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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20 reasons to ♥ Issaquah

July 2, 2011

The spectacular landscape is a reason to love Issaquah. By Connor Lee

Discover 20 reasons to love Issaquah, from the highest Tiger Mountain peak to the Lake Sammamish shoreline, and much more in between. The community includes icons and traits not found anywhere else, all in a postcard-perfect setting. The unique qualities — Issa-qualities? — start at the city’s name and extend into every nook and neighborhood. (The lineup is not arranged in a particular order, because ranking the city’s pre-eminent qualities seems so unfair.)

Salmon Days

The annual salmon-centric celebration is stitched into the city’s fabric. Salmon Days serves as a last hurrah before autumn, a touchstone for old-timers and a magnet for tourists. The street fair consistently ranks among the top destinations in the Evergreen State and, for a time last year, as the best festival on earth — in the $250,000-to-$749,000 budget category, anyway.

Issaquah Alps

The majestic title for the forested peaks surrounding the city, the Issaquah Alps, is a catchall term for Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains. (Credit the late mountaineer and conservationist Harvey Manning for the sobriquet.) The setting is a playground for outdoors enthusiasts. Trails — some official and others less so — for hikers, bikers and equestrians crisscross the mountains, like haphazard tic-tac-toe patterns.

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Native kokanee fry released in historic ceremony

April 19, 2011

Seventy-five kokanee fry swam in a small camping cooler by Laughing Jacobs Creek, unaware they were surrounded by federal, state, county and city administrators, as well as concerned citizens — all people intent on helping the native salmon survive in the wild.

The Issaquah Salmon Hatchery teamed up with the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group and dignitaries from the city all the way to the federal level for the second annual kokanee fry release at Hans Jensen Park on April 18.

Last year, the group released the kokanee at Ebright Creek in Sammamish, and next year the release will be celebrated at Lewis Creek in Issaquah.

Jessica Leguizamon, 10, watches kokanee salmon fry swim away from her Dixie cup into Laughing Jacobs Creek as her sister Sabrina, 5, waits her turn and their grandfather, Gary Smith, looks on. County environmental scientist Hans Berge makes sure the release is done properly. By Greg Farrar

“This fry release is a critical part of our kokanee recovery and restoration efforts,” David St. John, Department of Natural Resources government relations administrator, said.

He outlined the group’s goals: preventing kokanee extinction and restoring a diverse and native habitat for the salmon.

“In our last run there was probably 100 fish, so we’re at low numbers, extremely low numbers,” St. John said.

A normal run for kokanee usually extends into the hundreds or thousands, he said in a later phone interview.

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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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Kokanee salmon fry released in historic ceremony

April 18, 2011

NEW — 5:40 p.m. April 18, 2011

Seventy-five kokanee fry swam in a small camping cooler by Laughing Jacobs Creek, unaware they were surrounded by federal, state, county and city administrators, as well as concerned citizens — all people intent on helping the native salmon survive in the wild.

The Issaquah Salmon Hatchery teamed up with the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group and dignitaries from the city all the way to the federal level for the second annual kokanee fry release at Hans Jensen Park on April 18.

Last year, the group released the kokanee at Ebright Creek in Sammamish, and next year the release will be celebrated at Lewis Creek in Issaquah.

“This fry release is a critical part of our kokanee recovery and restoration efforts,” said David St. John, Department of Natural Resources government relations administrator.

He outlined the group’s goals: preventing kokanee extinction and restoring a diverse and native habitat for the salmon.

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Join leaders to release threatened kokanee salmon

April 16, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. April 16, 2011

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

King County and Eastside leaders plan to gather along Lake Sammamish on Monday to release kokanee salmon fry into the wild.

King County Executive Dow Constantine, Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger, Sammamish Mayor Don Gerend and Bellevue Mayor Don Davidson, plus representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and local organizations plan to participate and mar the conclusion of another season of Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon restoration work.

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What’s in the lake — mud eels?

April 5, 2011

There are recollections in the archives of the Issaquah History Museums from longtime residents about eels in Issaquah Creek. Some tell of using or selling them for fishing bait.

Dallas Cross

Years ago, I watched folks gathering “mud eels” for bait from the flats near the mouth of Issaquah creek. Knowing that plastic worms are good lures for Lake Sammamish bass, I wanted to know more about what the artificial bait might be imitating. Could it be eels?

Upon inquiry, I found that no eels, the elongated fish with a toothy mouth, are in the Lake Sammamish watershed. So, what are these aqueous critters?

The answer was partially provided last April, when I volunteered to trap and count returning kokanee salmon fry for the Bellevue-Issaquah Chapter of Trout Unlimited. On several of our trap pulls, small, snake-like creatures were captured along with the kokanee fry. They looked like eels and I put one in a glass jar to examine and photograph.

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FISH executive director to step down March 31

March 15, 2011

Some details about salmon eluded Gestin Suttle in April 2003, as she settled in as the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery executive director.

“I knew some basic things about salmon, but I would not have called myself an expert by any means,” she recalled. “There was a sharp learning curve for me.”

Gestin Suttle

Now, eight years and countless coho later, Suttle is a sought-after source for salmon information.

“Every day, I learn something new,” she said.

Suttle plans to resign from the salmon-centric organization March 31. The former journalist and Sammamish resident accepted a position as a public relations coordinator for the local YWCA.

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FISH executive director to step down March 31

March 13, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. March 13, 2011

Gestin Suttle, executive director of the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery since 2003, has announced plans to resign from the organization at the end of the month.

Suttle, a Sammamish resident and a former journalist, has accepted a position as the public relations coordinator for the local YWCA organization.

“I am confident that I am leaving at an optimum time for FISH because it is on firm financial footing (in spite of the down economy), and this is a period of stability, with the extremely talented Celina Steiger about to celebrate her fourth year as our education coordinator and the very skilled Beverly Lee firmly beside her in the volunteer coordinator role,” Suttle wrote in a message to FISH members and donors Saturday.

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