Snoqualmie Watershed Forum Newsletter, April 2020: Play the salmon game, suction dredge mining ban and more!
Snoqualmie Watershed Forum

Snoqualmie Indian Tribe celebrates legislative win against suction dredge mining in Washington State

Suction dredging is a motorized method that mineral prospectors use to search for gold in the bottoms of waterways. Imagine a giant, floating vacuum that sucks up streambed gravels, then spits the tailings back out after sifting for precious metals. Miners say it's a quick and effective way of covering ground, but the process damages in-stream habitat. Photo courtesy of Kim McDonald; originally published in the Yakima Herald.

After years of advocating for regulatory reform of suction dredge mining in Washington State's streams and rivers, the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe is celebrating progress in Olympia. Prior to the passing of HB 1261, Washington State regulations on suction dredging were the laxest of many Western states, including Idaho, Oregon, California, and Montana. After many previous attempts, and years of hard work to raise awareness of this outdated and habitat-destroying practice, suction dredge reform finally passed both houses of the Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Inslee on March 18th, 2020. Suction dredge mining will now be banned from 11,000 miles of Washington stream habitat designated as 'critical' for salmon and trout, while remaining legal on 61,000 miles of 'non-critical' stream habitat.

Restoration project at Stossel Creek seeks to create a more resilient forest in the face of climate change

Tree seedlings at Stossel Creek, planted as part of a long-term climate change resilience experiment. Photo courtesy of Katie Egresi

The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust (MSGT) has been working with partners at Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, and Northwest Natural Resource Group to design a forest restoration project along Stossel Creek—located northeast of Carnation—that will test new methods aimed at establishing forests that are more resilient to climate change. MSGT and its collaborators are restoring a forest with trees grown from seed collected in southern Oregon and northern California. In these southerly regions, current climates are similar to what the western Washington climate is projected to become later this century. Already adapted to a warmer, drier climate, the southern-grown trees are expected to fare better than their native western Washington counterparts as they mature and the climate continues to change. This approach is just one of many potential climate adaptation strategies being developed for Pacific Northwest forests. The Stossel Creek strategic plan has already generated valuable lessons learned, and work will be ongoing.

Curious to learn more or want to get your hands dirty with MSGT? There are plenty of upcoming opportunities to participate!

Long Live the Kings' 2020 Survive the Sound campaign brings remote learning opportunities about salmon directly to you!

Long Live The Kings, Ready, Set, Migrate! Survive the Sound

Looking to pass some time, entertain your kids, or learn more about salmon from the comfort of your couch? Long Live the Kings is excited to announce that Survive the Sound is returning for another epic migration, and it's time to get in the action...remotely!

Survive the Sound is a FREE interactive online game where everyone is invited to pick a fish, form teams with friends and family, and watch 48 funny looking fish race for their lives. It's a little like fantasy football... but with actual fish swimming through Puget Sound! Over a 5-day migration from May 4-8, participants will receive daily updates about their fish and facts about salmon and steelhead. Sign up by May 3 at! Survive the Sound also has a fantastic set of educational activities available to bolster online learning. Anyone working to supply learning opportunities for students can take advantage of the materials accessible from

Coming together to support the farm and food industry in King County and beyond in response to COVID-19

Farm King County

These are unprecedented times. In response to the pandemic, Farm King County, a partnership between King County, King Conservation District, Washington State University Extension, and Washington State Department of Agriculture, has mobilized a dedicated partnership of talented agricultural resource providers to help farm and food business respond to the challenges of COVID-19. As the situation changes rapidly, Farm King County will provide timely, reliable, curated, and creative responses to the farm business environment through:

  1. Financial resources for farmers;
  2. Market opportunities;
  3. Information about how to meet COVID-19 health directives; and
  4. Connecting consumers to farm businesses.

To learn more, visit

Shake Mill Left Bank project stands strong through winter flooding; new project planned just across the river

From top to bottom, this photo series shows the progression of erosion from October (top photo) to February (bottom photo) at the Shake Mill Left Bank project on the North Fork Snoqualmie River. As high flows erode the bank, the buried log jams are able to engage with the river. Photos courtesy of Seth Amhrein.

How do you solve a problem like channel migration near a county road, balancing the need for fish habitat, natural process, and bridge protection? King County River and Floodplain Management has some creative solutions up their sleeve. At the Shake Mill Left Bank project on the North Fork Snoqualmie River they removed a levee, and in order to allow for more natural geomorphic process and channel migration while still protecting roads and properties, built a buried revetment consisting of rock and anchored logs far back from the original levee location. The project was completed in October 2019, just in time for the first flood of the year! As flooding continued throughout the winter, the project performed exactly as planned: erosion began to expose sections of the buried revetment, allowing the log structures and other habitat elements to come into contact with the river while protecting the land behind them. The series of photos shown above demonstrate the progression of the project’s engagement with the river.

