Save Lake Sammamish founder Joanna Buehler departs

January 3, 2012

 Joanna Buehler, founder and president of Save Lake Sammamish, has planted and kept runoff-filtering native wetland species on the lakeshore of her longtime South Cove home. By Greg Farrar

Issaquah trailblazer led efforts to protect lake from threats for decades

Joanna Buehler earned top honors for environmental efforts for decades spent on a difficult struggle to shield Lake Sammamish from constant pressures from a population boom occurring along the tree-lined shore.

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Off the Press

October 11, 2011

Some things in life just don’t make sense

Kathleen Merrill Press managing editor

In the words of “60 Minutes” writer Andy Rooney, “some things just don’t make sense.” So, in honor of him following his recent departure from the Sunday-evening news program, I’d like to pick up for the moment his curmudgeon mantle and mention some things that don’t make sense to me.

What is with the state beginning to even further track cold medicine purchases? I get that police don’t want us to mix up batches of meth at home in our kitchens or bathrooms. But keeping track of when I have a cold or how often my allergies act up seems like a waste of someone’s time and of taxpayers’ money. I have to show my driver’s license to make a purchase and I then get put into a database, and what will happen if the pollen is too heavy in any given season? Police will come bust down my door? Good grief.

When we get notices of students graduating from college, we often get ones that say a student got a general studies degree. What on earth does that mean? You can now study studying? What kind of job do you get with that degree? And did you need to go to college for it? What are the required courses? What are the electives?

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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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Lake Sammamish kokanee do not qualify for federal protection

October 3, 2011

NEW — 11:15 a.m. Oct. 3, 2011

Federal fish and wildlife officials decided Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon do not qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

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

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.

Local environmental groups, governments and the Snoqualmie Tribe petitioned in 2007 to list the landlocked salmon species as endangered. In the meantime, local, county and state agencies started spawning kokanee at the Issaquah hatchery to aid the species’ survival.

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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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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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Lawmakers back measure to restore endangered listings, keep kokanee proposal afloat

July 27, 2011

NEW — 8 p.m. July 27, 2011

In a rare bipartisan effort, the U.S. House of Representatives backed a proposal Wednesday 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 Belfair 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.

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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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