State grants to help restore Issaquah Creek

May 20, 2014

Issaquah will benefit from state grants given out to save Puget Sound.

The Washington departments of Ecology and Commerce, awarded nearly $4 million to Western Washington communities to help rehabilitation efforts to the sound and watersheds emptying into it, according to a May 13 press release.

Specifically in Issaquah, $172,000 will go to a Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust project aimed at Issaquah Creek restoration and controlling invasive plants.

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Issaquah starts 30-day countdown to plastic bag ban

January 31, 2013

NEW — 10 a.m. Jan. 31, 2013

The citywide ban on most retail plastic bags starts March 1, and Issaquah leaders reminded residents to prepare in the 30 days before the legislation goes into effect.

The measure also sets a 5-cent fee for most paper carryout bags. Under the ordinance, retailers keep the fee to offset the cost to phase out plastic bags and shoppers can see the expense itemized on receipts.

Though the ordinance requires most plastic bags to disappear from retailers in March, consumers should not expect to see the bags vanish altogether.

The legislation contains exemptions for plastic bags for bakery items, bulk foods, meat, produce, dry cleaning, newspapers, small hardware items and takeout foods.

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Issaquah Salmon Hatchery spawns chinook, coho

November 6, 2012

FISH docent Grace Reamer holds a handful of chinook salmon eggs for students at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery on Oct. 30. By Greg Farrar

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery workers and volunteers sloshed around in 40-degree water Oct. 30, as the annual effort to spawn coho salmon started again.

Teams from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery plan to collect 1.2 million coho eggs. The process to spawn coho started about a month after hatchery workers and volunteers started spawning chinook. In the resulting effort, teams collected 2.2 million eggs.

FISH Executive Director Jane Kuechle and John Kugen, hatchery foreman, said the partnership between the nonprofit organization and the state agency is essential for the survival of Issaquah Creek salmon — and the hatchery.

The hatchery, a fixture in downtown Issaquah for 75 years, spawns and raises coho and chinook.

State fisheries experts expected a more robust chinook salmon return but a smaller coho salmon return to Puget Sound streams in 2012.

“It comes and goes,” Kugen said. “The best one that we had that I can remember was 2001, when we had 18,000 coho and then a couple years ago we had 13,000. Coho come back in bigger numbers because they’re released as bigger smolts. They’re about 7 or 8 inches long, so there’s less predation on them than chinook.”

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Tribal tales from a kokanee salmon, as told to Dallas Cross

October 2, 2012

Dallas Cross

Before the Ice Age my ancestral sockeye salmon bearing our tribal name, oncorhynchus nerka, regularly came from the ocean to Lake Sammamish to find mates and reproduce in its streams. As it got colder, a huge glacier cut off the escape of the tribe to Puget Sound. Being trapped, we had to adapt to living our entire lives in fresh water.

It was difficult at first, but soon we were feeding on the small daphnia or water fleas living in the lake. Because daphnia are not as big as krill in the ocean, our size got smaller. Our tribe enjoyed less swimming distance for a lifecycle and we were glad not to be eaten by big salt-water fish and seals. We became land-locked in the lake and its streams. We adapted and survived.

We did retain some traditions of our sea-run ancestors, such as only living three to five years, turning red to spawn, running up streams to lay and fertilize our eggs, and dying afterward. Our short life spans allowed us to make rapid genetic changes in response to climate changes and food availability.

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Press Editorial

September 4, 2012

Healthy ecosystem supports salmon

Last week, the first returning salmon of 2012 were seen at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery where they have come home to spawn. More will follow in the fall months ahead, crowding the many tributaries that feed into Lake Sammamish.

A healthy return of the Northwest’s favorite fish is an important symbol of the health of our streams, lakes and Puget Sound ecosystems.

While some residents are crying about the imposition of tough city laws meant to strengthen the salmon’s habitat — and our own — the fact remains that Issaquah has embraced its role as watershed steward. Our waterways are healthier today than 10, 20 or 30 years ago.

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Spawn is on as first salmon reach Issaquah hatchery

August 28, 2012

Salmon spawning season at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery started early Aug. 25 as a hatchery docent-in-training spotted the first fish, a small chinook in Issaquah Creek.

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Spawning salmon reaches Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

August 27, 2012

NEW — 2 p.m. Aug. 27, 2012

Salmon spawning season at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery started early Aug. 25 as a hatchery docent-in-training spotted the first fish, a small chinook in Issaquah Creek.

The recent drop in temperature aided the salmon on a long journey from the Pacific Ocean to Issaquah Creek. Cool conditions often prompt the fish to depart Lake Sammamish and head upstream.

The initial fish, a female, or hen, appeared just below the weir across the creek at the hatchery. The arrival occurred as Friends of the Issaquah Salmon conducted training for docents and other volunteers.

Late August is a typical arrival time for spawning salmon. The hatchery recorded the initial fish last year, a pair of chinook, early Aug. 23.

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Washington Conservation Corps seeks members

August 21, 2012

The teams maintaining the trails on state and King County lands near Issaquah often include members of the Washington Conservation Corps — a fresh-out-of-college bunch eager to earn experience in the environmental field.

Like the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, the 21st-century equivalent enlists young adults to tackle habitat and infrastructure projects.

The state Department of Ecology needs applicants to fill 300 service positions in 16 counties throughout the state.

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Issaquah Salmon Hatchery history is focus of 75th anniversary program

July 17, 2012

Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery
The historic Issaquah Salmon Hatchery started raising salmon along Issaquah Creek in 1937.

The iconic Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is celebrating 75 years, and to mark the occasion, the Issaquah History Museums is educating residents about the downtown facility — a lifesaver for countless salmon since the 1930s.

Conservationists and longtime Issaquah residents credit the hatchery for restoring the historic Issaquah Creek salmon runs after decades of logging and mining damaged the creek and surrounding watershed.

The program is among a series of events to commemorate the 1937 hatchery opening.

Jane Kuechle, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery executive director, plans to offer attendees a glimpse at the hatchery from throughout the decades.

“It’ll be a past, present, future kind of presentation,” said Laile Di Silvestro, Issaquah History Museums program coordinator.

In 1936, Works Progress Administration crews started to build the hatchery complex on a former city park and bandstand.

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From Issaquah Creek to Puget Sound

June 28, 2012

A Puget Sound Starts Here badge on a storm drain in downtown Issaquah. By Greg Farrar

Puget Sound starts in Issaquah — among other places — and problems in local streams can impact the sound’s overall health.

Glance at any storm drain in downtown Issaquah, and the connection between runoff from city streets and Puget Sound comes into focus.

“Puget Sound Starts Here” read placards about the same size as a deck of cards.

The shortest distance between Issaquah and Puget Sound is about 15 miles, separated by open spaces set aside for conservation and acres sealed beneath concrete. The actual division between suburb and sound is shorter.

Curbside storm drains throughout Issaquah drain to Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks, and then into Lake Sammamish. The lake is connected through a broad, interconnected watershed to Puget Sound.

“It’s all of us that live in the watershed,” said Michael Grayum, director of public affairs for the Puget Sound Partnership, a state agency formed to spearhead cleanup. “The work of the Puget Sound Partnership goes from the snowcaps to the whitecaps, and everything is connected to Puget Sound in between.”

Many sources of pollutants in Puget Sound exist far from the shoreline.

The most common way toxic chemicals reach Puget Sound is through polluted surface runoff from residential, commercial and industrial lands. Untreated runoff sluices into freshwater lakes, streams and then drains into Puget Sound.

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