the refrigeration system allowed a toxic ammonia solution to flow onto the roof of the creekside building and down a storm drain.

Under state law, the Department of Ecology had until October 2011 to issue a penalty against Seattle-based Darigold. The state agency conducted a follow-up investigation to determine how the spill had originated. Then, investigators sent the findings to the state Attorney General’s Office for review.

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State fines Darigold for Issaquah Creek ammonia spill

October 19, 2010

NEW — 11:50 a.m. Oct. 19, 2010

The state Department of Ecology has fined Darigold Inc. $10,000 for a 2009 ammonia spill into Issaquah Creek, the agency announced Tuesday morning.

The spill caused a fish kill during a salmon-spawning run. The fine is the maximum state penalty authorized per day under state law. Darigold can appeal the penalty to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board.

“Darigold cooperated in the response and investigation, and we appreciate that,” Kevin Fitzpatrick, Department of Ecology regional water quality program supervisor, said in a statement. “However, the company has an obligation under its water quality permit to exercise care at every step of its maintenance operations to prevent the release of toxic substances.”

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Press Editorial

September 7, 2010

Get acquainted with new city parks

Issaquah has a new park, and it’s a beauty!

Actually, it’s three parks — Cybil-Madeline, Tollë Anderson and Issaquah Creek parks, located behind the Darigold plant on Rainier Boulevard. The three adjacent properties were acquired over the past 20 years, but until the city cut the weeds and tall grasses in recent weeks, residents couldn’t really see what a treasure they own.

First noted are the wide-open spaces, the kind that make you want to twirl in the sun or fly a kite, or spread a blanket and read a good book. But there are also towering evergreens, like the ones surrounding the beautiful white pine. There are fruit trees from a former orchard, and a stand of birches and other select, mature nursery picks. It’s worth visiting now, but will be even more glorious when the trees show their fall colors. Read more

Downtown trolleys will be delayed until at least next spring, backers say

July 20, 2010

Historic trolleys might not clang through downtown Issaquah until next spring, despite plans to relaunch the tourist attraction much earlier.

Trolley backers had hoped to run the historic cars from the Issaquah Train Depot downtown to the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce office by late summer.

Engineers had hoped to advertise the project to potential contractors by May, but August seems more realistic under the updated timeline.

The city oversees about $500,000 in grant money awarded to the project. Barb Justice and other Issaquah Valley Trolley Project volunteers manage the long-running effort to run trolleys in downtown Issaquah.

The group has become accustomed to the delays inherent in restoring 75-year-old trolleys and readying unused railroad tracks for the vehicles.

“Things seem to take 10 times longer than one would hope,” Justice, grants coordinator for the trolley project, said in early July.

City Senior Engineer Rory Cameron said the city last week submitted the application for authority to administer the grant. The city submitted the proposal to the state Department of Transportation, the agency responsible for managing federal transportation dollars in Washington.

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30-year senior volunteer honored

June 22, 2010

Nancy Viney, Sylvia Hooker, Val Borman and Margaret Eavenson (from left) bring their yarn projects every week to the Happy Hookers meeting at the Issaquah Valley Senior Center. By Greg Farrar

Even before she officially qualified as a senior, Val Borman, 93, had been volunteering her time to make the Issaquah Valley Senior Center a better place for seniors.

“We were on our morning walk and were going by,” Val said of herself and her husband Jake Borman. “He said, ‘I hear they have a really great coffee, drip coffee for 10 cents a cup’ I said, ‘I’m not going in there, no way.’”

It just took one cup of coffee with her husband in 1981 to pull her into the center, said Tommie Troutman, former director of the senior center.

If you name it, Val’s done it, she added.

So much so, that she was given a special award for 30 years of service at the 2010 Volunteer Recognition Lunch hosted by senior center officials April 24. She was honored by Troutman, the founding director of the center; Nedra Foshee, a former director; and current Executive Director Courtney Jaren.

“She is an absolute treasure,” Jaren said. “We’ve come to depend on her, because she has so much to share.”

The senior center is vital to the community, it gives people a place to gather, to celebrate, to feel supported and to stay active, Val said. Read more

Darigold, landfill honored for pollution prevention

May 25, 2010

King County environmental officials honored the Issaquah Darigold plant and Cedar Hills Regional Landfill for spotless wastewater discharge records last year.

Darigold and the landfill — just south of Issaquah in unincorporated King County — received kudos from the Industrial Waste Program on May 5. The landfill — operated by the King County Solid Waste Division — and 57 other entities received Gold Awards for no discharging wastewater without violations last year. Darigold and 16 other companies received Silver Awards for no discharge-monitoring violations last year. Darigold operates a landmark plant along Front Street North.

Since 1969, the Industrial Waste Program has required many industries to pre-treat wastewater before release in order to safeguard sewer treatment facilities, workers, the environment and public health.

Besides regulatory enforcement, the program serves as a resource for businesses by supporting permit compliance efforts and educating entrepreneurs about pollution prevention, waste reduction and water conservation. Learn more about the program here.

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