Showing posts sorted by relevance for query gary smith. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query gary smith. Sort by date Show all posts

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Forest Steward Gary Smith Leads Work Party At Smith Woods Park

Green Redmond organized a work party at Smith Woods Park today to mulch a trail from it's eastside towards the park's western wetland.  Gary Smith, a long-time Forest Steward & Chair of the Parks and Trails Commission managed the project.  Sharon from City Parks worked hard and kept a close eye on the pitchforks, iron rakes and awesome ergonomic wheelbarrows.  About twenty-five neighborhood volunteers literally "pitched" in, laying 15 yards of mulch to build the trail.  Mulching six inches deep was necessary. We completed the project in only 2.5 hours.

The trail is an east-west connector with a destination to a donated park bench honoring the Smith family.  A ceremony to dedicate the bench is planned for next month. 

Forest Steward Gary Smith is in the foreground catching his breath.  The trail heads west from here towards the wetland.  Double click to enlarge.

Gary is standing left side of the mulch pile, Sharon is second from the right. So sorry the photo is blurred. Click pic to enlarge.

Internet

 Gary's been the Forest Steward at Idlewood Park for years. Here he's educating a child on restoration.  Learn more about Gary HERE (scroll)

Bob Yoder, Photos and Report, 1/15/2022

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Clip: "Slow Down - Curves Ahead" on WSDOT's proposed 520 widening project

Credit / Bob Yoder
Bear Creek flooding behind Safeway Bear Creek Shopping Center on 12/4/08. Yes, that is a park bench.

PLEASE WATCH THIS 1-MINUTE VIDEO FIRST. Click HERE . You will be taking a drive with "Citizen Gary Smith" westward on 520. While looking toward Redmond Town Center you will see Bear Creek flood waters encroaching only 20 feet from the SR520 freeway. Enjoy the music on the way.

When WSDOT builds four more lanes on top of the Bear Creek flood plain you are watching, where will the water go? Local geologist Susan Wilkins is HERE to tell you.

"SLOW DOWN - CURVES AHEAD!"
In response to WSDOT’s proposal to widen SR-520 between the new Redmond Way flyover and Sammamish River, citizen leaders, activists, and staff say “Fine, but do it in an environmentally responsible way.” We urge everyone in Redmond to carefully consider the unintended consequences of proposed 520 widening to our safety and welfare; flood hazards are a central issue. The project would fill & build 4 additional lanes into the flood plain – this, at a time with Olympia is recognizing “climate change” impacts to highway flooding. Potential life threatening flood hazards combined with destruction of endangered, listed species habitat creates critical concerns about the WSDOT plan. However, all parties agree to the value of a road widening to 8-lanes.

On January 8, 2008 our Redmond city attorney gave notice to Ben Brown at WSDOT regarding WSDOT’s refusal to apply for a “buffer variance”. WSDOT plans to encroach up to 100 feet into Redmond’s Critical Area buffer breaking our city land use laws.

The City’s solution is to meander Bear Creek to the north and away from SR 520; but that’s $10M WSDOT doesn’t have. Mayor Marchione, Councilmembers Cole and Allen, and Staff Managers Beam, Spangler, and Cairns. have been outspoken and supportive of alternatives. Spangler indicates $2.5M could be funded through city grants. Cole and Allen traveled to Olympia. Citizens and students are writing letters to their State Representatives.

NEWS FLASH: State Representative Ross Hunter corresponded on 1/27/08: “ We are working on trying to fix this”. Rep. Hunter is the Finance Committee Chairperson. There is hope!
You can help by writing your State representatives or State Transportation Committee Chairperson: Representative Judy Clibborn of Mercer Island.

Stay tuned....

Thanks to Gary Smith, past Trails Commissioner, for creating and producing the the 520 flood video clip and organizing citizenry participation. 

