Volunteer to help the kokanee

April 1, 2014

Here’s a unique chance to help the kokanee program from the Bellevue-Issaquah Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Trapping kokanee fry on Ebright and Lewis creeks recently started, with an anticipated third trap on Laughing Jacobs Creek. Trapping is from dusk to about 11 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings. Help is needed monitoring these traps.

To volunteer, contact Robert Metzger at rmetzger80@comcast.net or 888-3639.

 

‘Salmon Seeson’ has arrived, so go view local fish

September 15, 2013

NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 15, 2013

Fall has arrived, and with it comes the return of salmon to Puget Sound streams and rivers. Sightseers can get a good look at the fish at several local waterways.

Spectators can watch the salmon return to Issaquah Creek from the bridge or through viewing windows at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, 125 W. Sunset Way, through November.

Visitors can take self-guided tours of the hatchery daily, but the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery offers guided tours on weekends through Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

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More kokanee return as community works to restore species

December 4, 2012

Homeowner funds $175,000 culvert project

Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon swim Nov. 27 in the restored stretch of Ebright Creek at Wally Pereyra’s property in the 100 block of East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast. By Greg Farrar

Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon — a landlocked cousin of sockeye and a species noted for distinctive red coloration — dwindled in recent decades, since before Wally Pereyra moved into a house along Ebright Creek in 1973.

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Darigold donates water for Lake Sammamish kokanee

November 6, 2012

Darigold joined the effort in recent weeks to preserve dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery announced Oct. 26.

The downtown Issaquah dairy is donating water from a well to the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer for the hatchery to use in the ongoing effort to restore kokanee. The contribution from Darigold should save the hatchery about $50,000 over the program’s anticipated lifespan through 2021.

Experts said the Darigold water is ideal for kokanee due to consistent quality and temperature. Using the water allows hatchery teams to prevent the fish from imprinting on Issaquah Creek water, and instead allows fry to imprint on Ebright, Laughing Jacobs and Lewis creeks.

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Tribal tales from a kokanee salmon, as told to Dallas Cross

October 2, 2012

Dallas Cross

Before the Ice Age my ancestral sockeye salmon bearing our tribal name, oncorhynchus nerka, regularly came from the ocean to Lake Sammamish to find mates and reproduce in its streams. As it got colder, a huge glacier cut off the escape of the tribe to Puget Sound. Being trapped, we had to adapt to living our entire lives in fresh water.

It was difficult at first, but soon we were feeding on the small daphnia or water fleas living in the lake. Because daphnia are not as big as krill in the ocean, our size got smaller. Our tribe enjoyed less swimming distance for a lifecycle and we were glad not to be eaten by big salt-water fish and seals. We became land-locked in the lake and its streams. We adapted and survived.

We did retain some traditions of our sea-run ancestors, such as only living three to five years, turning red to spawn, running up streams to lay and fertilize our eggs, and dying afterward. Our short life spans allowed us to make rapid genetic changes in response to climate changes and food availability.

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Lake Sammamish kokanee need long-term fix

September 25, 2012

Dallas Cross

Oncorhynchus nerka, our kokanee salmon in Lake Sammamish, is a threatened native species with greatly reduced numbers spawning in streams feeding the lake.

Most of their historical spawning areas are now denied by barriers or degraded as a result of land development.

Until recently, Lake Sammamish kokanee have not been included with other salmon species in conservation measures and have been low in profile for public concern.

For the past several years, an effort of the environmentally concerned and governmental communities adjacent to Lake Sammamish have participated in defining the problem, setting goals and taking action to address the threatened loss of the kokanee.

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Where have all the kokanee salmon gone?

July 17, 2012

Dallas Cross

For 5 million years, an ancient class of salmon has been swimming in lakes and streams once connected to the Pacific Ocean. They are kokanee, a small species of freshwater salmon.

Kokanee live in Lake Sammamish and spawn in its creeks. Their scientific name is Oncorhynchus nerka. It is a combination of hooked-nose in Latin together with a complex, Latin-Polish name for red salmon. They share the nerka name with their ancestral, but genetically distinct, sockeye salmon. The name, kokanee, comes from the Okanagan-Salish language and means red fish.

Lake Sammamish kokanee embrace their red fish name when they return in November through January to their birth creeks to spawn. In the lake, they are mostly silver with small scales, not spotted like trout, and have a distinctively forked tail. At spawning time, the bodies of males turn a bright red with green heads and a hooked nose. The females’ bodies turn red with a faint green stripe.

Spawning pairs seek gravel beds in the same streams where they were hatched. In these streams, they move gravel around making redds in which the female lays eggs to be fertilized by the ever-attendant male. The eggs incubate in the gravel redds for three to four months during which an alevin with an egg sac forms. Alevin then absorb the sac and mature into kokanee fry. The fry wait for a stream temperature of about 52 degrees and a dark night to leave their gravel beds and make a run downstream to the lake.

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Lake Sammamish kokanee fry release starts Earth Day celebration

April 10, 2012

Jessica Leguizamon watches kokanee salmon fry swim away from her Dixie cup into Laughing Jacobs Creek as her sister Sabrina waits her turn and their grandfather Gary Smith looks on during the 2011 release. County environmental scientist Hans Berge makes sure the procedure is done properly. By Greg Farrar

Conservationists plodded along rain-soaked creek banks last autumn to collect mature Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon in a soggy slog and pluck fish from a handful of streams to preserve the fading species.

The groups responsible for the salmon run restoration effort plan to return to Laughing Jacobs Creek on April 19 to release minuscule fry — a sign of success for the local, county, state and federal agencies entwined in the preservation program.

The annual kokanee fry release celebrates the ongoing push to restore the declining kokanee population in Lake Sammamish and launches Earth Day observances in the area. The community is invited to participate and learn about the salmon species — a landlocked cousin of sockeye — and the preservation program.

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Kokanee fundraiser nets almost $10,000 for preservation

April 3, 2012

Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon supporters raised almost $10,000 last month to protect the disappearing fish species.

Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and Coho Café organized a March 16 fundraiser to net dollars for a kokanee restoration program.

The sold-out event raised funds from ticket sales for a reception at the Watershed Science Center on the hatchery grounds and a silent wine auction benefit.

Matt Baerwalde, a Snoqualmie Nation representative, presented a $5,000 check to FISH Executive Director Jane Kuechle for the kokanee spawning program.

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Fundraiser to aid dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee

March 13, 2012

The message from groups toiling to save a fish species from extinction is simple and stark: SOS, for Save Our Salmon.

Kokanee S.O.S. is a planned fundraiser organized by Coho Café and Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery to aid the diminishing Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon population. The restaurant and the nonprofit organization are planning a March 23 fundraiser to benefit kokanee restoration efforts.

“This possible extinction is literally happening right in our own backyard and if a community as educated and affluent as King County cannot turn this critical situation around, then I’m not sure there is hope for any people to protect a dwindling and important resource,” said Heather VanDorn, Coho Café Catering manager.

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