May 27, 2015
One year ago, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and King County Executive Dow Constantine knelt with schoolchildren to release kokanee salmon fry into a Sammamish creek and celebrate a $300,000 habitat-restoration project.
Down to about 50 spawning fish in 2008, the kokanee, a relative of the sockeye that spends its entire life in fresh water, made a stirring recovery in 2012 with more than 14,000 returning to Lake Sammamish tributaries, about 4,500 of those to Ebright Creek.
September 22, 2014
NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 22, 2014
Spot the Spawners in the Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed this fall.
Salmon are returning to streams and rivers around Puget Sound. Watch for these natural beauties at the viewing sites around the watersheds as they make their seasonal journey. Local viewpoints include:
Lake Sammamish State Park — 2000 N.W. Sammamish Road, through October. Learn more here.
Issaquah Creek — Self-guided tours along the creek, culminating at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, 125 W. Sunset Way, through Nov. 16. Learn more here.
April 29, 2014
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.
“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.”
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 email@example.com or 888-3639.
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.
December 4, 2012
Homeowner funds $175,000 culvert project
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.
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.
October 2, 2012
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.
September 25, 2012
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.
July 17, 2012
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.