UPDATE: The lanes were later widened with embankments to keep 520 from flooding and protect the Bear Creek riparian and stream.   BY, 12/13/19

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Odds & Ends"

Odds & Ends

Affordable Housing 101

"Thumbs up" on purchasing Lake Tapps

That jokingly "evil" PRR government form!

SR 520 road widening news!

Affordable Housing 101- Many citizens are mis-informed about affordable housing, thinking it is funded primarily by public assistance. On the contrary -- on the Eastside, the majority of affordable housing is funded by the private sector. Visit "Housing 101" to learn more. Mortgage assistance (4% loans, and more!) is available for first time buyers of homes under $361,000 with incomes ranging from $40K - 67K. For details visit "House Key Plus ARCH". And don't forget to tell your children!
-- source: City Council meeting, 2/2008 and Arthur Sullivan, Program Manager, ARCH.

"Thumbs up" on buying Lake Tapps - The city council gave a "thumbs up" on approval of the Purchase and Sale of Lake Tapps (near Tacoma) for the Cascade Water Alliance. The Cascade alliance plans to pipe water into Lake Tapps for storage. The water source is the White River. It drains Emmons glacier on Mt. Ranier -- the ultimate source. A pipe up to 70 inches in diameter will transport the Lake Tapps water to Redmond and other eastside cities and districts. Since 2003 Emmons glacier has been receding. In one study, University of Washington scientists forecast a 59% loss of snowpack by 2050. I've mountaineered Emmons - its huge. The receding glaciers were not discussed publicly as a concern by the either the Cascade alliance or city officials during the council 3/08 meeting. The Cascade alliance pipe, conservation, and a smaller carbon footprint will ALL be required to keep our water supply at capacity. "By 2020 existing water supplies will not be enough to reach forecasted demands" according to the "2001 Puget Sound Regional Outlook". Councilman Cole summarized, we are fortunate to have the resources of Cascade Water Alliance.

That jokingly "evil" PRR government form - "PRR" is a government acronym for "Public Records Request Form". Yes, indeed, the public has a wonderful tool to acquire information they need to conduct business with the government and communicate with neighbors. It's the PRR! When you can't get the information you want from city hall you can try a PRR! By state law (and as long as your request is NOT for profit) the city is required to hunt around for what you ask for -- budget information, land use documents and more! And they can't dilly dally. Law states the information should arrive within 5 working days. Obviously, the city doesn't particularly like us snooping around "their records" and it creates extra work on their part. In addition, some would prefer to control the "inside information" rather than give it up to the public. Thus, the PRR is jokingly "evil" to some but a god-send to most.

SR 520 road widening news - Word is out a few local city and state government officials are "cautiously optimistic" about funding a Bear Creek meander to move it away from the 4 additional lanes planned for 520. The lanes will be built on the creek-side and will consume flood plain capacity and threaten endangered salmon. Meandering the creek will mitigate flooding, make traveling safer, and protect the listed salmon. Citizen Gary Smith (past Trails Commissioner, salmon aficionado and Water Tender ) has spearheaded and coordinated citizen efforts with the city, agencies and legislature and is a large reason for the success we've had to date. You can find Gary's regionally renowned 520-Bear Creek flood video clip here. Gary only recently announced guarded optimism for creek restoration funding.

Bob Yoder
Education Hill neighborhood

Friday, November 5, 2021

UPDATED OPINION, 11/7/2021: What Will Redmond Look Like In 2050?


Is it too late to make the massive 22-acre downtown Nelson "Village" palpable and resident friendly or will our elected officials cave to this developer?

In 2007, Redmond hired consultant Guy Michaelson from Berger Partnership of Seattle to give a vision  and suggestions for the development of Downtown Redmond.  Below, are two points he made, salient to Redmond 2050:

Guy emphasized the importance of "promenades" for connecting a hierarchy of streets. Promenades are not boulevards but important avenues with canopy and wider (20')sidewalks.  The Parks Director and Mayor Ives talked with excitement about street-side cafes, book stores, spilling over onto wider sidewalk promenades. (Thank you COVID for the later.)

