January 18, 2011
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
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.
February 23, 2010
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.
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.
July 7, 2009
Conservationists seeking to protect threatened Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon received a boost last week from King County leaders. Read more