June 19, 2012
Issaquah salmon-restoration projects could garner grant dollars after all, even though a lawsuit threatened to cut off funds for conservation projects countywide.
King County Flood Control District leaders decided to fund salmon-recovery projects after the King Conservation District stopped doling out grants amid a legal challenge.
Flood Control District officials approved $3 million May 14 for projects to improve water quality, protect and restore habitat, and support salmon recovery efforts. King County Council members sit as the executive board for the Flood Control District.
The decision is meant to plug a gap left after the King Conservation District halted a separate process to issue salmon-recovery grants. Read more
April 10, 2012
Conservationists plodded along rain-soaked creek banks last autumn to collect mature Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon in a soggy slog and pluck fish from a handful of streams to preserve the fading species.
The groups responsible for the salmon run restoration effort plan to return to Laughing Jacobs Creek on April 19 to release minuscule fry — a sign of success for the local, county, state and federal agencies entwined in the preservation program.
The annual kokanee fry release celebrates the ongoing push to restore the declining kokanee population in Lake Sammamish and launches Earth Day observances in the area. The community is invited to participate and learn about the salmon species — a landlocked cousin of sockeye — and the preservation program.
April 3, 2012
Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon supporters raised almost $10,000 last month to protect the disappearing fish species.
Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and Coho Café organized a March 16 fundraiser to net dollars for a kokanee restoration program.
The sold-out event raised funds from ticket sales for a reception at the Watershed Science Center on the hatchery grounds and a silent wine auction benefit.
Matt Baerwalde, a Snoqualmie Nation representative, presented a $5,000 check to FISH Executive Director Jane Kuechle for the kokanee spawning program.
March 13, 2012
The message from groups toiling to save a fish species from extinction is simple and stark: SOS, for Save Our Salmon.
Kokanee S.O.S. is a planned fundraiser organized by Coho Café and Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery to aid the diminishing Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon population. The restaurant and the nonprofit organization are planning a March 23 fundraiser to benefit kokanee restoration efforts.
“This possible extinction is literally happening right in our own backyard and if a community as educated and affluent as King County cannot turn this critical situation around, then I’m not sure there is hope for any people to protect a dwindling and important resource,” said Heather VanDorn, Coho Café Catering manager.
March 6, 2012
The long-running Salmon in the Classroom program at Clark Elementary School remained afloat due to a donation from a former student.
Issaquah native Jerry Pearson, a Snoqualmie attorney and former Clark Elementary student, said childhood memories of salmon in Lewis Creek and concerns about budget cuts to public schools inspired the donation.
“It’s important for kids to know that the salmon are an important part of the culture in the Northwest,” he said. “They need to know that salmon are so much more than just the logo on posters for Salmon Days.”
Pearson recalled fishing for trout and perch in Lewis Creek as a boy growing up near the south end of Lake Sammamish.
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.
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.”
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.
August 23, 2011
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.
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.