Lake Sammamish kokanee need long-term fix

September 25, 2012

Dallas Cross

Oncorhynchus nerka, our kokanee salmon in Lake Sammamish, is a threatened native species with greatly reduced numbers spawning in streams feeding the lake.

Most of their historical spawning areas are now denied by barriers or degraded as a result of land development.

Until recently, Lake Sammamish kokanee have not been included with other salmon species in conservation measures and have been low in profile for public concern.

For the past several years, an effort of the environmentally concerned and governmental communities adjacent to Lake Sammamish have participated in defining the problem, setting goals and taking action to address the threatened loss of the kokanee.

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State receives $22 million for salmon recovery projects

September 11, 2012

State salmon recovery managers received $22 million to support restoration projects statewide, officials announced Sept. 6.

The total includes $15 million for the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board to award as competitive grants for projects statewide. In addition, $3.3 million from the federal grant goes to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission for hatchery and harvest reform projects.

“A healthy Washington state economy is reliant on healthy salmon populations,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement. “Salmon support jobs and small businesses — especially our mom-and-pop tackle shops, restaurants, fishing guides and hotels.”

Recreational salmon fishing creates almost $130 million in economic activity annually, according to a 2006 Department of Fish and Wildlife study.

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery celebrates 75 years

September 4, 2012

See salmon, Snoqualmie carver at open house

Members of Girl Scout Troop 200 and some Canadian Girl Scout guests sit at the edge of one of the fish ponds Oct. 3, 1970, during a tour of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery given by Mayor Keith Hansen (far left) during the first Salmon Festival. File

Salmon reached the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery late last month, but the arrival is not the only celebration at the downtown landmark.

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Leaders mark 75th anniversary of wildlife restoration law

September 4, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 4, 2012

State leaders recently celebrated a federal law passed 75 years ago to help Washington and other states manage wildlife, purchase habitat and educate hunters.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and state Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson said the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, provided Washington with millions of dollars to support wildlife conservation and hunter education initiatives.

Sept. 2 marked 75 years since Roosevelt signed the legislation into law.

The law is better known as the Pittman-Robertson Act after the prime sponsors, U.S. Sen. Key Pittman, D-Nev., and U.S. Rep. A. Willis Robertson, D-Va.

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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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FISH hosts hatchery anniversary photo contest

August 21, 2012

Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is hosting a photo contest to celebrate the hatchery’s 75th anniversary.

Organizers encourage amateur and professional photographers to document the hatchery, salmon in the stream, and the flora and fauna that inhabit the grounds.

Photos must be taken on hatchery property in places open to the public, between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31. Winners will be announced Nov. 10 at the hatchery.

Learn more about the contest and submit entries at www.issaquahfish.org. Click on the “FISH Celebrates 75th Anniversary” link at the top of the home page.

The hatchery, a Works Progress Administration project, opened in 1937. The property is owned by the city and operated by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

State creates salmon recovery scorecard

July 24, 2012

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has made finding up-to-date information about salmon runs and salmon recovery efforts easier, by unveiling a salmon scorecard.

The online tool —Salmon Conservation Reporting Engine, or SCoRE — consolidates information about Washington salmon populations, hatchery production, conservation guidelines and other aspects of salmon management into a single website, http://wdfw.wa.gov/score.

SCoRE outlines major recovery initiatives under way around the state to restore salmon habitat, restructure hatchery operations and redesign fisheries to conserve wild salmon runs.

“Our goal was to make this information as easy to access as possible,” Sara LaBorde, a special assistant to the agency director, said in a statement. “With SCoRE, people can switch from an overview of statewide habitat-restoration efforts to spawning data for a specific salmon run with a few mouse clicks.”

The website breaks down increases and decreases in salmon and steelhead populations, activities at specific hatcheries, information about wild salmon and steelhead runs, and opportunities for the public to participate in salmon recovery efforts.

“Our state made a major commitment to salmon recovery, and people have a right to know how that’s going,” LaBorde said.

Where have all the kokanee salmon gone?

July 17, 2012

Dallas Cross

For 5 million years, an ancient class of salmon has been swimming in lakes and streams once connected to the Pacific Ocean. They are kokanee, a small species of freshwater salmon.

Kokanee live in Lake Sammamish and spawn in its creeks. Their scientific name is Oncorhynchus nerka. It is a combination of hooked-nose in Latin together with a complex, Latin-Polish name for red salmon. They share the nerka name with their ancestral, but genetically distinct, sockeye salmon. The name, kokanee, comes from the Okanagan-Salish language and means red fish.

Lake Sammamish kokanee embrace their red fish name when they return in November through January to their birth creeks to spawn. In the lake, they are mostly silver with small scales, not spotted like trout, and have a distinctively forked tail. At spawning time, the bodies of males turn a bright red with green heads and a hooked nose. The females’ bodies turn red with a faint green stripe.

Spawning pairs seek gravel beds in the same streams where they were hatched. In these streams, they move gravel around making redds in which the female lays eggs to be fertilized by the ever-attendant male. The eggs incubate in the gravel redds for three to four months during which an alevin with an egg sac forms. Alevin then absorb the sac and mature into kokanee fry. The fry wait for a stream temperature of about 52 degrees and a dark night to leave their gravel beds and make a run downstream to the lake.

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City Council decision advances dam project

July 10, 2012

Plans to replace a problem-plagued dam upstream from the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery surged ahead July 2, as City Council members steered dollars to complete designs for a proposed replacement.

Crews intend to add boulder weirs to Issaquah Creek and demolish the dam, perhaps as early as next spring.

The legislation approved by the council increased city dollars for the project by $268,700 from the $155,000 municipal leaders initially set aside in the 2012 municipal budget for the replacement. Now, after the council decision, the total amount in the budget is $423,700.

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