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

Plan Update approved

Plan Update CoverOn September 21, the Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed (WRIA 8) Salmon Recovery Council approved the final draft 10-year update to the WRIA 8 Chinook Salmon Conservation Plan. The Plan Update process, initiated in early 2016, involved working with the WRIA 8 Technical and Implementation committees and other partners to incorporate new science and information, lessons learned from the first 10 years of implementing habitat restoration projects, and review and revision of recovery strategies.

Since 2000, WRIA 8 partners have worked together to improve conditions for threatened Chinook salmon, with the goal of bringing Chinook salmon back to sustainable, harvestable levels. After more than ten years, we have made great progress on many of our short-term goals, but salmon population numbers are still far short of a level that would consistently support sustainable runs for tribal and recreational fishing year-to-year and fulfill treaty-guaranteed tribal fishing rights.

WRIA 8 staff, the Implementation and Technical Committees, and the Salmon Recovery Council have been working diligently on a 10 year update of the 2005 WRIA 8 Chinook Salmon Conservation Plan. The 2017 Plan Update is an addendum to the 2005 Plan, but is also intended to stand on its own. The 2017 Plan Update continues themes and content from the original Plan, documents what has been learned during the first 10 years of implementation, includes new habitat goals, and identifies new and updated strategies to meet salmon recovery goals. See the approved final draft Plan Update.

Salmon Returns

Official counting of salmon through the Ballard Locks ends each year on October 2. In 2017, the following totals were reported (totals are still subject to revision):

Ballard Locks

Species 2017 Count % of 20-year average return
Chinook 7,236 71%
Sockeye 133,019 74%
Coho 14,527 62%

Salmon are now moving up through our rivers and streams. Biologists have begun annual spawning ground surveys in North, Little Bear, May, Kelsey, and Bear/Cottage Lake creeks and the Cedar River; estimates of the number of spawning adults will be available later this fall.

See salmon returning to local streams

Salmon SEEson Native salmon — sockeye, chinook, coho and chum, kokanee and pinks — have begun their journey from the open ocean to their birthplaces in the streams and rivers that feed into Puget Sound. The Salmon SEEson program helps you be able to witness their amazing journey at locations around King County.

The Salmon SEEson website provides information on salmon-spotting locations — from Bear Creek in Redmond to the Green River in Auburn, and from Piper's Creek in Seattle's Carkeek Park to Ebright Creek in Sammamish. This is the 11th year of the program. Some salmon-viewing opportunities are self-guided, while volunteer naturalists are available at other locations on select dates to help visitors spot the fish and learn about the salmon's lifecycle and habitat needs.

Video of spawning salmon in the Cedar River

Chinook salmon Recent video by King County ecologists shows salmon continue to use the side channel constructed as part of the Rainbow Bend Floodplain Restoration project site on the Cedar River. The side channel habitat has only been available to salmon since 2013, and it was occupied by salmon immediately after the project was completed. The video documents salmon continuing to use this important habitat. The WRIA 8 Chinook Salmon Conservation Plan identifies projects that restore floodplain processes and provide salmon rearing, refuge, and spawning habitat as the highest priority for the Cedar River.

Cooperative Watershed Management 2017 grants approved

The 2017 Cooperative Watershed Management (CWM) grant funding recommendations approved by the WRIA 8 Salmon Recovery Council on May 18 were approved by the King County Flood Control District on August 21. With this approval, grant awards totaling $2,379,345 will be provided to ten habitat protection and restoration projects, five outreach and education programs, and two monitoring efforts.

"I Love the Cedar River" public meeting

Salmon recovery curriculum: Watershed Management for Salmon Recovery: A Reference Guide

King County, the King County Flood Control District, and the Cedar River Council are co-hosting the seventh annual "I Love the Cedar River" public open house on October 19, from 6 to 8pm at Lake Wilderness Lodge in Maple Valley. The purpose of the meeting is to share information about projects to reduce flood hazards and restore salmon habitat and other efforts related to improving the community and ecological health of the Cedar River basin with community members and stakeholders. More information is available on the King County website.

Preventing Further Spread of New Zealand Mudsnails

The New Zealand mudsnail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum), a highly invasive non-native species, is being found in several streams and rivers in King County and WRIA 8. Individual New Zealand mudsnails are relatively small, but may reach large densities and alter the chemistry and ecology of streams. Mudsnails have no natural predators, parasites, or diseases to control their population size in North America. They can multiply very quickly and have the potential to become a serious economic and ecological problem for the Puget Sound region. The snail has been identified in King County in eight freshwater stream systems, including the following six WRIA 8 streams: New Zealand Mudsnails

King County recommends avoiding going into the water (or nearby damp muddy places) in areas where New Zealand mudsnails have been found. If you do enter the water or adjacent damp areas, clean your boots and check carefully to make sure you are not carrying them.

Green Shores for Homes Training Program

Green Shores for Homes Training Program A two-day workshop on the Green Shores for Homes voluntary, incentive-based program to promote shoreline enhancement/restoration on waterfront properties is being held on October 23-24, from 8:30am — 4pm at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture (3501 NE 41st St., Seattle, WA 98105). The workshop provides participants with in-depth knowledge about how the Green Shores credit and rating systems can be used to improve the quality of shoreline enhancement/restoration projects. Green Shores for Homes is a voluntary program similar to green building rating programs such as Built Green and LEED with a focus on waterfront properties. A residential project receives points for design features.

The content is of interest to professionals (biologists, engineers, planners, landscape architects) and contractors, local and regional government staff, and others seeking to implement the Green Shores program for a shoreline improvement, new design or development, or other related shoreline projects. The workshop costs $395. To register or for more information, contact Nicole Faghin.

New Zealand Mudsnails

Salmon in the news

Ban Atlantic salmon farming in Washington waters - Seattle Times Op-Ed by David Montgomery

Everything you wanted to know about Atlantic salmon — in the Northwest - Crosscut

Funding Opportunities

The Healthy Watersheds Consortium (HWC), a partnership between the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, has called for 2018 Request for Proposals. The goal of the HWC Grant Program is to "accelerate strategic protection of healthy, freshwater ecosystems and their watersheds", with primary focus on prevention of land deterioration in the watershed by:

Applications are due February 1, 2018 at 8 p.m. Eastern and up to $3 million is available. Visit the website for more information on the Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program, resources that will help develop your proposal, and to register for the webinars.

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.