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The Issaquah Press
Issaquah, Washington
December 2, 2009     The Issaquah Press
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December 2, 2009

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THE ISSAQUAH PRESS WEDNESDAY~ DECEMBER 2, 2009 A3 Conservation program hopes to boost kokanee population By Warren Kagarise Issaquah Press reporter The threatened kokanee salmon could receive a lift from a regional effort to restore habitat and increase the kokanee population. Throughout fall, Issaquah Salmon Hatchery workers and vol- unteers collected almost 35,000 eggs as part of a regional effort to restore the vulnerable fish. The eggs were collected from adult fish captured by biologists. After the kokanee were spawned at the Issaquah hatchery, the eggs were sent to the Cedar River Hatchery. The offspring will spend the first few months of their lives at the hatchery, and then be released into the wild. Lake Sammamish kokanee are similar to sockeye salmon, but kokanee are smaller and live in landlocked bodies of water. Kokanee spend their entire lives in fresh water. Most adult fish migrate from the lake into streams to spawn. A smaller number of kokanee spawn along the Lake Sammamish shoreline, particularly in areas with rain-fed springs. King County Water and Land Resources Division ecologist Hans Barge said officials hoped the hatchery would be a temporary measure to help restore kokanee. "Our long-term goal is to have a viable, self-sustaining and fishable population -- one that doesn't need the support of a hatchery," he said in a county news release. Kokanee, like other salmon species, die after spawning is com- plete. The decomposing carcasses provide food for organisms throughout the watershed. Berge said a naturally spawning popula- tion would ensure that the Lake Sammamish watershed receives nutritional benefits from the spawned salmon. Friends of the Issaquah Hatchery Executive Director Gestin Suttle said the program would be "vital to keep the run going." Although she expressed opti- mism about the effort, she said it remained unclear whether the pro- gram would be successful. Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon were once plentiful enough to support a recreational fishery and form the foundation of a robust ecosystem that sustained numerous other fish and wildlife species. Moreover, Lake Sammamish kokanee were once a staple for the Snoqualmie Tribe. But the kokanee population plummeted as a result of habitat loss and other factors. Biologists found fewer than 50 adult fish in the streams feeding Lake Sammamish last year. Scientists continue to investigate the causes of the kokanee decline. Besides habitat loss, other possible culprits include changes in stream flow patterns -- due to land develop- ment and vegetation loss -- climate change, predation and water quality. Habitat improvements in major kokanee spawning streams are also a part of the restoration effort. Chad Jackson, a fishery biologist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the restoration program aims to counter the habi- tat and population loss. "Our goal is to stabilize and pos- sibly bolster the abundance of kokanee spawning in Lake Sammamish's tributaries until their habitat is restored and these fish can increase in numbers without the need for hatchery supplementa- tion," he said in the news release. In the short term, the hatchery program will be used to increase the numbers of the fish. The long- term strategy includes protection and restoration of kokanee habitat. Jackson said only a portion of the total spawning run was collect- ed for the program. "We are being very careful to make sure that sufficient numbers of kokanee are spawning natural- ly," he said. The strategy has many partners in the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group. Issaquah is part of the work group; so are the cities of Sammamish, Bellevue and Redmond. King County, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are also partners. The environmental advocacy groups Save Lake Sammamish and Trout Unlimited are in the group as well, along with residents of the water- shed. The group also supports other measures to restore the kokanee population. Those include a tagging study -- supported by the Trout Unlimited Adopt-a-Kokanee pro- gram -- to learn more about how the salmon species, their predators and their prey use the lake habitat; habitat projects; the development and distribution of educational brochures to encourage actions to conserve kokanee; and testing at the Issaquah hatchery to assess the potential of the facility to serve as the long-term home of the supple- mentation program. Conservationists seeking to pro- tect threatened Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon received a boost from the King County Council in June, when the council called on federal officials to list kokanee under the Endangered Species Act. The listing would require officials to develop a recovery plan and designate critical habitat. Penalties would also be put in place for peo- ple found harming the salmon or damaging habitat. Doug Williams, a spokesman for the county Department of Natural Resources and Parks, said the fed- eral government has yet to issue a decision about the endangered species designation. Williams said biologists and ecol- ogists used dip nets to collect fish from the Lake Sammamish water- shed. Tromping through streams near the lake, the team grabbed about three dozen kokanee pairs. Then, the adult kokanee were taken to the Issaquah hatchery for spawning. Hatchery workers and volunteers collected 34,700 eggs. After the offspring mature at the Cedar River Hatchery, the fry will be introduced to the Lake Sammamish watershed. Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com. City Council will weigh human services campus agreement , City Council members are expected to consider a bill meant to move ahead with construction of a human services campus. The council is expected to consid- er legislation Dec. 7 to hire nonprof- it Family Resource Center, of Redmond, to spearhead a study that would in turn help Issaquah officials develop a human services campus. The human services campus leg- islation has been under review since spring, when the city Human Services Commission recommend- ed hiring Family Resource Center as a consultant to determine the next step for the Issaquah campus. The nonprofit plans to partner with a University of Washington real estate professor and his grad- uate students to determine top property options. The agreement cleared the Council Services & Operations Committee late last month, and headed to the full council for a vote. Money from the Talus devel- oper would be used to pay for the study, per the agreement between the developer and the city. Councilwoman Eileen Barber, Services & Operations Committee chairwoman, said throughout the process that she supported .the human services campus concept. But she raised questions-about' the involvement of Family Resource Center and whether the organization could benefit from the Issaquah affil- iation. At the Nov. 19 Services & Operations Committee meeting, Barber said she was satisfied with the agreement that had been drai~d. A group of nonprofit, business and government leaders was formed in 2006 to research the creation of a human services cam- pus. Officials envision the campus as a central point from which to aid people in need of food, health- care and employment. Switch to CHECKING that PAYS 2.00 on baIances af $~ o0,O00* iii : !,i!iii!il !!!!~!iiiii 1.40 $2,500 - $99,999 Plus, come in on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4TH for your chance to win a $1,OOO VISA GIFT CARD or one of 22 $t00 Visa~ Gift Cards Call 800-326-8787 or visit cascadebank.com for details. BY GREG FARRAR GIVING ON THANKSGIVING Above, Bree Rusnac (left) and Rebekah Anderson, Tiger Mountain High School seniors, and Foothills Baptist Church associate pastor Craig Wilson, dish out one of the 130 Thanksgiving Feast servings Nov. 24 to fellow students, friends and school faculty. Church members provided six turkeys, fixings, and volunteer help for the annual event. At right, Cambria Gwinner (left), her brother Grant and her morn Kristin, of Issaquah, get ready with other volunteers to give away turkeys and bags of groceries to neighbors in need Nov. 21 at Eastridge Christian Assembly. Members of the congregation gave away 500 turkeys and bags of gro- ceries at their seventh annual Thanksgiving event. Affordable fees so you can say "YES" t0 your dental health I know you want the best dental care for you and your family and that quality and guarantee is something that should not have to change. 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