Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon proposal stays afloat

August 2, 2011

Dave Reichert

In a rare bipartisan effort, the U.S. House of Representatives backed a proposal July 27 to allow officials to add animals and plants to the Endangered Species Act — a measure important to a coming protection decision for Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon.

In a spending bill, House Republicans called for only allowing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to remove species from the endangered list, rather than add others. U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, a powerful Washington Democrat, led the effort to strip the so-called “extinction rider” from the spending bill.

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, Issaquah’s representative in Congress and a Republican, joined 36 other GOP representatives and 187 Democrats to support Dicks’ amendment.

Under a recent legal agreement between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Center for Biological Diversity, the agency is required to decide by the end of the year whether the Lake Sammamish kokanee proposal should proceed.

Local environmental groups, governments and the Snoqualmie Tribe petitioned in 2007 to list the landlocked salmon species as endangered.

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Lawmakers back measure to restore endangered listings, keep kokanee proposal afloat

July 27, 2011

NEW — 8 p.m. July 27, 2011

In a rare bipartisan effort, the U.S. House of Representatives backed a proposal Wednesday to allow officials to add animals and plants to the Endangered Species Act — a measure important to a coming protection decision for Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon.

In a spending bill, House Republicans called for only allowing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to remove species from the endangered list, rather than add others. U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, a powerful Belfair Democrat, led the effort to strip the so-called “extinction rider” from the spending bill.

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, Issaquah’s representative in Congress and a Republican, joined 36 other GOP representatives and 187 Democrats to support Dicks’ amendment.

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Protection decision is due soon for Lake Sammamish kokanee

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.

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Decision is closer on endangered status for Lake Sammamish kokanee

July 12, 2011

NEW — 11:55 a.m. July 12, 2011

The long process to add the dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon to the endangered species list inched ahead Tuesday, 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 if the Lake Sammamish kokanee proposal should proceed.

Local environmental groups, governments and the Snoqualmie Tribe petitioned in 2007 to list the landlocked salmon species as endangered.

Kokanee used to thrive in Lake Sammamish. The freshwater salmon species formed the foundation of a robust ecosystem and a recreational fishery. Snoqualmies fished for the plentiful salmon as a staple.

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Press Editorial

May 10, 2011

Local History Month should mean something

May is Local History Month in Issaquah, as proclaimed by the mayor.

The month will come and go without many residents taking note, but the mayor is right in helping publicize the importance of Issaquah’s history.

We are often amazed at how many people know little of the early days here in Issaquah. Snoqualmie Tribe members were among the early settlers. Farming came to town and brought us the dairy cooperative now known as Darigold. The coal mines brought prosperity and the railroad to Issaquah, and our historic depot reminds of that. Logging was also king as hikers on our mountain trails are aware.

The town began in the Front Street and Sunset Way area, still the heart of the historic downtown. The Issaquah History Museums keeps an office in the original Gilman Town Hall. Out back is an early cement block jail. Pictures and mementos inside tell the story of a town with its mud streets and wooden sidewalks becoming the prosperous center of commerce along the interstate that it is today.

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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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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

A new vessel connects tribe to the past

May 4, 2010

Master carver John Mullen, of Beaver Lake, got choked up as he tried to express his gratitude to those who crafted the Snoqualmie Tribe’s newest canoe.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” he said as he and about 20 others stood in a circle on the beach at Lake Sammamish State Park. He said he was proud of the younger carvers, Jacob Mullen and Wayne Graika, who did the brunt of the work. “The spirit was with them.”

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Snoqualmie Tribe canoe blessing / May 4, 2010

May 4, 2010

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

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