October 2018 Newsletter
Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed
Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 8

Trout Unlimited Candidates' Forum on October 24

On Wednesday, October 24th at 7:00 pm at Rogue Ales Issaquah Brew House, the Bellevue-Issaquah chapter of Trout Unlimited is hosting the second annual Candidates' Forum featuring candidates from the 1st, 8th, and 9th Congressional Districts and 5th, 41st, 45th, and 48th Legislative Districts. Each candidate will be asked to comment on the conservation, protection, and restoration of the Lake Sammamish Watershed. More information can be found on the Facebook invite.


Salmon Numbers in WRIA 8 Indicate a Poor Return Year for all Species

Annual salmon counts at the Ballard Locks ended on October 2, as most of the Chinook, sockeye and coho salmon migrating into WRIA 8 have moved through the Locks and have begun the freshwater chapter of their spawning migration to their natal streams. Returns were poor for all three species: Salmon counters from WDFW and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe Fisheries Division estimate that about 6,700 Chinook, 32,100 sockeye and 11,000 coho migrated through the Locks between June and October 2. Those numbers are about 66%, 18%, and 48% of the long-term averages for Chinook, sockeye and coho salmon.


Check Out Salmon SEEson Sites Near You

The 12th annual Salmon SEEson program runs through November, so make sure to get out and look for salmon on an upcoming weekend! November weekend events include tours at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, events at Piper's Creek at Carkeek Park, and self-guided options at many other sites. Check out our Salmon SEEson website for more information on viewing locations.


Orca Updates

Photo: NOAA Fisheries

After three Southern Resident Killer Whale deaths in the summer of 2018 captured national attention, the Seattle Times reports that aerial photographs have shown at least three orcas are pregnant, while another orca, K25, is ailing. Scientists are hopeful for the pregnancies but warn of the high rate of reproductive failure. NOAA is asking whale watchers and other boats to give the orcas extra distance, as boats interfere with orcas' ability to use echolocation for hunting and communicating.

Threats to orcas globally include declining numbers of salmon to eat, as well as high levels of human-made toxins, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs are known to cause cancer, suppress the immune system, disrupt hormonal signals, and impair reproduction. In a recent report, scientists "estimated that even in the absence of other threats, PCBs alone will probably cause the collapse or severe decline of 10 out of the 19 orca populations they studied within the next century- the southern residents included," as summarized by The Atlantic. The southern residents are not included in the eight most heavily exposed populations that are expected to collapse completely, but are likely to decline significantly. Although most countries banned the use and production of PCBs more than 40 years ago, they are still present in old equipment and paints, and are persistent in the environment. Under the Stockholm Convention, signed by 152 countries, equipment that contains PCBs may continue to be used until 2025. PCBs accumulate in an orca's blubber and milk, and are released into the body when orcas rely on stored body fat for energy due to starvation.

NOAA Fisheries, The Nature Conservancy, and BGI, a global genomics company, are partnering to sequence the genomes of more than 100 Southern Resident Killer Whales using skin and other samples collected from live and dead orcas. The Seattle Times reports that the information could identify whether "internal factors such as inbreeding or genetic variation in immune systems are preventing the whales from rebounding." "A study published earlier this year that found that just two males in the small population fathered half of the calves that were born and sampled by scientists since 1990," but more data is needed. BGI will sequence the orcas' genomes and compare the results to those of thriving Alaskan populations and other transient whales.

In March, the Governor signed an executive order creating an Orca Task Force to develop policy recommendations at the regional, state, and federal level to reduce major threats and improve conditions for Southern Resident Killer Whales. The Orca Task Force is charged with preparing a comprehensive report and recommendations for recovering Southern Residents. A draft report of potential recommendations was released on September 24, with a public comment period that extended through October 7. The Task Force considered those public comments at their October 17-18 Task Force meeting, and will publish a final report by November 16, 2018. The next Orca Task Force meeting is on November 6, at a location to be announced. More information on the report and meetings can be found on the Task Force website.

More information:
FAQ: A primer on the critically endangered southern resident killer whales
A story map from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Governor's Orca Task Force
Actions you can take, as summarized by Puget Sound Conservation Districts


Puget Sound Orca Recovery Day — Saturday, November 10, 2018

Puget Sound Conservation Districts is organizing events throughout Puget Sound to create opportunities to join with your local Conservation District and work to recover our critically endangered Orca whales. King Conservation District is sponsoring a volunteer event from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to restore Judd Creek, one of Vashon's two major salmon-bearing creeks, by controlling invasive weeds and planting native trees and shrubs. A healthy riparian habitat means a healthy salmon population. This will, in turn, support our local orcas! Come and support this restoration project in your community! Register online via Eventbrite.


New Series of Videos from Northwest Treaty Tribes: Tribal Fishing 201

Northwest Treaty Tribes, a PR campaign of Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, has been putting out several video series the past few years about treaty rights and fisheries management. There are three videos in this series:

Previous video series can be found on the Northwest Treaty Tribes website.


Become a First Detector and Report Invasive Species

To help combat the $1.3 billion threat invasive species pose to Washington's economy every year, the Washington Invasive Species Council is inviting the public to the frontlines of its work by detecting invasive species and reporting them on its newly improved Washington Invasives app. The free app enables anyone to report a plant or animal by collecting photographs, geographic coordinates, and sighting information. Users recreating in the backcountry also can collect data offline, when cellular service isn't available. The app also acts as digital field guide. Links to download the apps can be found in the Council's Press Release.


