September 2018 Newsletter
Snoqualmie Watershed Forum

What’s New in the Snoqualmie Watershed

Salmon SEEson program adds three salmon viewing sites in Snoqualmie Watershed

Salmon SEEson, an annual fall program that promotes salmon viewing opportunities for the public, has launched its 12th season, adding three sites in the Snoqualmie/Skykomish watershed this year. The three sites are located at Chinook Bend Natural Area, the footbridge over the Snoqualmie River at Tolt MacDonald Park, and the footbridge over the Tolt River on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. Salmon SEEson is sponsored by the Saving Water Partnership, King County, Duwamish Alive, WRIA 8, WRIA 9, and the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum. Check out the Salmon SEEson website for more information on viewing locations! Posters and flyers are available for display and distribution — please contact Laura West if you would like some. Use #SalmonSEEson to share your photos on social media!

Think Your Farm Protects Salmon Habitat?

Photo by Stewardship Partners.

Want to brag about it? Become a Salmon-Safe certified farm! Salmon-Safe is an eco-label that recognizes and rewards farmers who adopt agricultural practices that help promote healthy watersheds and protect native salmon habitat. To date, Stewardship Partners have helped transition more than 100 different Washington farms and vineyards to the program — ensuring the restoration and maintenance of watershed health across tens of thousands of agricultural acres.

Washington’s very first Salmon-Safe farms are in the Snoqualmie Watershed! Full Circle Farm and Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center were both certified in 2004 and have since engaged with Stewardship Partners through events and riparian habitat restoration. Interested in learning more? Email Amelia Bahr with any questions or if you are ready to become certified!

Lillian McGill (University of Washington), Andrew Miller (King County) and Ashley Steel (PNW Research Station, Forest Service) downloading water temperature data from a data logger at Dingford Creek on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. Photo by Aimee Fullerton (NW Fisheries Science Center, NOAA).

Middle Fork Snoqualmie Water Temperature Monitoring

The US Forest Service PNW Research Station and NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center are collecting their seventh year of water temperature data as part of a basin-wide research program. With University of Washington graduate students, the data are being analyzed using new spatial modeling tools to estimate and map water temperature across the river network and over seasons (Figure 1). This summer, they teamed up with King County to better understand water temperature patterns on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. From October 2017 through Sept 2018, they also collected water samples for stable isotope analysis in hopes of providing insight into how the distribution of snowmelt across the basin may shift under a changing climate.

Figure 1. Estimated and mapped summer (left) and winter (right) mean temperatures across the Snoqualmie River basin using data from a collaborative basin-wide monitoring project.

Community Presentation on Climate Change Impact Predictions

Tues, October 2 at 7:00 p.m.
Hosted by the nonprofit Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Alliance
Climate Adaptation Specialist Crystal Raymond, PhD of the UW Climate Impacts Group will present on climate predictions for the Snoqualmie and Snohomish basins. Topics include overall trends in Western Washington, what the long range models are predicting for changes in peak flows, changes in snowpack, and impacts on low flows in summer.

Date: Tues, October 2
Time: presentation begins at 7:00 p.m.; light refreshments at 6:30 p.m.
Location: SnoValley Senior Center, 4610 Stephens Ave Carnation
RSVP: reservations are not required for this free event, but it is always helpful to know how many to expect. Let us know by email, or by phone at 425-549-0316.
Hosted by: Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Alliance

About Crystal Raymond, PhD
Crystal’s professional mission is to connect decision-makers and resource managers to the science and information they need to effectively consider the impacts of climate change in their work. Learn more about her and the Climate Impacts Group.

Provide Input on Comprehensive River Management Plan for the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers

The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is kicking off the development of the Comprehensive River Management Plan for the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Wild and Scenic Rivers and is seeking input on important river values.

