June 2017 Newsletter
Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed
Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 8

Celebrating the past—and planning for the future—of the Chittenden (Ballard) Locks

Hiram Chittenden Locks (Ballard Locks)
On July 4, 1917, fifty thousand people celebrated the opening of Seattle’s Lake Washington Ship Canal and the Locks with fireworks, a carnival, and a boat parade. One hundred years later, it is time to celebrate their Centennial.

To start with, June 17 was Fisheries Day at the Locks; WRIA 8 was one of 20 groups at the event who shared information with families and others about how to be good stewards of fish in our watershed (see photos and report by KNKX).

On July 3, Pearl Django and other favorite Northwest bands will play jazz FREE from 1-5, and KNKX will broadcast All Things Considered live from 3-6:30, including special stories about the Locks and salmon. There will also be a family-friendly dance from 5-9, with period dress encouraged and a chance to contribute to improvements for the fish ladder viewing area. The official Locks Centennial celebration will follow on July 4. Visit Making the Cut and the U.S. Army Corps's Centennial page for information about other exhibits, events, projects, and online resources commemorating the centennial.

New smolt slide will help salmon navigate the aging Locks

Smolt slide at the Ballard Locks, for salmon passageThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) recently installed a new “smolt slide” to help juvenile salmon pass through the Locks as they migrate out to the ocean. Compared to older versions, the new slides are safer for the salmon and safer for staff to install and provide data critical to understanding how salmon migrate in and out of our watershed and what may help their recovery. The work is part of an agreement between King County (via WRIA 8) and USACE that shares costs related to monitoring Chinook migration in the watershed. The new smolt slides are one step toward an easier passage through the 100-year old Locks for these threatened fish.

More work is needed! On May 17, Representative Pramila Jayapal of the 7th Congressional District released a report on projects to strengthen infrastructure and transportation systems in the Seattle region. She included critical infrastructure improvements to the Ballard Locks (p. 7, pdf) needed for safe future operations and safe, effective fish passage. This is a long-standing priority for WRIA 8 and we will continue to watch for opportunities to support improvements to the Locks.

Washington’s Senators advocate for salmon recovery funding

The Capitol Building in Washington D.C.On May 24th, Washington Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, with other West Coast Senators, sent a letter to President Trump urging him to reinstate funding for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) cut in the Administration’s FY 2018 budget. The Senators cite the progress made in salmon recovery with PCSRF funds and the critical role of salmon in the economic, cultural and ecosystem health of the region.

In early June, the WRIA 8 Salmon Recovery Council sent a letter to the Washington State Congressional delegation to thank them for their support for federal salmon recovery funding, and a letter to the leadership of key Congressional budget committees to urge them to reinstate and appropriately fund PCSRF to continue important progress in salmon recovery.

Thank you letter for Puget Sound Day on the HillLobbying effort brings 60 Puget Sound recovery partners to DC

In this summary, Puget Sound Partnership Director Sheida Sahandy recaps the “Puget Sound Day on the Hill” effort in early May that brought dozens of recovery partners to Washington, D.C. to convey to members of Congress the value and importance of protecting Puget Sound. The summary recaps highlights of the event and provides a good update on the status of federal priorities for the Sound.  Thanks to The Nature Conservancy, a website was created to share the many inspiring recovery projects taking place around the Sound; WRIA 8’s Rainbow Bend and Cedar River Stewardship in Action are featured.

Kirkland helps grow green shorelines program

Green shorelines along Lake Washington in KirklandOn a beautiful morning in early May, at the Green Shorelines for Homes (GSH)-certified Bendich residence on the shores of Lake Washington, the city of Kirkland announced it would be the first Washington community to sign up as a GSH city. Managed by Washington Sea Grant, GSH is a voluntary, incentive-based program to encourage waterfront homeowners, contractors and governments to create salmon-friendly shorelines for lake and marine shore properties.

