What's New
Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed
Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 8

So much more than a culvert project!

Coal Creek after culvert replacement projectWhat started out as a City of Bellevue stormwater project to improve fish passage and replace an aging culvert under Coal Creek Parkway brought multiple community benefits when it was finished this fall. A new 39-foot bridge, which also serves as a culvert to carry Coal Creek, will safely handle the parkway's daily load of 28,000 motorists. A walkway under the bridge allows pedestrians safe passage to the Coal Creek Trail, and includes a viewing area where visitors can look for salmon. Stream restoration has improved fish passage, adding pools for resting, rootwads and gravels for habitat, and access to a mile of stream unavailable for many years.

In October, the Muckleshoot Tribe released over 1500 coho salmon into Coal Creek, a mile downstream of the project. As of December 1, staff had seen 151 coho and 58 redds upstream. Last year, even with 742 salmon released, staff did not find any upstream of the culvert. For more information, call Project Manager Bruce Jensen, Bellevue Utilities, at 425-452-7240.

A rare look at the Locks without water

Empty locks at Hiram Chittenden

Salmon Recovery Council partners joined Congressional staff on a tour of the Hiram M. Chittenden (Ballard) Locks November 25, while the large lock was de-watered for annual maintenance. Colonel Buck, Seattle District Commander, and other US Army Corps of Engineers staff briefed the group on infrastructure improvements urgently needed to update fish passage facilities and ensure safe operation of the Locks, which support recreation, marine industry, and local infrastructure.

Tour participants had a rare opportunity to travel 55 feet down into the empty chamber and see several Locks facilities, including the Pump Plant and the large lock emergency closure system, both of which have failed. Other parts of the facility show signs of needed updates. Visitors got an up-close look at the condition of the Locks, the risks posed by failing machinery, and the challenges facing the Corps in making the improvements. WRIA 8 partners were able to share directly with Congressional staff and the Corps their concerns about the availability of funding to make critical repairs.

Working for the return of the kokanee

Sammamish kokanee underwater WRIA 8 was once home to a native population of kokanee salmon whose habitat included the lower Cedar River, smaller tributaries to Lake Washington and the Sammamish River, and the Lake Sammamish watershed. Unlike sockeye, their larger relatives, kokanee do not swim out to the ocean but spend their whole lives in fresh water. They migrate from streams as inch-long fry and spend three to four years in Lake Sammamish before returning in the late fall and early winter to spawn in their natal streams.

Once numbering in the tens of thousands, this population has dipped below 110 spawners several times in recent years, and its range has shrunk to Lake Sammamish and a few tributary streams. Causes of kokanee decline may include altered stormwater flows, past hatchery practices, predation, fishing, passage barriers, and lake temperature and dissolved oxygen levels.

Sammamish kokanee release

Watershed residents, local jurisdictions, agencies, and NGOs formed the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group (KWG) in 2007 to identify and address the causes of kokanee decline. Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the KWG and the Lake Sammamish watershed an Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership (UWRP), which should help bolster stewardship to sustain the fish and the watershed into the future. The KWG also completed its Blueprint for the Restoration and Enhancement of Lake Sammamish Kokanee Tributaries, which details restoration projects that will help kokanee.

New video documents the story of restoring Rainbow Bend

If you haven't yet seen it, you'll want to watch the video Restoring Rainbow Bend, which documents an ambitious, decade-long project that protects people from flooding along the Cedar River and improves the river's health. Take a look and pass the link on:

Salmon survival is affected by filtering stormwater runoff

Upper Carlson Floodplain Restoration ProjectA recent Seattle Times article highlighted interesting research on stormwater runoff and prespawn mortality. Unsurprisingly, coho salmon exposed to runoff from Highway 520 died rapidly. But in this project by NOAA, WSU and the USFWS, a natural mixture of gravel, sand and compost cleaned water to a level safe for fish. Rain gardens, anyone?

Call for abstracts for 2015 Salmon Recovery Conference now open!

The 2015 Salmon Recovery Conference, slated for May 27 – 29 in Vancouver, WA, will showcase salmon recovery projects, habitat restoration, hatchery reform, and integrated management in Washington State and the region. Abstracts for presentations, sessions, and workshops will be accepted through January 16, 2015.

Marine survival site up and running

The website for the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project is now live! The site provides details about a comprehensive international research effort, begun this year, to determine the primary factors affecting the survival of juvenile salmon and steelhead in the Salish Sea.

Grant opportunities

In January, the Washington State Departments of Ecology and Commerce will solicit applications for grants under the National Estuary Program Watershed Protection and Restoration Grant Program. Grant guidelines and application instructions will be available in the New Year at:

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program applications are due February 3. Projects should address water quality issues in priority watersheds. The program focuses on stewardship and restoration of coastal, wetland and riparian ecosystems across the country.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is accepting grant applications for ALEA funds through February 28 for volunteer projects that benefit fish and wildlife.