Videos tell story of salmon recovery in state

October 1, 2013

All around Washington state, salmon are returning from years in the Pacific Ocean to their home rivers, much to the delight of school children, anglers, scientists, and businesses.

A major annual salmon migration from sea to river happens around the state every fall. Community festivals, salmon bakes and 10K runs are scheduled to recognize the annual event.

The Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office is unveiling a 10-minute video that documents the state’s effort to bring them back from the brink of extinction. See it here.

The office also is releasing six, two-minute videos that focus on those affected by the decline of salmon populations and those working to restore salmon and salmon habitat. See them here.

“These videos help us tell the story of why salmon are important, why they are in decline and what we are doing to stop that decline,” Kaleen Cottingham, the director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which oversees the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office, said in a press release. “Salmon are so important to Washington, and hopefully these videos will give people a better understanding of why.”

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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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Preston meeting to address agriculture, environment

March 13, 2012

King County is offering workshops to address field drainage issues related to fish and wildlife regulations.

Maintaining farm field drainage ditches has become complicated during the past 20 years because many ditches provide habitat for chinook salmon and other species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.

“We want to help landowners maintain properly functioning drainage systems affordably and in a way that considers fish and wildlife issues,” said Mark Isaacson, county Water and Land Resources Division director.

The county is hosting workshops from 7-9 p.m. in late March. The initial meeting is at the Preston Community Center, 8625 310th Ave. S.E., March 19. The next meeting is at 21 Acres, 13701 N.E. 171st St., Woodinville, March 20. The last workshop is at Enumclaw High School, 226 Semanski St. S., March 22.

Staffers from the county agriculture program and the King Conservation District plan to show participants how to get coordinated services to complete maintenance projects in a cost-effective, efficient manner.

The workshop topics include project timelines, best management practices, landowner costs, farm plan requirements and how to obtain the necessary permit from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Darigold manager gets probation for Issaquah Creek spill

December 6, 2011

The engineering manager responsible for a fish-killing ammonia spill from the downtown Darigold dairy has been sentenced to probation and community service for the October 2009 incident.

On Dec. 1, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Alice Theiler sentenced Darigold employee Gerald N. Marsland to two years probation and 70 hours of community service for the Issaquah Creek spill. Theiler also imposed a $2,000 fine on Marsland.

Darigold is required to pay a $10,000 fine and pay $60,000 to protect and restore natural resources in the Issaquah Creek watershed as a part of a plea agreement announced in June.

Prosecutors also said Marsland directed repairs and failed to prevent the spill. Prosecutors charged Marsland for violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Marsland’s attorney asked for his client to be sentenced to one year of probation and 50 hours of community service.

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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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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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Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon proposal stays afloat

August 2, 2011

Dave Reichert

In a rare bipartisan effort, the U.S. House of Representatives backed a proposal July 27 to allow officials to add animals and plants to the Endangered Species Act — a measure important to a coming protection decision for Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon.

In a spending bill, House Republicans called for only allowing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to remove species from the endangered list, rather than add others. U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, a powerful Washington Democrat, led the effort to strip the so-called “extinction rider” from the spending bill.

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, Issaquah’s representative in Congress and a Republican, joined 36 other GOP representatives and 187 Democrats to support Dicks’ amendment.

Under a recent legal agreement between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Center for Biological Diversity, the agency is required to decide by the end of the year whether 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.

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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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Darigold pleads guilty in Issaquah Creek spill case

June 21, 2011

Darigold pleaded guilty June 15 to violating the Clean Water Act for a fish-killing ammonia spill into Issaquah Creek.

Under terms of the plea agreement, Darigold plans to work alongside the federal government to develop a corporate environmental compliance plan as part of its sentence.

Including the downtown Issaquah processing facility, Seattle-based Darigold operates 13 processing facilities in five states.

The company must also pay a $10,000 fine and pay $60,000 to protect and restore natural resources in the Issaquah Creek watershed. Darigold also agreed to publicly apologize for the criminal conduct by publishing a statement as a notice or advertisement in The Issaquah Press.

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