Issaquah schools face end of Salmon in the Classroom program

December 25, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 25, 2010

The salmon — or, more specifically, salmon eggs — return to a Clark Elementary School classroom each year.

But fourth- and fifth-grade teacher Liza Rickey could face a change in the curriculum next month: the end of the Salmon in the Classroom program.

In the program, students raise salmon, learn about water quality and salmon habitat, and discover the relationship between Issaquah Creek and Puget Sound.

State legislators eliminated dollars for the program in a round of budget cuts during the Dec. 11 special session. The program is a casualty of cuts as state leaders face a gaping budget hole.

“It’s such a worthy project for the kids to see,” Rickey said. “It’s hands on, it’s real world. It’s a very important resource in our area, and now it’s not even available for them to experience in that way.”

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Concerns about coho salmon persist as hatchery spawns other species

November 30, 2010

Jed Varney (left) and John Kugen spawn a Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon last month at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Contributed

Lake Sammamish kokanee conservation program continues

The small coho salmon run has left the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery about 750,000 eggs short.

The inexplicable shortfall means the hatchery must truck in coho eggs from the Wallace Creek Hatchery in Sultan in order to meet the 1.2 million-egg goal for the year.

Biologists remain puzzled about the decline in coho, but poor ocean conditions could be a factor in the drop-off.

Teams at the Issaquah hatchery had trapped 475 coho — and did not allow any fish to pass upstream to spawn — by late November. The number represents a fraction of the fish the hatchery spawns during a normal coho run. Read more

Number of returning coho salmon drops

October 19, 2010

Hatchery may not have enough eggs for schools, co-ops

In any given year, about 30,000 coho salmon pass through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard, swimming to rivers and tributaries like Issaquah Creek, on a mission to reproduce before they die.

This year, coho counts are down, with only 3,608 coho swimming through the locks, as of Oct. 6. The Muckleshoot Tribe recorded the last low of 6,000 coho in 2002 and the highest run of 47,000 coho in 2000.

Many of the fish that swim through the locks make their way to Issaquah Creek and the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Others return to Bear Creek, the Cedar River and the other major streams of the Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish watershed.

As of Oct. 18, about 400 coho had arrived at the hatchery, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery Executive Director Gestin Suttle said.

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Why do salmon counts vary from year to year?

October 2, 2010

NEW — 1 p.m. Oct. 2, 2010

Salmon populations have booms and busts, just like the stock market. And, like the market, some salmon are experiencing a recession of sorts — some of it due to natural causes, and others because of human-related factors.

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery docents learned about salmon population trends during a training session Sept. 11 in preparation for tours and Issaquah’s biggest festival of the year, Salmon Days.

“We’re always trying to give our docents a little something extra,” said Gestin Suttle, executive director of Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. “We’re always trying to learn more about the salmon. We always get questions that delve a little deeper into conditions.”

About 50 volunteers listened as Ed Connor, an aquatic ecologist with Seattle City Light, wheeled through a PowerPoint presentation and congratulated them on their perceptive questions regarding fish.

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Volunteers share the story of migrating coho, chinook

September 28, 2010

Jeanette Ludwig-Hughes, of Issaquah (left), a first-time volunteer docent for Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, teaches a Cougar Ridge Elementary third-grade class about salmon next to the coho salmon sculptures Finley and Gillda Sept. 23 at the hatchery. By Greg Farrar

A record number of docents registered in September to volunteer at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

These locals are now prepared to instruct the masses and answer countless questions about chinook salmon, coho salmon and their Pacific Northwest underwater brethren.

Usually, about a dozen new volunteers sign up annually, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery Executive Director Gestin Suttle said. This year, about 40 first-time volunteers signed up to volunteer at the hatchery.

Beverly Lee, volunteer coordinator for FISH, said many of the volunteers began shadowing tours after their Sept. 11 training day.

“We probably have about eight of them that are actually leading tours now,” Lee said.

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City accepts NOAA grant for fish passage

September 14, 2010

Though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration could not fund the entire $3 million cost for a proposed fish passage near the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, the federal agency has agreed to grant $172,375 to design and permit the project.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife — the hatchery owner and operator — has agreed to match the NOAA grant, bringing the total to $344,750. Read more

More chinook reach Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

August 31, 2010

Chinook salmon started to trickle into the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery last week, about a month after the first salmon reached Issaquah Creek.

The latest arrivals appeared at the hatchery a year to the day after the first chinook returned in 2009.

“This is really more on target with our normal first arrival,” Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery Executive Director Gestin Suttle said Aug. 26, the day after the chinook arrived.

The fish had reached the hatchery weir by Aug. 25. Suttle said hatchery workers and FISH volunteers had not yet been able to determine the gender of the four chinook.

The hatchery expects more chinook in the weeks ahead, as the salmon return to Issaquah Creek to spawn. FISH docents start leading hatchery tours in mid-September.

The mid-July arrival of the first chinook — the earliest in recent memory — surprised hatchery workers and FISH volunteers.

The hatchery recorded the arrival of the first chinook — a 25-pound hen, or female — in Issaquah Creek last year on Aug. 25.

More chinook reach Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

August 26, 2010

Chinook salmon swim in Issaquah Creek near the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. By Larry Franks

NEW — 5 p.m. Aug. 26, 2010

Chinook salmon started to trickle to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery on Wednesday, about a month after the first salmon reached Issaquah Creek.

The latest arrivals appeared at the hatchery a year to the day after the first chinook returned in 2009.

“This is really more on target with our normal first arrival,” Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery Executive Director Gestin Suttle said Thursday afternoon.

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Conservation program hopes to boost kokanee population

December 1, 2009

The threatened kokanee salmon could receive a lift from a regional effort to restore habitat and increase the kokanee population. Read more

Ammonia leak kills Issaquah Creek salmon

October 13, 2009

Ammonia released into the East Fork of Issaquah Creek from the Darigold plant killed dozens of fish last week. Read more

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