Citizen Tool to Identify Stormwater Runoff-Related Salmon Deaths

Photo: NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Scientists are asking for Puget Sound area residents' help in identifying streams where salmon are affected by toxic stormwater runoff. Salmon exposed to toxic stormwater runoff can die within hours, and coho are especially susceptible. As urban growth and development continues, scientists anticipate an impact on wild coho populations, which are an important food source for many species including Southern Resident Killer Whales. By identifying the most polluted areas of the watershed, scientists will know where green infrastructure and other stormwater management strategies are most needed. View more information and the interactive reporting tool on the US Fish and Wildlife Service website.


Workshops, Restoration Events, and Tours

Help restore Zackuse Creek in Sammamish on October 27
The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe is hosting a restoration event at Zackuse Creek from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm on Saturday, October 27. Learn about native plants while planting trees and shrubs to help restore riparian forest and to improve habitat for salmon and other wildlife. More information can be found on the Facebook event. Please RSVP to Alex Harwell.

Take a Farm Tour Focused on Impacts to Salmon on October 27
King Conservation District is leading a free farm tour in Redmond on Saturday, October 27 from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. The tour will highlight how landowners with property adjacent to Bear Creek care for horses while also protecting Bear Creek for salmon habitat. RSVP via Eventbrite.

Understanding and Using Sea Level Rise Projections Workshop on November 6
The Shoreline and Coastal Planners Group is hosting a free workshop on Sea Level Rise Projections for Washington on Tuesday, November 6 in Edmonds. On July 31, Washington Sea Grant and the Climate Impacts Group produced sea level rise projections for 171 locations in Washington State. At this workshop, you will learn about findings from the NOAA-funded Washington Coastal Resilience Project, including the new sea level rise projections, and how to apply the information in decision making using the SLR information. RVSP with Washington Sea Grant.

Learn How to Beautify and Care for Your Streamside Property on November 6
King Conservation District (KCD) is hosting a free workshop on Tuesday, November 6 at the Renton Highlands Library from 6:30-8:30 pm, covering topics of minimizing pollution runoff, controlling invasive weeds, utilizing native plants for wildlife habitat and erosion control, adding value and beauty to your yard naturally, and learning about environmental regulations that impact your property. RSVP via Eventbrite.

Community Water Monitoring Workshops on November 10 and 17
Would you like to volunteer monitoring the water quality of local creeks? Sno-King Water Watchers is a Community-Based Water Monitoring program in the north King / south Snohomish County area. Learn about streams and watersheds, types of pollutants, how citizens can gather credible data about their local waterbodies, and action strategies you can employ to improve water quality through a mix of classroom and field work. On November 10, from 10:00 am — 4:00 pm, learn how water temperature, dissolved oxygen, and pH are all important variables for salmonids and other creatures that live in our streams. On November 17, from 10:00 am — 4:00 pm, learn about types of bacteria, E.coli standards in Washington waters, and simple, low-cost methods to evaluate local waterbodies for bacteriological contamination. More information can be found on the Water Watchers website.


Grant Opportunities and News

Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Inc. has published the 2019 Requests for Proposals for the Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program. Up to $1.2 million is available in 2019 for projects that accelerate strategic protection of healthy, freshwater ecosystems and their watersheds across the United States. An informational webinar will be held on Wednesday, October 24, at 11:00 am. The proposal deadline is February 4, 2019.

2018-2019 Federal Grant Survey
Congresswoman Jayapal's office is hosting several workshops to help municipalities, cities, businesses, and other organizations connect with grant opportunities and relevant federal agencies. They have asked for help identifying which issues are of the highest priority to stakeholders in Washington's 7th Congressional District. Your participation in this survey will help them create grant workshops for the upcoming funding cycle that are highly relevant to the needs of communities in this district.

King County Seeks Applicants for the Volunteer WaterWorks Grant Ranking Committee
The King County WaterWorks Grant Program is seeking six volunteers to serve on the WaterWorks Grant Ranking Committee. The Committee is a 13-member, volunteer advisory group appointed by the King County Executive and confirmed by King County Council. Nearly $2 million is awarded through the competitive grant program every two years for a variety of projects, including green stormwater infrastructure (rain gardens and cisterns), education and community engagement, research and monitoring, and stream and river bank restoration. Visit the recruiting page or press release for more details. The deadline for initial screening of applications is October 31.


Salmon in the News

Sockeyes or Totems? Announcing the winner of our (unofficial) tournament to name Seattle's NHL team
"Sockeyes" received the most votes in the Times' unofficial tournament to name Seattle's NHL team. On December 3-4, the NHL Board of Governors will vote on whether to add an expansion team in Seattle. If approved, a team name will be considered in the following months. Seattleites have strong opinions on the proposed names so far, including Krakens, Metropolitans, Steelheads, Totems, Sockeyes, Emeralds, Freeze, Grunge, Pilots, Cascades, Sasquatch, and Fightin' Geoducks. Read more on the official naming process.

In a five-person submarine, scientists in Friday Harbor unravel the mysteries of the Salish Sea
In September, research scientists explored the bottom of the Salish Sea off San Juan Island in a submarine, looking for sand lance, a type of forage fish that Chinook salmon eat. Scientists know very little about sand lance and their habitat, and are in the process of developing a baseline knowledge to compare future habitat changes against. In the September expeditions, they found more than they were expecting.

New study to assess risks of virus transfer from farmed Atlantic salmon to wild salmon
The Canadian government is undertaking a scientific review to assess the risks associated with viruses from farmed Atlantic salmon transferred to wild salmon.



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 lwest@kingcounty.gov.