Rare Kokanee spawn bigger numbers this spring | Photos
By CELESTE GRACEY
Issaquah Reporter Staff Writer
April 23, 2012 · 11:40 AM
Although the Lake Sammamish Kokanee were close to being wiped out three years ago, it proved this season that it's one tough little fish.
The Issaquah Salmon hatchery managed to return 62,000 fry to the creeks and rivers that feed into the lake. That's up from only 16,000 last year.
As pleased as biologists were, the great anticipation is for the return in the fall, when the first hatchery-born fish will spawn.
The community gathered April 19 to celebrate the Kokanee project by releasing a few dozen into Laughing Jacobs Creek, which runs through Lake Sammamish State Park.
With other breeds of salmon, such as Coho, people are figuring out that the health of the runs has a lot to do with ocean conditions.
The Kokanee, however, never leave the lake.There is no excuse, said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "This is happening in our county, in our community. We need to shoulder it."
A major problem for the fish is narrow culverts, which cut access to lakes and streams on the Plateau.
Constantine announced that it was awarding a $10,000 grant to remove an Ebright Creek culvert and to replace it with one that's larger and more fish friendly.
That money comes on top of $9,500 the Coho Cafe and Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery raised this winter for Kokanee habitat restoration.
"They're really worth all the effort," said Bellevue City Councilmember Don Davidson, who helped form the Kokanee work group. "They're beautiful little fish."
The now three year program is a great example of how the federal, state, county and city governments can work together for one common goal, he said.
About 50 representatives from various government groups attended the celebration. Members of the Snoqualmie Tribe gave a spiritual blessing.
One of the reasons why locals have taken such an interest in the project is because of Lake Sammamish's setting. It inspires people to want to improve the habitat, said Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger as she looked out into the budding trees near the creek.
While a few parents from the county brought their children to the release, a couple families came from the community.
Diane Meboe brought all three of her kids. They each took turns dipping little paper cups into the creek, and watching the fry swim under nearby rocks.
"I'm pretty excited to think the fish they're sending out today are someday coming back up the creek," she said.
Angela Wymer plays a drum as she gives a blessing on behalf of the Snoqualmie Tribe for the Kokanee salmon. BY CELESTE GRACEY / ISSAQUAH & SAMMAMISH REPORTER
Two Kokanee salmon fry, just before being released into Laughing Jacobs Creek. BY CELESTE GRACEY / ISSAQUAH & SAMMAMISH REPORTER
Isabelle Meboe, 10, releases a Kokanee salmon into Laughing Jacobs Creek with help from Hans Berge. The community celebrated the third fry release since the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery began its supplementation program. BY CELESTE GRACEY / ISSAQUAH & SAMMAMISH REPORTER
King County Executive Dow Constantine spoke at the third annual Kokanee release at Laughing Jacobs Creek in Issaquah. BY CELESTE GRACEY / ISSAQUAH & SAMMAMISH REPORTER
Kokanee fry swim above a bubbler in a cooler, before they're released into Laughing Jacobs Creek April 19. BY CELESTE GRACEY / ISSAQUAH & SAMMAMISH REPORTERContact Issaquah Reporter Staff Writer Celeste Gracey at email@example.com or 425-391-0363.