More kokanee return as community works to restore species

December 4, 2012

Homeowner funds $175,000 culvert project

Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon swim Nov. 27 in the restored stretch of Ebright Creek at Wally Pereyra’s property in the 100 block of East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast. By Greg Farrar

Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon — a landlocked cousin of sockeye and a species noted for distinctive red coloration — dwindled in recent decades, since before Wally Pereyra moved into a house along Ebright Creek in 1973.

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State offers grants to restore fish, wildlife habitat

November 28, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Nov. 28, 2012

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is offering grants for residents and organizations interested in fish and wildlife conservation.

The agency expects to have about $1 million from the Aquatic Land Enhancement Account available for the grants.

The program is open to residents and organizations — including nonprofit organizations, schools and universities, American Indian tribes and local conservation districts — for volunteer projects related to conservation or to help the public enjoy and understand animal species.

Through the grants, officials fund projects related to habitat, research, education and outreach, facility development and artificial production — although the agency intends to consider other projects. Grants cannot go toward salaries, wages or stipends.

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State adds flexible start date to Discover Pass

November 23, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 23, 2012

State agencies encourage holiday shoppers to consider a Discover Pass as a gift for family and friends interested in the outdoors.

Officials added a feature recently to allow purchasers to choose the pass’ start date. The option is available to customers who purchasing the pass at www.discoverpass.wa.gov, or in person from authorized retailers through the Washington Interactive Licensing Database, or WILD, system.

The pass is available in Issaquah at Big 5 Sporting Goods, Fred Meyer and Sports Authority.

The buyer can activate the pass immediately or on any day within one year of purchase.

State legislators passed the option into law in 2012 to allow greater flexibility to outdoor recreation enthusiasts, including people interested in giving the pass as a gift.

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Under new state laws, residents face fines for feeding bears

November 13, 2012

Under new state laws, residents face fines for feeding bears intentionally or otherwise, such as by leaving food waste in bear-prone locations.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife reminded residents about the changes last month, as black bears start to appear more frequently in areas populated by humans.

“This is the time of year when bears are looking to build up as much fat as possible to get through winter,” Mike Cenci, deputy Department of Fish and Wildlife police chief, said in a statement. “Putting food scraps out for them or leaving garbage cans or pet food exposed is an open invitation for them to pay you and your neighbors a visit.”

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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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Darigold donates water for Lake Sammamish kokanee

November 6, 2012

Darigold joined the effort in recent weeks to preserve dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery announced Oct. 26.

The downtown Issaquah dairy is donating water from a well to the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer for the hatchery to use in the ongoing effort to restore kokanee. The contribution from Darigold should save the hatchery about $50,000 over the program’s anticipated lifespan through 2021.

Experts said the Darigold water is ideal for kokanee due to consistent quality and temperature. Using the water allows hatchery teams to prevent the fish from imprinting on Issaquah Creek water, and instead allows fry to imprint on Ebright, Laughing Jacobs and Lewis creeks.

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Parks waive fees for all on Veterans Day weekend

November 6, 2012

Residents can explore the outdoors for free as state and national parks waive entrance fees for Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 10-12.

Lake Sammamish, Squak Mountain and other state parks do not require a Discover Pass during the holiday weekend. The waiver also applies to lands run by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Natural Resources, including Tiger Mountain State Forest.

The fee waiver encompasses all 398 national parks — including Washington’s Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic national parks.

Head to Beaver Lake for hatchery rainbow trout

November 6, 2012

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is planning to release some of those big rainbow trout you may have seen in a rearing pond at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. In fact, you may have fed them through the fence with fish food provided by the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery during Salmon Days.

Dallas Cross

Beaver Lake in Sammamish will be the fortunate recipient site. The department announced it will release about 2,000 rainbow trout weighing from 2-3 pounds, and open the lake for fishing at sunrise Nov. 8. The lake was to be closed for fishing Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the reopening.

The daily limit for Beaver Lake is five fish of which only two may exceed 15 inches in length. Two of those big trout should be more than enough to feed most families.

Now, here is an easy-to-access, urban lake that is close by and only 15 minutes from downtown Issaquah. To cast and wade from shore, do so from Beaver Lake Park, maintained by the city of Sammamish. It has a lot of parking and is accessible from Southeast 24th Street that intersects 228th Avenue Southeast at Discovery Elementary School.

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FISH lures public to annual meeting

October 30, 2012

Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery volunteers and hatchery crews spawned 996 chinook in the past month, as the autumn salmon run transformed the hatchery into a hub of activity.

Now, residents can learn more about the salmon conservation efforts spearheaded by FISH at the nonprofit organization’s annual meeting next month.

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Beaver Lake to receive 2,000 hatchery trout

October 30, 2012

Anglers can soon catch large trout in Beaver Lake, due to the release of about 2,000 hatchery rainbow trout averaging about 2 to 3 pounds each.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is scheduled to release the fish Nov. 7. Beaver Lake access closes at sunset Nov. 6 and reopens at sunrise Nov. 8. Beaver Lake remains open to fishing while the access site is closed.

The trout were part of an educational display at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

Beaver Lake is best fished by small boat, although anglers also can be successful fishing from shore, said Justin Spinelli, fishery biologist for the department.

The lake’s access site is most easily reached by way of East Beaver Lake Drive Southeast, off Southeast 24th Street in Sammamish.

Parking for vehicles and boat trailers is limited, and a valid Department of Fish and Wildlife Vehicle Access Pass or Discover Pass must be visible in vehicles parked at the access site.

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