Invitation to Middle Fork Snoqualmie & Pratt River Values Workshop
The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest invites you to participate in a workshop on October 11th, 9:00am-12:30pm at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery Watershed Science Center to share your knowledge about the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Wild and Scenic Rivers. The workshop will include resource-specific break-out group discussions about the important and unique aspects of ecology, water quality and hydrology, recreation, and other values.

Input received during this workshop will be considered for the Forest’s river values assessment, an analysis to establish the rivers’ “outstandingly remarkable values” (ORVs) and identify preliminary issues and opportunities associated with protecting and enhancing river values, including water quality and free-flowing condition. See more information about the planning process or to provide input on river values using an online collaborative map.

Please Save the Date
October 11th, 9:00am - 12:30pm at the Issaquah Hatchery Watershed Science Center, 125 W. Sunset Way, Issaquah , WA 98027

Let’s Get Growing!

King County and partners will plant 1 million trees by 2020 across King County in both urban and rural areas. It will take a lot of hard work—and a lot of outdoor fun—but we know we can achieve this goal.

Grab your friends and attend a pre-scheduled planting event in a King County Park this planting season. If you’ve been busy planting your own trees add them to our tally on our counting app. Don’t have a backyard or a free weekend coming up? You can still be involved in the 1 million trees campaign by donating to the King County Parks Foundation. For more information on the 1 Million Trees campaign visit the website.

What to do if a beaver is impacting your property

This flowchart will help you decide what actions to take if beavers are impacting your property.

Orca updates

Photo by NOAA Fisheries.

Puget Sound’s resident orca population is in trouble. The individual orca known as J35, or Tahlequah, garnered worldwide attention as she carried her dead calf for 17 days in late July and early August, traveling over 1,000 miles. Orcas, along with other mammals, are known to carry deceased offspring in what scientists believe to be an expression of grief. The 3.5 year old orca known as J50, or Scarlet, is presumed dead, although some searching continues, after weeks of coordinated efforts to assist her with antibiotics and live Chinook salmon. In response to the news about Tahlequah’s plight, Renee Erickson, chef and co-owner of a number of seafood restaurants in Seattle, decided to take Chinook of her menus in an effort to leave more for the starving orcas.

When orcas were first listed as endangered in 2005, they were believed to live mostly around Puget Sound, and therefore the “critical habitat” protected under the Endangered Species Act only includes waters in Puget Sound and Washington State. It was later learned that they spend up to 90% of their time outside of Puget Sound, traveling from San Francisco to Canada. The National Marine Fisheries Service stated it would extend the orca-habitat protections along Oregon and Northern California coasts by 2017, but still hasn’t done so. Habitat protection is critical for limiting negative human impacts on whales, such as pesticide use and fishing, as orcas can absorb pesticides, flame retardants, and other chemicals into their fatty tissues. On August 16, the Center for Biological Diversity sued the federal government for failing to meet its obligation to protect the habitat of Southern Resident Killer Whales. This New York Times article outlines the threats Southern Resident Killer Whales face, including lack of Chinook salmon, echolocation and communication interference from ship noise, potential spills from oil tankers, smaller gene pools and inbreeding as a result of theme park captures in the 1970s and 1980s, pollution from municipal and industrial waste, and disease transmission.

On September 5, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced a 60-day comment period on creating new areas of critical habitat for the Southern Resident Whales. The Department also reduced Chinook salmon harvest by up to 35% for the 2018 fishing season with a full closure in three key foraging areas from June 1 through September 30. On August 30, a Canadian federal court revoked approval for the permit for construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion due to concerns over inadequate assessments of the pipeline’s harm to the Southern Resident Killer Whales and concerns of First Nations. Canada’s National Energy Board recommended approval of the project, while acknowledging it would delay recovery of the Southern Resident Killer Whales, citing the impacts were beyond its scope. The federal court disagreed and sent the project back for reconsideration.

The Governor’s Orca Task Force has been meeting regularly and is expected to issue a draft report on October 1 with a full report due on November 1. A draft list of potential actions for discussion at the Orca Task Force meetings can be found on the Governor’s website.

