What's New in the Snoqualmie Watershed
Snoqualmie Watershed Forum

In this edition...

It's Salmon SEEson Again!

Fall is coming and salmon will be returning to streams and rivers throughout King County to spawn. The 14th annual Salmon SEEson program will run from late August through November, promoting self-guided salmon viewing sites as well as virtual tour opportunities. If you decide to visit a self-guided site near you, please remember to recreate responsibly: plan ahead, practice physical distancing, wear a mask, choose a site near you, leave no trace, and contribute to an inclusive experience for all. Check out the Salmon SEEson website for more information on self-guided and virtual viewing opportunities!

King County scientists sampling fish on the Snoqualmie River near NE 124th Street using a cataraft.

How are Fish Using Snoqualmie Habitat Projects? Join Us on Sept 16th to Find Out

For over 20 years, the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum has worked closely with partners to restore the banks of the Snoqualmie River to make them better suited for young salmon to find food and shelter. Join the Forum at its virtual September 16, 2020 meeting from 2:00 PM — 4:00 PM for a presentation about how fish use these areas and how these investments are paying off. Josh Kubo, King County Environmental Scientist, will present effectiveness monitoring results from selected habitat improvement areas. You can join this and future meetings by checking the Forum's meeting schedule and RSVPing with Carla Nelson, Administrative Coordinator.

Long Live The Kings, Ready, Set, Migrate! Survive the Sound
An aerial view of the project site during a flood event.

Virtual Open House: Fall City Floodplain Restoration Project

The Fall City Floodplain Restoration Project will restore floodplain and river processes to 145 acres along the Snoqualmie River near Fall City. The goals of the project include reducing flood impacts to nearby residences and businesses while improving and expanding habitat for young fish, which need slow-flowing, complex channels to grow and survive. Check the web site or sign up for project updates to hear about the virtual open house, tentatively scheduled for October 2020.

WSDOT Addressing Fish Passage Barriers along SR 202 and SR 203

Culverts are important for passing water under roads, but too often, they act as barriers to fish migration. The good news: replacing culverts with fish-friendly structures can open up miles of previously inaccessible habitat for salmon and many other aquatic species.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is addressing 4 fish passage barriers this summer in the Snoqualmie Watershed. Collectively, these 4 projects will open up more than 14 additional miles of fish habitat. WSDOT plans to replace three culverts that pass under State Route 202 between Redmond and Fall City, one on Patterson Creek and two on unnamed tributaries to Patterson Creek, providing fish access to 11.25 miles of stream. An additional project planned under SR 203 just south of Duvall will replace a culvert and allow fish back into 3.1 miles of stream. Expect delays and a detour for the SR 202 replacements between Aug 28th — Sept 14th. The SR 203 culvert replacement has been underway for most of August.

Learn more by visiting WSDOT Project Pages:

Fire Danger Returns to Western Washington

The Cougar Creek Fire in Klickitat County, Washington, 2015. Photo courtesy of US Forest Service

Interested in fire ecology, wildfire risk, or wildfire management strategies in Washington State? A recent article from the Salish Sea Currents magazine explores the differences in wildfire risk between Eastern and Western Washington, how that risk is increasing due to climate change, and potential strategies for managing wildfire risk.

Preparing for wildfire in Washington has never been more important. The National Weather Service predicted a warmer and drier than average summer this year across Washington, and significant wildland fire potential remains above normal through September in the Cascade Mountains. Researchers who study the risk of wildfire say a warming climate could bring an increasing number of fires to the doorsteps of more than a million homes scattered among the woods or clustered in small communities throughout Western Washington. Read the article to learn about the latest research on wildfire management and how the choices you make can make a difference for reducing wildfire risk.

New Seawall Improves Migratory Pathway for Young Salmon

Juvenile chum salmon swimming along the new Seattle seawall © Mike Caputo/UW

Shoreline armoring is ubiquitous in Puget Sound. Over 29% of natural shorelines have been displaced by hard armoring such as rocks or bulkheads, including shorelines in WRIA7. Armoring poses a problem for juvenile salmon that naturally migrate along shorelines in shallow water to avoid predators. Along armored shores, shallow water disappears when the tide comes in, exposing migrating salmon to increased predation and a lack of food on their long journeys. And while some effort is being made to slow additional armoring, and even remove some armoring, the process is slow. Realistically, at least some of our Puget Sound shoreline armoring is probably here to stay. Is there another tool in our toolbox to provide improved shoreline habitat for young salmon, while still protecting shoreline infrastructure?