Guy suggested improving the "green ring" along the Sammamish River by softening the eastern slope of the river with a more gradual grade to "get out of the ditch". He suggested building a bike/running trail on the west side to allow for more passive activities on the eastern slope. He thought Luke McRedmond Park had great potential. [He failed to point out King County has jurisdiction over the river corridor.]

Mayor Birney and Council, please zone for greater use of promenades, wider sidewalks and bike lanes, specifically in the Nelson Master Plan and SE Redmond Neighborhood (where new schools are planned.)  Thank you.  B. Yoder

READ MORE for the abridged Berger report and my opinion:

Monday, November 1, 2021

City Consults With Berger Partnership On Downtown Parks

Heron Rookery adjacent Leary Way

I was one of the few public attending the "Downtown Parks Open House" meeting on April 24 at the Old Redmond School House. (It was posted on the city website).

The mayor, councilmembers Vache, McCormick, and Jim Robinson (Parks Chair) were in attendance along with Sue Stewart, Park Board Chair and Gary D. Smith of the Trails Commission.

Parks Director, Craig Larson introduced a well-paid consultant, Guy Michaelson, from Berger Partnership in Seattle. (206-325-6877) to address the audience. Mr. Larsen showed a map depicting 6 downtown projects underway. Most of them were residential.

Guy spent most of the night evaluating our downtown parks, topography, and making suggestions for improvement and park development.

I posted the above photo of a Great Blue Heron rookery because the consultant informed us the 3-acre heron rookery (behind the Workshop Tavern) is 'sterile' and without nesting activity. If fact, Guy recommended planting new trees to improve the defunct rookery woodlands.

To be frank, I was quite shocked to learn of our rookery loss since the Great Blue Heron is by law our state protected "species of local importance". How could the city let this go? I think (and hope) we have one other rookery behind Safeway along Bear Creek. If we don't have another productive rookery then we have a problem of not protecting the most important species in our city. The Critical Area Ordinance applies here.

Besides the above rookery announcement, I found Guy's observation of the unique character of our "wooded hillsides" surrounding the city interesting. He thought they were an under appreciated city asset.

Guy emphasized the importance of "promenades" for connecting a hierarchy of streets. Promenades are not boulevards but important avenues with canopy and wider (20')sidewalks. Craig and Rosemarie both talked with excitement about street-side cafes, book stores, spilling over onto wider sidewalk promenades.

Guy suggested improving the "green ring" along the Sammamish River by softening the eastern slope of the river with a more gradual grade to "get out of the ditch". He suggested building a bike/running trail on the west side to allow for more passive activities on the eastern slope. He thought Luke McRedmond Park has greater potential.

He spent a lot of time talking about where he envisioned the heart of our downtown. He identifies our "heart" at the confluence of the sterile heron rookery, Bear Creek Parkway, and the Burlington Northern corridor; and the Haida House as the "spirit" of our downtown. Gary Smith (trails commissioner) disagreed, suggesting artist Dudley Carter's Haida House -- adjacent to the Leary bridge and Sammamish River -- is the "heart" of our downtown. The park will be used for storage of  materials  the King Council Sewer project. 

Guy felt our skateboard park has much potential to provide more to the community. I concur. Known as "Edge Park" , he suggesting a railing (to lean on) circling around the skateboard ramp-park. Pam and I drove by the Woodland H.S. today and we saw their "skateboard park". It's awesome and packed with a variety of activity stations and places to rest. Totally different from our modest park.

Guy's only complaint about Redmond is we don't have a "major destination". What do you think??
Well, I guess the Downtown Park is the answer.

