Battleground for Legislature runs through Issaquah

October 5, 2010

The battleground for control of the Legislature is on the shores of Lake Sammamish.

Republicans, re-energized after a decade of defeats and defections on the Eastside, hope to shift a handful of lakeside districts back into the GOP column. Incumbent Democrats promise difficult fights to hold the suburban territory in and near Issaquah.

Democrats hold sizeable majorities in Olympia. The party outnumbers Republicans 61-37 in the House of Representatives and 31-18 in the Senate. Gov. Chris Gregoire is also a Democrat.

The effort to change the political calculus is focused on House and Senate races in the 41st, 45th and 48th legislative districts — the upper-middle class communities arranged around Lake Sammamish.

“I think it’s probably a pretty safe bet that the Republicans will pick up some seats, but I don’t know how many,” Washington State University political science professor David Nice said. “My guess is that, no matter who ends up in majority status in either house of the Legislature that the majority is not going to be a very big one.”

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State closes lakes to salmon fishing due to low coho run

October 5, 2010

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has closed lakes Sammamish and Washington to salmon fishing, citing concerns about the limited number of coho salmon.

The salmon fishery on Lake Sammamish is closed until Nov. 30. The closure runs until Oct. 31 on Lake Washington.

The coho run is low and the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery may not collect enough fish to meet egg-take goals. The state said the lakes could reopen to salmon fishing if the run increases in the coming weeks.

Muckleshoot Tribe officials had counted 3,247 coho at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard by Oct. 3. Typical coho runs in the last decade included about 30,000 fish each year. Officials recorded the prior low of 6,000 coho in 2002. The largest-recorded run of 47,000 occurred in 2000.

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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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State closes Lake Sammamish to salmon fishing due to low coho run

September 29, 2010

UPDATED — 2:10 p.m. Sept. 30, 2010

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to close lakes Sammamish and Washington to salmon fishing, citing concerns about the limited number of coho salmon.

The salmon fishery on Lake Sammamish is closed from Saturday until Nov. 30. The closure runs from Saturday until Oct. 31 on Lake Washington.

The coho run is low and the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery may not collect enough fish to meet egg-take goals. The state said the lakes could reopen to salmon fishing if the run increases in the coming weeks.

Muckleshoot Tribe officials had counted 2,552 coho at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard by Monday.

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Frogs can be fun and help your garden

September 7, 2010

This frog was photographed on a peony in Sammamish. Frogs can be helpful in keeping a garden healthy and pest free. By Jeanine Bracco

They can be cute, slimy, freak people out, loud when you’re trying to sleep and children sometimes love to catch them.

Don’t be alarmed if frogs are in your yard — these amphibians mean that you have a healthy environment, free of pesticides and other harmful products.

“They eat insects and a lot of other smaller things that may be harmful to your garden,” said Michael Aguilar, certified professional horticulturalist and lawn and garden specialist at The Grange.

Attracting frogs into your yard can be easy; there are a few things that need to be done in order to do it. Read more

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Dozens of chinook reach Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

September 4, 2010

NEW — 10 a.m. Sept. 4, 2010

Rains and cooler temperatures prompted dozens of mighty chinook salmon to return to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery to spawn.

Hatchery workers opened the fish ladder Sept. 3 to start collecting salmon for the spawning season.

Muckleshoot Tribe officials counted more than 8,000 chinook at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard. The tribe — the official keeper of salmon counts — estimates the return to be below average this year.

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Summer weather means trips to the lake — and algae blooms

August 13, 2010

NEW — 1 p.m. Aug. 13, 2010

King County boasts more than 500 lakes — but slimy algae can turn a refreshing dip into a stinky mess.

The county Water and Land Resources Division has cataloged algae blooms in lakes Sammamish, Washington, Horseshoe, Hicks, Wilderness, Walker and Echo this summer.

Learn more about King County lake management and current algae blooms here.

Algae occur naturally in some lakes during the summer, thanks to the right mixture of ample sunlight, water temperatures and nutrients. Many algae varieties make for a nuisance, some might smell bad as they decompose and others can be harmful if swallowed by people or pets.

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Damaged Lake Sammamish data buoy placed back in service

July 27, 2010

The data-gathering buoy damaged by vandals the weekend of July 17 has been placed back into service on Lake Sammamish. Contributed

Vandals damaged a county data buoy bobbing in Lake Sammamish in mid-July, and the cash-strapped county might be unable to repair or replace damaged equipment crammed aboard the float.

King County Sheriff’s Office and county environmental officials said suspects flipped the buoy, causing a gap in the weather and water-quality information gathered by the device. County staffers do not yet know if equipment can be salvaged from the damaged buoy.

The buoy had been returned to Lake Sammamish by late last week. Though temperature and relative humidity probes had been damaged beyond repair, the buoy suffered little damage.

“We definitely dodged a bullet,” King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks spokesman Doug Williams said.

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Vandals cause $60,000 in damage to Lake Sammamish buoy

July 22, 2010

A damaged environmental buoy in Lake Sammamish floats after vandals flipped the buoy during the weekend. Contributed

NEW — 5 p.m. July 22, 2010

Vandals damaged a county data buoy bobbing in Lake Sammamish during the weekend, and the cash-strapped county might be unable to repair or replace the damaged equipment.

The suspects flipped the buoy, causing a gap in the weather and water-quality information gathered by the device. County staffers do not yet know if equipment can be salvaged from the damaged buoy. Replacement costs could reach about $60,000.

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Greenway pioneer receives top environmental honor

July 13, 2010

Mountains to Sound Greenway pioneer Ted Thomsen — “the unsung hero” behind the 101-mile greenbelt — received the highest environmental honor in Issaquah in a City Hall ceremony last week.

The late Thomsen received the Ruth Kees Award for a Sustainable Community — the prize named for the late environmentalist, a tireless advocate for open space preservation. The city selected Thomsen for the yearslong effort to establish a billboard-free greenbelt from Seattle to Central Washington along Interstate 90.

Cynthia Welti, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust executive director, nominated Thomsen for the honor.

“He was essential to bringing the greenway vision to fruition,” she recalled in the nomination. “Ted is the unsung hero of the launch of this tremendous coalition effort.”

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