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.
October 7, 2012
NEW — 6 a.m. Oct. 7, 2012
In addition to the Roving Fish Fan hunt at the Salmon Days Festival, the downtown Issaquah Salmon Hatchery features “Gill”-iver’s Travels — a chance for children and adults to assume the role of a migrating salmon.
(Trust us, nobody dies at the end of the journey.)
The experience starts at the entrance of the hatchery, 125 W. Sunset Way. Then, participants head to booths to answer questions about salmon, the environment and water quality. Show the passport to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife at the end of the journey to receive a fishy treat.
The program comes together through the efforts of the state fish and wildlife agency, the state Department of Natural Resources, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and King County.
October 2, 2012
On Oct. 20, the Bellevue-Issaquah Chapter of Trout Unlimited is presenting the inaugural Run with the Kokanee at Lake Sammamish State Park.
Parking for this event is available near the main gate, at 2000 N.W. Sammamish Road, and will require a $10 fee or a Washington State Parks Discover Pass.
Those registering for either the 5k or 10k walk/run can save $10 on the entry fee when registering for the race on or before Oct. 7. Those entering the day of the race will be charged $40 and $45, respectively. Those wishing to enter early online may do so at www.tu-bi.org.
October 2, 2012
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.
September 25, 2012
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.
August 28, 2012
The Kokanee Work Group needs volunteers to report spawning kokanee salmon this fall in creeks feeding Lake Sammamish.
Volunteers will be asked to survey creek sections once a week during the 2012-13 spawning season from October through January. Trout Unlimited of Bellevue-Issaquah is registering volunteers wishing to participate.
Fish biologist Hans Berge will make a presentation at a public meeting of Trout Unlimited at the Issaquah Brewhouse at 7 p.m. Sept. 12. He will discuss plans and actions to restore the threatened kokanee population in Lake Sammamish.
He will also be available to answer questions about counting spawners and the training to be offered in late September.
July 17, 2012
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.
April 10, 2012
Conservationists plodded along rain-soaked creek banks last autumn to collect mature Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon in a soggy slog and pluck fish from a handful of streams to preserve the fading species.
The groups responsible for the salmon run restoration effort plan to return to Laughing Jacobs Creek on April 19 to release minuscule fry — a sign of success for the local, county, state and federal agencies entwined in the preservation program.
The annual kokanee fry release celebrates the ongoing push to restore the declining kokanee population in Lake Sammamish and launches Earth Day observances in the area. The community is invited to participate and learn about the salmon species — a landlocked cousin of sockeye — and the preservation program.
April 3, 2012
Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon supporters raised almost $10,000 last month to protect the disappearing fish species.
Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and Coho Café organized a March 16 fundraiser to net dollars for a kokanee restoration program.
The sold-out event raised funds from ticket sales for a reception at the Watershed Science Center on the hatchery grounds and a silent wine auction benefit.
Matt Baerwalde, a Snoqualmie Nation representative, presented a $5,000 check to FISH Executive Director Jane Kuechle for the kokanee spawning program.
October 4, 2011
Population is in decline, but local stock is not ‘distinct’ from other kokanee
Federal officials decided dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon do not qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act, prompting a chorus of disapproval from local officials.
The species’ decline concerned U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officials, but did not merit the fish being listed under the act. The agency announced the decision Oct. 3.
The once-abundant kokanee declined in recent decades, perhaps due to construction near creeks, increased predators, disease or changes in water quality.
In recent years, the number of salmon in the late-fall and early-winter run has dwindled to fewer than 1,000 in some seasons. Kokanee return to only a handful of creeks — Ebright, Laughing Jacobs and Lewis — to spawn. Scientists estimated the total 2010 run at 58 fish, including the 40 kokanee spawned at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery in a last-ditch effort to save the species.
The decision came after the agency spent four years to review the Lake Sammamish stock’s health.