Nov. 9 2007

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sustainable Redmond features speaker on "in-stream habitat health"

The Annual Sunstainable Redmond meeting last Monday was very informative. Gary Smith, Trout Unlimited salmon advocate, WaterTender, and city parks commissioner reported on factors affecting and indicating in-stream habitat health.  His talk focused on the presence of salmon, birds and benthic invertebrates (bugs) as being environmental indicators.  Gary reported counts of juvenile Coho and Chinook salmon have decreased for two consecutive years and the spawning Chinook salmon in Bear and Cottage Creeks, combined, have decreased for three consecutive years.  He referenced to Micheal Hobb's research demonstrating river health clearly matters to birds. (Mr. Hobb's "Marymoor Park Sightings blog" is HERE.)  

Below, are Mr. Hobb's comments about the relationship between the behavior of birds and in-stream habitat health:
"River health clearly matters to birds.  The most obvious species that is effected by polluted water around here is the American Dipper, as they feed pretty much entirely on benthic invertebrates.  If dippers are breeding on a stream, you know the water is full of benthic invertebrates, and the water is clean.  Dippers poke around the rocks looking for things like stonefly larvae.  They are the coolest birds, being ordinary songbirds (dippers are closely related to wrens), that have learned how to swim and dive.  Read More >>

Monday, December 17, 2007

video clip of flooding onto SR520 floodplain


Click HERE to view a video clip of flooding along the north bank of Bear Creek -- only 20 feet from the SR520 freeway in Redmond, WA.  - Video contributed by Gary Smith, past Trails commissioner. The clip was videoed from Gary's car driving west on SR520 towards West Lake Sammamish Blvd. About a minute long. 

12/13/2007

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Dog Parks In Redmond

As Redmond grows so does our need for dog parks.  The downtown park (?) and Marymoor park can't do it all. 🐕,  Off leash "Pop Up Dog Parks" are a solution many cities are employing.  Below, is an orange City of Kirkland pop up.  Kirkland has three of them and all has gone so well that one will be permanent. You can't see it in this picture but there's also a smaller park for the little guys.  

Temporary pop up in a Kirkland park / B. Yoder

Potential dog park area near Soul Food / B. Yoder

During "Redmond Lights" Gary Smith, Parks Commision Chair, pointed out this green patch of land.  He thought it had potential for a dog park. For orientation, the land is west of Discover Yoga; it's the structure you're looking at. And it's behind Soul Food.  There may not be enough acreage for large and small dogs, but small dogs could romp. The owner of the land is unkown.   

Smith Woods Park in northern Redmond is a 10 acre, mostly grassy place.  It might be a perfect location for those that don't want to drive all the way to Marymoor Park and to serve Redmondites in general. Can you think of other locations?  

--Bob Yoder, 8/28/2021

Friday, January 7, 2022

Bear Creek and the Stewards Who Saved a Salmon Stream


Redmond Historical Society.

Redmond Historical Society: "Bear Creek a small stream east of Seattle – some Redmond residents don’t even know it runs through town ending at the Sammamish River between Marymoor Park and Redmond Town Center -- but Bear Creek is notable for its historically strong runs of wild salmon. In the past half-century those runs have declined, especially that of the threatened Puget Sound Chinook. That trend is sadly common in Northwest waterways, but in this case the decline has been slowed by local efforts to support the fish."

Gary Smith, a standout Redmond volunteer, Parks Commission Chair, Water Tender Board member and WRIA 8, compiled a research project and supporting materials interviewing the following stewards of Bear Creek, most of them Water Tenders:

Interview with Shirley Doolittle-Egerdahl  -- Water Tender President & Board member with long family history of life at  Paradise Lake, the headwaters of Bear Creek.  

Interview with Terry Lavender, *Founder of Water Tenders and Board Chair. Terry describes her long experience on Bear Creek working with citizen groups and county officials to preserve and rehabilitate property on and around the creek.

Interview with Mayor John Marchione.

Interview with Dick Schaetzel, past President of Water Tenders (1991.)  Very active. Dick's home is 30 feet from Bear Creek. 

Interview with Tom Murdock, Executive Director of "Adopt A Stream."  