Savor Snoqualmie Valley

Savor Snoqualmie Valley is a collaborative effort to celebrate and promote the local food and farms, arts, culture, heritage, outdoor activities, and independent businesses of the Snoqualmie Valley. From historic downtowns and train depots, to old mills and bridges, the Snoqualmie Valley is full of fascinating stories and interesting places to visit. Today, the tradition of farming continues, with nearly one hundred small family farms producing meat, dairy, eggs, vegetables, fruit, flowers, honey and fiber for the Puget Sound region. The Snoqualmie Valley Trail offers the opportunity to get out and explore this beautiful agricultural valley in our region. Along the way, explore the cities of Duvall, Carnation, Snoqualmie and North Bend and the town of Fall City. Experience a diverse spectrum of fine arts as you stroll through the historic downtowns and peruse local art in coffee shops, stop in at a gallery, or enjoy the outdoor art featured on Main Street. Plan a trip and make a stop — there's much to see, eat and do in the Valley! For more information visit the Savor Snoqualmie website.

Tolt Pipeline Protection Project

Construction of the Tolt Pipeline Protection Project began earlier this summer. The project, located along the Snoqualmie River south of Duvall, will rebuild and improve 1,200 feet of damaged revetment which provides critical protection to the Tolt River pipeline. The pipeline supplies water to more than a million residents in several cities and water districts, including Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Issaquah, Bothell, Kirkland, the Sammamish Plateau, Woodinville, Northshore, Lake Forest Park and Duvall. The project will also replace a damaged culvert and flood gate on Deer Creek to improve flood protection and drainage for nearby farms and roads. Fish and wildlife habitat will be significantly enhanced through creation of a large, off-channel alcove, restoration of 600 feet of creek channel and planting of over 8 acres with native plants and trees along the river bank and Deer Creek. Construction is expected to be substantially complete in October.

Funding opportunities:

Department of Ecology Combined Water Quality Program
The Department of Ecology has published their Water Quality Program Fiscal Year 2020 Funding Guidelines and is holding workshops to provide information about the state’s Combined Water Quality Grant and Loan funding cycle. Applications will be accepted from August 13 – October 15, 2018. For more information, please visit Ecology’s website on the funding cycle, funding guidelines, or financial assistance workshops.

Streamflow Restoration
In September 2018, the Department of Ecology will begin accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2019 Streamflow Restoration Grants. This opportunity emerged from the 2018 Streamflow Restoration Act (which was passed in response to the Hirst water rights decision), and $20 million will be available for new projects in this initial solicitation. The application deadline is expected to be October 31, 2018, with funding decisions made by the end of the year.

Projects that acquire water rights, enhance water storage, or promote water conservation and efficiency in a way that provides permanent streamflow benefits are considered high priority. Riparian and stream habitat improvements without direct streamflow benefits are eligible, but they are a lower priority. A variety of habitat project types are considered eligible, including channel enhancements, riparian restoration, land acquisition, levee modification and floodplain reconnection, and fish passage improvements. For more information, refer to Ecology’s Interim Funding Guidelines.

Training opportunities:

Restoration Project Management
Thursday, October 4, 9am-4pm
Center for Urban Horticulture, Douglas Classroom, 3501 NE 41st St, Seattle, WA 98105 Instructors: Brenda Clifton, Restoration Ecologist, Skagit River System Cooperative; Ashley ‘GRIZZ’ Gould, Environmental Scientist, King County Dept. of Natural Resources & Parks; and Rachael West, EarthCorps Project Manager
Cost: $175
Professional Credits: APLD-5.75, ASLA-5.75, CPH-6, ecoPRO-6, NALP/WALP-6 — Other Credits Pending

Class attendees will be introduced to restoration-relevant project management concepts in order to plan and implement more successful and cost effective ecological restoration projects. They will leave able to describe important considerations of project management, create a simple project schedule, and create a simple project budget, in addition to being able to identify the most important resources for restoration practitioners to refer to as they manage restoration projects.

