King County Council celebrates Earth Day

April 19, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. April 19, 2011

King County Council members offered support for local, national and international efforts to protect the environment, and proclaimed Friday as Earth Day in King County.

Earth Day started 41 years ago to raise awareness about the environment and then expanded into a global event celebrated in 175 countries.

“In East King County, we are recognizing the goals of Earth Day this week with a celebration of the native Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, the Issaquah representative, said in a statement Monday after the council issued the proclamation.

Leaders from several agencies and cities gathered Monday to release kokanee fry into Lake Sammamish.

“With the collaboration of many government agencies and private organizations, kokanee recovery efforts include releases of tiny kokanee fry from the hatchery supplementation program into creeks around the lake this week,” Lambert continued. “The fish will be able to thrive as a result of our healthy environment.”

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Effort to preserve dwindling species is a team effort

January 18, 2011

Darin Combs, Issaquah Salmon Hatchery manager, lifts a screen to reveal a tray of 3,100 fertilized Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon eggs. By Greg Farrar

Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon used to turn the creeks branching from the lake to the color of rust as thousands of fish headed upstream to spawn.

The once-plentiful fish has declined in recent decades, perhaps due to construction near the tributary creeks, increased predators, disease or changes in water quality.

But the imperiled fish has received a boost from local, state and federal officials in recent seasons.

Scientists started to comb the tributary creeks for spawning salmon late last year and, during the ongoing spawning season, King County and local, state and federal agencies coordinated efforts to restore the species. Read more

Cities asked to restrict shoreline development

May 18, 2010

The federal government has called for stricter environmental standards along Lake Sammamish, prompting protests from officials in Issaquah and other cities along the lake.

The standards — outlined in a March e-mail from the Federal Emergency Management Agency — aim to limit development within 250 feet of the Lake Sammamish shoreline. But municipal officials said the proposed change could limit public agencies and homeowners alike from building along the scenic lake. Even road construction — such as widening East Lake Sammamish Parkway, for instance — might be impacted by the proposal.

Under the proposal, landowners within 250 feet of the lake could not increase a building in size by more than 10 percent. The measure also aims to limit property owners from adding more than 10 percent of paved roads or roofing within the buffer.

The e-mail originated at the FEMA office in Bothell.

Citing a 2008 National Marine Fisheries Service report, the FEMA message recommended broad standards to restrict new development within 250 feet of fish-bearing lakes and tributaries within floodplains across the Puget Sound region.

FEMA prepared the proposed regulations in response to the report. The report said the National Flood Insurance Program influences development along lake shorelines and therefore has a direct impact on shoreline habitat.

The report said several species — including salmon and orca varieties, and a steelhead species — could be jeopardized or impacted if officials did not adopt the shoreline standards.

But the report did not include Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon among the species in trouble, although environmentalists and scientists said development along Lake Sammamish and tributary creeks has pushed the fish to the brink of extinction.

Issaquah and Sammamish officials, alarmed at the possible implications for private and civic development along the lake, pushed back against the proposal.

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Environmentalists wait to learn fate of Lake Sammamish kokanee

February 23, 2010

Hans Berge, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks biologist, holds kokanee salmon retrieved from Lewis Creek during a restoration project. Contributed

Conservationists continue to await a decision by the federal government about the status of the dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon — years after rules required the federal government to act.

Environmentalists and local government officials estimate the population of adult kokanee at a few hundred. Before a species can receive protection under the Endangered Species Act, the animal or plant must be placed on the federal list of threatened endangered species.

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Environmentalists wait to learn fate of Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon

February 16, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 16, 2010

Conservationists await a decision by the federal government about the status of the dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon — almost two years after the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recommended the species for review.

Environmentalists have petitioned for the salmon to be included on the endangered species list. Before a species can receive protection under the Endangered Species Act, the animal or plant must be placed on the federal list of and threatened endangered species.

After the agency receives a petition, officials must determine within 90 days whether the petition merits further action. Officials issued the initial finding in May 2008, and recommended the species for further review.

But a backlog of endangered-species petitions has slowed a decision on the salmon, Jeff Chan, a fish biologist with the federal Fish & Wildlife Service at the agency’s Lacey office, said last week.

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County Council urges protection for Lake Samm kokanee

July 7, 2009

Conservationists seeking to protect threatened Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon received a boost last week from King County leaders. Read more

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