Read more about the event here:

Confluence Park Bridge in Issaquah, WashingtonIssaquah’s Confluence Park complete and open to public

On May 25th, Issaquah’s Mayor Fred Butler “cut the ribbon” to officially open to the public the beautiful pedestrian bridge, playground upgrade and walking trails at Confluence Park. (See the video) This multi-year effort to create a significant park and open space in downtown Issaquah included a large Chinook salmon habitat restoration project completed in 2015, funded in part with grants directed by WRIA 8. Mountains to Sound Greenway has been a major partner throughout the effort. Plan to visit Confluence Park and Salmon Run Nature Park this fall to watch for returning salmon as part of Salmon SEEson.

Salmon recovery curriculum: Watershed Management for Salmon Recovery: A Reference GuideNew salmon recovery curriculum available

Funded by a Cooperative Watershed Management grant, Sound Salmon Solutions created a Watershed Management for Salmon Recovery Reference Guide for WRIA 8, now available at www.govlink.org (pdf). The grant also funded a tour for watershed decisionmakers to learn more about salmon recovery. On May 19th, WRIA 8 staff Jason Mulvihill-Kuntz and Scott Stolnack presented information about salmon recovery projects in Seattle’s Beer Sheva Park, including the Lower Mapes Creek Restoration that added juvenile Chinook rearing habitat there.

What will conditions be like in the watershed this summer?

Snowpack in the Cascade Mountains, Washington StateAs you no doubt noticed, our region just experienced one of its wettest and coldest winters and springs on record! Snowpack was abundant this year and regional water supplies are in good shape right now. However, NOAA predicts higher than normal temperatures for the Northwest over the next three months, with precipitation likely near normal. Remember that low flows and high water temperatures can affect salmon even if there is not a drought. And using water wisely is always a good idea to help fish! Keep current on current and forecasted conditions at:

Salmon in the news:

Court rules state must fix culverts that block salmon passage (Seattle Times)

NW researchers note that changing ocean chemistry is making it harder for salmon to small danger (KUOW)

Floodplain projects open doors to fewer floods and more salmon
Rainbow Bend is featured in this article about Floodplains by Design (Encyclopedia of Puget Sound)

California salmon scientists say wild Chinook could all but vanish from the state within 100 years (NPR)

Mark your calendars:

Find out how to manage your shoreline July 22 at Discovery Park
The King Conservation District is sponsoring a FREE workshop for those who own property along the marine shorelines of King County. In the morning, learn from local experts about the ecological, geological and vegetation management issues of these special areas and stay for an optional field trip.

Learn about knotweed control June 28th in Maple Valley
Learn about this invasive weed and how to control it, and borrow control equipment free at a knotweed workshop at the Maple Valley Library. More information about this and other trainings and weeds of concern is available.

Early notice! Climate conference in Tacoma October 10-11
Plan now to attend the Eighth Annual Northwest Climate Conference: Working Together to Build a Resilient Northwest. Each year the conference brings together more than 300 researchers and practitioners from around the region to discuss scientific findings, challenges, and solutions related to the impacts of climate on people, natural resources, and infrastructure in the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada. 

Grant opportunity:
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is accepting grant proposals for funding from the Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program (KWRCP), whose mission is to study and protect killer whales in the wild. Program priorities include supporting projects that increase prey availability, including “riparian and nearshore habitat restoration projects for Chinook salmon in Puget Sound.” Proposals are due July 13; eligible applicants include non-profits, state, federal and local governments, tribes, schools and businesses. Learn more from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation website.

Volunteer opportunities:
As the weather warms, planting sites need volunteers to work on invasive plant removal. Join Mountains to Sound for this important restoration work:

Get the details from Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust.

Chinook salmon (also known as king salmon) are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In WRIA 8, citizens, scientists, businesses, environmental and community organizations, and local, state and federal governments are cooperating on protection and restoration projects and have developed a science-based plan to conserve salmon today and for future generations. Funding for the salmon conservation plan is provided by 28 local governments in the watershed. For more information visit our website at www.govlink.org/watersheds/8/.

If you would like to submit an item for inclusion in the next WRIA 8 e-newsletter, please email linda.grob@kingcounty.gov.