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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Federal government declines to list Lake Sammamish kokanee as endangered

October 4, 2011

Population is in decline, but local stock is not ‘distinct’ from other kokanee

Federal officials decided dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon do not qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act, prompting a chorus of disapproval from local officials.

The species’ decline concerned U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officials, but did not merit the fish being listed under the act. The agency announced the decision Oct. 3.

The once-abundant kokanee declined in recent decades, perhaps due to construction near creeks, increased predators, disease or changes in water quality.

In recent years, the number of salmon in the late-fall and early-winter run has dwindled to fewer than 1,000 in some seasons. Kokanee return to only a handful of creeks — Ebright, Laughing Jacobs and Lewis — to spawn. Scientists estimated the total 2010 run at 58 fish, including the 40 kokanee spawned at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery in a last-ditch effort to save the species.

The decision came after the agency spent four years to review the Lake Sammamish stock’s health.

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Issaquah hatchery could collect fewer salmon eggs as cost-cutting measure

September 27, 2011

The unsettled economy is threatening the chinook-salmon spawning program at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has proposed reducing the number of chinook eggs collected at Issaquah and other state-run hatcheries to cut costs as the state faces a $1.4 billion shortfall.

The proposal recommends for the local hatchery to collect about 1.3 million eggs — about 1 million fewer than hatchery crews planned to collect.

“Issaquah is not a sole target in this,” said Doug Hatfield, hatchery operations manager for the region encompassing Issaquah. “This is a decision that the agency put forth to distribute this impact throughout Puget Sound and on the coast.”

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Opportunities abound to see migrating salmon

September 21, 2011

NEW — 2 p.m. Sept. 21, 2011

Summer is on the wane and autumn starts Friday, so the time is right for salmon to complete a final journey from the Pacific Ocean to Issaquah Creek and other King County streams.

Though the salmon return so far is generally smaller than the pre-spawning season forecast, opportunities abound to see migrating salmon in the Lake Washington, Cedar River and Lake Sammamish watershed as chinook, sockeye, coho and chum complete a long sojourn.

King County calls the event Salmon SEEson.

Salmon can soon be spotted at parks, along trails and at events sponsored throughout the Puget Sound region. In many cases, naturalists can help visitors spot the fish and learn about the salmon life cycle.

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Planners propose 11 projects to restore chinook, kokanee habitat

August 23, 2011

On the East Fork of Issaquah Creek at Third Avenue Northeast and Northeast Creek Way, plans call for the rockery bank wall to be removed and a log weir to be created. By Greg Farrar

Creeks leading to Lake Sammamish could serve as staging areas in the years ahead for a bold plan to restore salmon habitat.

The regional Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group has proposed 11 projects in Issaquah and Sammamish to restore habitat for chinook salmon — a species protected under the Endangered Species Act — and dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon.

The once-abundant kokanee has declined in recent decades, perhaps due to construction near creeks, increased predators, disease or changes in water quality. Scientists estimated the total 2010 run at 58 fish, including the 40 kokanee spawned at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery in a last-ditch effort to save the species.

The proposed projects range from colossal — such as rerouting Laughing Jacobs Creek through Lake Sammamish State Park — to small — adding plants in the Lewis Creek delta, for instance.

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Protection decision is due soon for Lake Sammamish kokanee

July 19, 2011

The long process to add the dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon to the endangered species list inched ahead July 12, as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agreed to make decisions soon about the salmon species and more than 700 animal and plant species under consideration for federal protection.

Under a legal agreement between the agency and environmentalists, the Fish & Wildlife Service is required to decide by the end of the year whether the Lake Sammamish kokanee proposal should proceed.

Taylor Goforth, a spokeswoman for the Fish & Wildlife Service in Lacey, said the agreement does not change the plan, because the agency intends to release a decision during the same timeframe.

“It’s still under review and we’re aware of the deadline and we plan to make it,” she said.

Local environmental groups, governments and the Snoqualmie Tribe petitioned in 2007 to list the landlocked salmon species as endangered.

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Decision is closer on endangered status for Lake Sammamish kokanee

July 12, 2011

NEW — 11:55 a.m. July 12, 2011

The long process to add the dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon to the endangered species list inched ahead Tuesday, as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agreed to make decisions soon about the salmon species and more than 700 animal and plant species under consideration for federal protection.

Under a legal agreement between the agency and environmentalists, the Fish & Wildlife Service is required to decide by the end of the year if the Lake Sammamish kokanee proposal should proceed.

Local environmental groups, governments and the Snoqualmie Tribe petitioned in 2007 to list the landlocked salmon species as endangered.

Kokanee used to thrive in Lake Sammamish. The freshwater salmon species formed the foundation of a robust ecosystem and a recreational fishery. Snoqualmies fished for the plentiful salmon as a staple.

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Lake Sammamish level concerns homeowners

May 3, 2011

County announces plan to unclog lake-to-river transition

King County environmental managers plan to tackle the high water level in Lake Sammamish, after aquatic weeds and sediment clogged the outlet from the lake to the Sammamish River.

The problem — although centered at county-run Marymoor Park along the lake’s northern shore — reflects a common complaint among lakeside residents in Issaquah and Sammamish about the water level.

“It’s really important that we remove these things. Particularly at the north end up around Marymoor Park is a real problem, and it’s spread to the rest of the lake,” Save Lake Sammamish founder Joanna Buehler said. “For real control, you need everybody around the lake to work on it.”

The effort calls for yanking invasive plants, increased mowing near the transition zone from lake to river and enacting other steps along the lake in order to address levels along the shoreline.

County Executive Dow Constantine said the series of steps is necessary to reduce seasonal flooding along the lake.

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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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