Beavers cause sinkhole at state park

July 6, 2010

Small sinkholes opened at Lake Sammamish State Park last week, after beavers burrowed beneath a park road.

Rangers cordoned off the area, and placed plywood sheets atop the holes to prevent parkgoers from crashing through.

Beavers built dams on a nearby creek, raising the prospect of flooding upstream during heavy rainfall. The state could hire a trapper to remove the animals if the problem persists.

Sammamish faced a similar problem last month. The city hired a trapper to remove beavers from Laughing Jacobs Creek after the animals constructed a dam on the waterway. The blockage caused the water level in Beaver Lake to rise — and submerged some docks — during rainy weather last month.

Kokanee fry released into Ebright Creek

May 4, 2010

When Wally Pereyra was a fisheries biologist, his first project was rehabbing trout in a stream in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

By the time he moved to his current farmland on the Sammamish Plateau in 1973, he was “imprinted with stream ecology,” he said.

“The stream is a major part of the farm that I moved into,” he said. “The kokanee were a part of the landscape in the fall.”

A hodgepodge of elected officials, government scientists, school children and citizen volunteers met April 21 on Pereyra’s property to release some 200 Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon fry into Ebright Creek.

Ray Mullen, of the Snoqualmie Tribe, banged a ceremonial drum while the fry were dumped from three coolers into the creek on an overcast spring day. Most people in attendance wore boots to trudge through the spongy terrain around the creek.

“I feel like we’re taking a step toward recovery today, instead of steps toward extinction,” said David St. John, chairman of the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group.

The fry released April 21 were part of a larger group of 37,000 fry released into Ebright, Laughing Jacobs and Lewis creeks in April.

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Bar codes help kokanee salmon in their survival

April 20, 2010

Fish Journal

Under the direction of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the efforts of the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group to increase dwindling kokanee salmon numbers in Lake Sammamish are now underway.

Kokanee salmon have been entwined within the history and culture of native and immigrant residents of Lake Sammamish since the Ice Ages. See a previous Fish Journal piece, “Tribal Tales of the Kokanee Trout Clan,” published in The Issaquah Press and on the Web here.

The Kokanee Work Group is comprised of state, county and city municipal officials, conservation organizations, and individuals from King County and surrounding communities. All are highly motivated to save the late run species of native kokanee from an extinction experience similar to that of the early run kokanee in Issaquah Creek.

This winter, fish biologists captured male and female Lake Sammamish kokanee returning to several tributary creeks. More than 34,000 eggs were harvested, fertilized with milt from males and placed in incubation trays at the Cedar River and Chambers Creek state fish hatcheries. Read more

Scientists release kokanee fry to re-establish species

April 13, 2010

On a rain-soaked night late last month, scientists gathered along the banks of Ebright Creek to complete the latest step in a monthslong experiment meant to pull a species from the edge of extinction.

The team used buckets to transfer Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon fry — a few millimeters long and not much larger than a paperclip — from aerated coolers for the last leg of the journey from a hatchery to the wild.

Months earlier, biologists and ecologists collected mature kokanee from the same creek, as part of a last-ditch effort to boost the population of the dwindling species. From Ebright, Lewis and Laughing Jacobs creeks, teams took the fish to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, where teams harvested almost 35,000 eggs.

Scientists had not attempted to raise Lake Sammamish kokanee at a hatchery before. Throughout fall and winter, workers at the state hatcheries in Ravensdale and Lakewood raised the fry from fluorescent orange eggs.

Hans Berge, a King County senior ecologist, and a team gathered March 25 to release about 14,000 fry into the same creeks where he and others netted spawning salmon last fall. In a reverse maneuver, the team plunked the fledgling kokanee into the creeks on a cloudy, wet night.

The nighttime release offered less risk of predators picking off the fry.

Scientists deposited the fry far upstream from Lake Sammamish to allow the fish time to “imprint” on the creeks. Biologists hope the fry memorize the characteristics of the waterways and someday return to the creeks as stop-sign-red, mature salmon to spawn.

Berge estimates the fry swam from the creeks into the lake on the same night as the release. Inside Lake Sammamish, the fry feed on microscopic organisms called zooplankton. Only a fraction of the fry will reach maturity and — in three or four years — return to the creeks to spawn.

Within the next few weeks, scientists will release another 20,000 kokanee fry into Ebright, Lewis and Laughing Jacobs creeks. Read more

Spawning Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon decline

February 2, 2009

Dallas Cross Dallas Cross

Fish Journal

A census of the number of remaining kokanee salmon on their way to spawning in creeks feeding Lake Sammamish has been announced.  The total number of spawning adult kokanee was 90, significantly less than the 147 counted last year and 713 counted two years ago.

The counts were made in the Lewis, Laughing Jacobs, Pine Lake and Ebright creeks, the last known spawning creeks for the remaining runs of the threatened species. Read more

Stream restoration becomes a showpiece

September 23, 2008

The relocated and enhanced stream channel of Many Springs Creek that empties into Laughing Jacobs Creek, and ultimately Lake Sammamish, has been moved away from Southeast 43rd Way near East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast. Photo by Jon Savell

The relocated and enhanced stream channel of Many Springs Creek that empties into Laughing Jacobs Creek, and ultimately Lake Sammamish, has been moved away from Southeast 43rd Way near East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast. By Jon Savellw

It can’t be seen from the street, but the presence of earthmoving equipment near  Southeast 43rd Way is a clear hint that something big is happening in the trees on the south side.

That something is a large wetland and stream restoration project, part of The Dwelling Co.’s Mallard Bay development that also includes a complex of townhouses going up on the other side of Southeast 43rd Way.

The Planning Department recently announced completion of some major milestones for the restoration, including the rerouting of Many Springs Creek, elimination of an access road and parking, and demolition of abandoned buildings on the site. The property occupies the southeast corner where Southeast 43rd Way connects to East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast.

Planners have two goals for the restoration. One is to provide high quality wildlife habitat on the northern edge of the city. The other is to moderate seasonal flooding along Southeast 43rd Way.

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