Meanwhile, King County River and Floodplain Management is planning a new project, dubbed the Shake Mill Right Bank Repair Project, just across the river. This project, planned for summer 2020, will repair approximately 80 feet of damage to a levee to protect the county road and bridge. Existing bank armoring at the Shake Mill Left Bank setback revetment will also be removed to restore natural river processes and provide opportunities for additional in-stream habitat improvements.

Come attend these free habitat steward webinars to learn how to restore local wildlife habitats!

Become a Habitat Steward, ruby-crowned kinglet bird by Fyn Kynd, flickr creative commons

While stuck at home this spring, why not learn to become a Habitat Steward in your own backyard?

The National Wildlife Federation, in partnership with the King County WaterWorks Grant Program, is offering a specialized, multi-week webinar workshop to teach you how to help others create and restore wildlife habitat in backyards, schoolyards, and other private and public areas. Webinar sessions will take place April 21st, April 28th, May 5th and May 12th from 6:00 - 9:00 pm via a free video conference platform. On May 10th, participating Habitat Stewards will have the option of receiving hands-on experience installing a schoolyard habitat garden in Bellevue. During this webinar workshop, expert speakers from the community will present on gardening for wildlife, identifying native plants, managing noxious weeds, Pacific Northwest fungi, and much more! Register for the training online, email us or call (206) 577-7816.

Local advisory committee creates a task force to develop an agricultural strategic plan

In 2017, the Fish, Farm, Flood Advisory Committee agreed to a set of more than 30 recommendations to simultaneously improve fish habitats while at the same time strengthening the agricultural economy and reducing flood risk. One of those recommendations was the development of an agriculture strategic plan. With the help of a local task force made up of members from agriculture organizations, the Agriculture Strategic Plan is beginning to take shape. Read more

The plan's purpose is to improve the long-term productivity of farmland, bring more acres into food production, and increase opportunities for farmers to develop necessary infrastructure to support or increase their farm businesses. The plan will also specifically inform the development of acreage targets for permanently protected farmland and acreage for habitat restoration.

This fall, the task force will be looking for input through public meetings and written comments, targeting agricultural interest groups, individual farmers, landowners, and other interested parties, before making final recommendations and adopting the plan by the end of this year. Learn more about the Agriculture Strategic Plan or contact Patrice Barrentine for more information.

There is no poop fairy: free stickers promote campaign to Scoop It, Bag It, and Trash It

There is no poop fairy-free stickers promote campaign to Scoop It, Bag It, and Trash It. Puget Sound Starts Here. King County

There's a big problem here in the Puget Sound that we've been trying to bag up: dog poop left on the ground instead of bagged and put in the garbage. Recently, Puget Sound Starts Here created fun and colorful FREE stickers made to remind dog owners to "Scoop it, Bag it, and Trash it".

Why scoop the poop? It's the right thing to do for your neighborhood and for the environment. Pets can transmit disease to other pets and wildlife animals through pet waste. The nutrients in pet waste also cause algae blooms in our waterbodies that raise water temperatures and take up oxygen needed for fish and other aquatic life to thrive.

Get a FREE sticker when you visit These stickers can be placed on trash bins, water bottles, or laptops to help promote throwing away pet waste in a safe way. For more information on easy ways to help your environment, visit

Salmon in the news:

Washington's salmon seasons tentatively set for 2020-21
With some stocks at record lows and so much lost and damaged habitat, the Pacific Fishery and Management council is forcing the closure of several local fisheries for the upcoming 2020/2021 season.

Expanding efforts to keep ‘cows over condos' are protecting land across the West
Ranchers, farmers, and conservationists are partnering to protect lands that hold some of the world's most endangered ecosystems.

As the nation worries about coronavirus, the Trump administration is rolling back environmental rules
While the nation is tackling an international health crisis, several federal rollbacks could worsen the impact of COVID-19 by worsening air pollution.

Federal agencies consider protections for spring-run Chinook salmon in Oregon
An Oregon Chinook population may be listed under the Endangered Species Act after conservation groups submitted a federal petition to protect spring-run Chinook.

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 Carla Nelson or by calling 206-263-3050.

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 Carla Nelson.

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