Applying Ecological Concepts and Theories to Restoration Design, Maintenance, and Management
Thursday, October 11, 9am-1pm
Center for Urban Horticulture, Douglas Classroom, 3501 NE 41st St, Seattle, WA 98105
Instructor: Rodney Pond, Executive Director for Sound Salmon Solutions
Cost: $105
Professional Credits: APLD-3.75, CPH-4, ecoPRO-4, NALP/WALP-4 - Other Professional Credits Pending

Class attendees will learn about the ecological concepts and theories most relevant to restoration project development, design, and implementation in order to increase the resistance and resilience of their own restoration projects. They will learn ways in which ecological concepts and theories can be practically applied using local and global restoration projects as examples as well as in the context of discussing their own projects.

See more ProHort classes and Ecological Restoration classes from UW Botanic Gardens!

Salmon in the news:

A Dwindling Catch Has Alaskans Uneasy
In many parts of the state, Alaskans witnessed the worst summer for red salmon, or sockeye, that anyone can remember. The Copper River saw its smallest run in 38 years and a number of rivers were closed to fishing in July so enough salmon could reach their spawning grounds. The state-wide commercial catch was just above the five-year average, due to record catches in Bristol Bay, but communities in the rest of the state are seeing economic effects of the low catch and are worried for a winter without the normal stocks of smoked and frozen salmon. Scientists are in the process of studying the problem, and hypothesize it is related to recent warmer ocean temperatures, but don’t have enough data yet.

New Science Publication Quantifies Record-Setting Salmon Abundance in the North Pacific Ocean
A new study finds Pacific salmon numbers are at their highest since record keeping began in 1925. Pink, Chum, and Sockeye have been more abundant during the past 25 years than at any time since 1925, but Chinook, Coho, and Steelhead numbers have been depressed. The authors speculate on the ocean carrying capacity and recommend changes in hatchery management to make data about hatchery- and natural-origin trends more accessible.

Fish Will Start Losing Sense of Smell as Carbon Dioxide Levels Rise, Study Finds
A recent study on European juvenile sea bass warns that fish will start losing their ability to detect different smells by the end of the century if atmospheric carbon dioxide levels keep rising. When carbon dioxide is dissolved in ocean water, it turns to carbonic acid, increasing the acidity of the ocean. When exposed to carbon dioxide amounts predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to be in seawater by the year 2100, the juvenile sea bass had to be about 42 percent closer to an odor source to detect it. This has implications for feeding, predation, and reproduction and scientists can only speculate on possible species adaptations.

Audit finds 70 percent of B.C. fish-processing plants do not comply with environmental regulations
A recent audit of 30 British Columbia fish-processing plants found that more than 70% of plants are out of compliance with environmental regulations. The audit indicated that typical undiluted effluent is “frequently acutely lethal to fish.” The audit was sparked by a viral video of a bloody plume spewing into the Salish Sea from a plant that processes farmed salmon, which the plant website declared was disinfected and causes no harm to fish. Fish farms in B.C. are on month-to-month leases until 2022, when all fish farms must receive consent from First Nations to operate and demonstrate their operations do not harm wild salmon.

And, as always, remember that the beautiful "From Mt. Si to Wild Sky" watershed posters — featuring the photography of talented Valley residents — are available FREE from Laura West or by calling (206) 477-7574.

The Snoqualmie Watershed Forum works to protect and restore the health of the SF Skykomish and Snoqualmie Watersheds in harmony with the cultural and community needs of the Valley.

If you would like to be added or removed from the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum mailing list, or if you would like to submit an item for inclusion in the next Snoqualmie Watershed Forum e-newsletter, please contact Laura West.

Funding for this publication is provided by King County Flood Control District.