New innovations along the Seattle seawall may provide inspiration for a new kind of shoreline armoring that can provide salmon habitat while protecting the built environment. Design innovations along the new Seattle waterfront seawall such as a bench that creates shallow habitat and glass blocks in the sidewalk above to allow light through the deck may boost the fitness and chances of survival for young salmon. New scientific findings suggest a real payoff from these enhancements. Learn more by accessing the article above.

Save the Date — FREE Climate Summit 2020 on October 7

The Washington Insurance Commissioner is convening a national audience of climate, government and insurance professionals to better understand and explore how climate change affects our communities, regulatory efforts, and businesses. You can join by registering and attending the free, online Climate Summit 2020. The summit's focus on actions we can take to both mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts.

Schrier and Larsen Introduce Bill to Assist Salmon and Steelhead Passage

Congresswoman Kim Schrier

On July 27, 2020, Congresswoman Kim Schrier and Representative Rick Larsen introduced a bill to ensure projects benefiting salmon and steelhead receive equal consideration under a federal law to restore aquatic ecosystems for fish and wildlife.

Examples of such projects critical to fish habitat or passage in the new authority include:

Section 206 projects provide authority for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out aquatic ecosystem restoration and protection projects. It must be demonstrated that the proposed project will increase aquatic ecosystem habitat units and is cost-effective.

Funding Opportunities

Flood Mitigation Assistance & the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Grant Programs
On August 4, 2020, FEMA posted the Fiscal Year 2020 Hazard Mitigation Assistance Notification of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) for two grant programs:

Eligible entities are invited to submit Pre-Applications to Washington State's Emergency Management Division's Mitigation Section expressing their interest in applying for grant funding under the annual BRIC and FMA rounds. Email with questions and submission materials.

*Pre-Applications are due by September 8, 2020*

See the documents below for more information concerning the BRIC and FMA grant rounds:

Puget Sound Stewardship and Mitigation Fund
Grant awards up to $40,000 are available for non-profit, governmental, or tribal partners from the Puget Sound Stewardship and Mitigation Fund. If your small neighborhood-based organization has a compelling project, the Rose Foundation may be willing to act as your fiscal sponsor for this grant proposal.

The Fund's goal is to mitigate past pollution runoff by supporting community-based efforts to protect or improve the water quality of Puget Sound. The proposed project must be designed to improve (or prevent degradation) of the water quality of Puget Sound and its larger watershed.

While most grants are for a period of one year, you may request a longer or shorter grant duration. See the website for examples of allowable projects and further details. Applications are due by September 18, 2020.

Department of Ecology's Water Quality Combined Funding Program
Ecology's Water Quality Combined Funding Program (WQC) provides annual funding to projects that improve and protect water quality throughout Washington. Applications for funding in this cycle are being accepted from August 11, 2020 to October 13, 2020 (via the online portal: EAGL). Ecology's Funding Guidelines for the State Fiscal Year 2022 are also available online.

Salmon and Orca in the News

Tulalip Tribes to buy 100-acre salmon habitat near Monroe
Tulalip Tribes plan to purchase part of a farm along the Skykomish River in order to restore Haskel Slough.

© Tulalip Tribes

A major fish barrier on the Pilchuck River removed: 37 more miles of salmon habitat restored
The Pilchuck dam removal was a $2 million project was led in partnership between the City of Snohomish and the Tulalip Tribes. You can watch the cam footage from the July 2020 Pilchuck Dam Removal project. For more information, see the Tulalip Tribes' website.

Alaska salmon returning smaller amid climate change, competition with hatchery fish, study finds
Alaska salmon have gotten smaller in recent decades, apparently driven by climate change and increased competition for food as hatcheries release some 5 billion fish into the North Pacific Ocean each year, according to a study published this month.

Disease may play significant role in salmon declines
While the steep decline in salmon populations in the Salish Sea has been widely studied, the potential role of infectious disease may be more important than previously understood.

Corps: Alaska mine would have adverse impacts on salmon site
A proposed gold and copper mine at the headwaters of the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery in Alaska would cause “unavoidable adverse impacts,” the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in a letter to the developer of the proposed Pebble Mine.

Art contests help carry the clean-water message to people around Puget Sound
Award-winning art inspired by our Puget Sound environment is showcased in this article by the Puget Sound Institute.

Pregnant orca raises hope but also stirs concern about a miscarriage
Tahlequah, the Southern Resident killer whale who garnered local and national interest two years ago, is pregnant again after carrying her dead calf for 17 days and more than 1,000 miles in 2018. Scientists said there may be multiple pregnancies among the Southern Residents right now, but up to 69 percent of pregnant orcas end up with a miscarriage or birthing a calf that dies shortly after it is born.

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.