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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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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Salmon in the Classroom reaches crossroads

March 29, 2011

Clark Elementary School students (from left) Callie Mejia, 10, Hannah Halstead, 10, Jackson Rubin, 10, and Caelan Varner, 11, take turns feeding the coho salmon fry growing in the science room aquarium. By Greg Farrar

Questions remain about start-up costs, permits

For a Clark Elementary School class, raising coho salmon from eggs no larger than a BB pellet to miniscule fish is part lesson, part ritual.

Students traipse down the hallway from class to the aquarium in a science room in the morning, again at lunchtime and before the last bell rings in the afternoon. Using a small spatula, students scoop salmon food — a coarse substance similar to dirt in color and texture — into the aquarium.

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Effort to preserve dwindling species is a team effort

January 18, 2011

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

Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon used to turn the creeks branching from the lake to the color of rust as thousands of fish headed upstream to spawn.

The once-plentiful fish has declined in recent decades, perhaps due to construction near the tributary creeks, increased predators, disease or changes in water quality.

But the imperiled fish has received a boost from local, state and federal officials in recent seasons.

Scientists started to comb the tributary creeks for spawning salmon late last year and, during the ongoing spawning season, King County and local, state and federal agencies coordinated efforts to restore the species. Read more

Issaquah schools face end of Salmon in the Classroom

January 4, 2011

State program is a casualty of deep budget cuts

The salmon — or, more specifically, delicate salmon eggs no larger than a pencil eraser — return to a Clark Elementary School classroom each year.

But fourth- and fifth-grade teacher Liza Rickey could face a change in the curriculum soon as the state Salmon in the Classroom program ends.

In the program, students raise salmon, learn about water quality and salmon habitat, and discover the relationship between Issaquah Creek and Puget Sound.

State legislators eliminated dollars for the program in a round of budget cuts during a Dec. 11 special session. The program is a casualty of cuts as state leaders face a $4 billion budget hole. Read more

Issaquah schools face end of Salmon in the Classroom program

December 25, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 25, 2010

The salmon — or, more specifically, salmon eggs — return to a Clark Elementary School classroom each year.

But fourth- and fifth-grade teacher Liza Rickey could face a change in the curriculum next month: the end of the Salmon in the Classroom program.

In the program, students raise salmon, learn about water quality and salmon habitat, and discover the relationship between Issaquah Creek and Puget Sound.

State legislators eliminated dollars for the program in a round of budget cuts during the Dec. 11 special session. The program is a casualty of cuts as state leaders face a gaping budget hole.

“It’s such a worthy project for the kids to see,” Rickey said. “It’s hands on, it’s real world. It’s a very important resource in our area, and now it’s not even available for them to experience in that way.”

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Concerns about coho salmon persist as hatchery spawns other species

November 30, 2010

Jed Varney (left) and John Kugen spawn a Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon last month at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. Contributed

Lake Sammamish kokanee conservation program continues

The small coho salmon run has left the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery about 750,000 eggs short.

The inexplicable shortfall means the hatchery must truck in coho eggs from the Wallace Creek Hatchery in Sultan in order to meet the 1.2 million-egg goal for the year.

Biologists remain puzzled about the decline in coho, but poor ocean conditions could be a factor in the drop-off.

Teams at the Issaquah hatchery had trapped 475 coho — and did not allow any fish to pass upstream to spawn — by late November. The number represents a fraction of the fish the hatchery spawns during a normal coho run. Read more

Spot spawning salmon along Lake Sammamish tributaries

October 21, 2010

NEW — 2 p.m. Oct. 21, 2010

The streams branching from Lake Sammamish offer Issaquah residents a chance to see salmon battling the current in order to spawn upstream.

The freshwater kokanee salmon should start emerging from the lake and into tributary creeks to spawn later in the fall.

Starting early next month, look for kokanee from the East Lake Sammamish Trail crossing of Ebright Creek in Sammamish, across from 148 E. Lake Sammamish Parkway S.E.

Or spot kokanee from the 185th Place Southeast crossing of Lewis Creek in Issaquah.

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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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