Ray Heller, King County Basin Steward for Bear Creek, 91-93

Written Q&A with Roger Dane C.O.R. Public Works.

Many thanks to the Redmond Historical Society for initiating and publishing "Bear Creek and the Stewards Who Saved a Salmon Stream," 1980 - 2020  (7/13/2021)

-- Bob Yoder, 1/7/2022

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

A Walk Down Memory Lane


Several years ago I walked down "memory lane," (77960-7990 170th Ave. NE) coined Adair Street by the Redmond Historical Society. Ms. Adair was a land doner. I took this video of  three cottages circa 1930's and a 97 year-old craftsman home (owned by real estate appraiser Alan Pope. Mr. Pope is a native of Redmond; he graduated from Lake Washington High.)  The homes were demolished last month to build eighteen, 3BR "Penny Lane" townhomes.  The development is only a five minute walk to Anderson Park.  Sad to see these vintage homes go but the site is perfect for the city's needs of density and family housing equity.  


 18 "family" luxury townhomes, "Penny Lane 2 & 3" under construction

An extensive "cultural resource assessment" was conducted to assess: environmental, archaeological, ethnographic, and historical culture. -- Special thanks to Gary Smith for finding and sharing the assessment.

-- Bob Yoder, 4/13/2021
Photo and Video, Yoder

Friday, December 13, 2019

Redmond Tree Canopy

Image result for Redmond tree canopy pictures
Evans Creek Trail / Bob Yoder
Tree Canopy in Redmond is very important to our government officials and it's residents. In fact, every year for the past many years our Council and mayor have had multiple Study Sessions on our trees.  

Why is tree canopy so important?  Redmond’s character and main attraction for many community members is its trees, wooded areas, and urban forests. The benefits of trees and urban forests include reduced stormwater runoff, improved water and air quality, attractive communities, increased property values, greenhouse gas reduction, habitat for native wildlife,and improved quality of life, including finding serenity while hiking through Redmond's many wooded trails. 

Currently there are 4,062 acres of tree canopy within Redmond. I'm not sure if this includes our street trees and the Redmond Preserve. (Comments?) Overall, tree canopy coverage is declining at a rate of 12 to 13 acres per year as vacant and underutilized parcels continue to develop or redevelop. During the 2019 Redmond Lights festival I ran into Gary Smith, a parks and trails commissioner. He said a large development in North Redmond involved removing a significant number of trees; he thinks and hopes the trees will be replaced in the Keller Farm Mitigation Bank

The City of Redmond is currently at 38.1% tree canopy (as of 2017); the City is working hard to see this grow and has adopted a goal of 40% tree canopy by 2050.  The 2050 goal represents a 200-acre increase in canopy from where we are today. The City currently restores and plants approximately two acres of trees and shrubs annually and is planting four acres of trees in 2019 . Green Redmond recruits citizen volunteers to plant many of these trees.

John Reinke, a Redmond photojournalist, has taken many pictures of birds and wildlife in our woodland habitat. I sent him an outstanding article WITH great pictures titled "Super Trees."  It's a must see.  (For more on John's tree experiences "Read More"

Monday, January 14, 2019

Idylwood Park restoration of tree removal areas

Image result for idylwood Park photos
Gary Smith teaching restoration at Idylwood Park /
Credit Forterra
In August 2017, two separate large cottonwood tree limb failures occurred at Idylwood Park. The City hired a contractor to remove fourteen hazardous cottonwood trees in October 2018.  Two remaining hazardous trees have been pruned or are currently being evaluated.

Restoration Plantings: Restoration of the Idylwood Park tree removal areas will occur February – March 2019. A community volunteer replanting event will tentatively take place on Saturday, February 9. Volunteers and City staff will plant trees, shrubs, groundcovers...

Source:  Council business meeting, 1/15 memo

Bob Yoder



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Water Tenders is resurrected

Key Club members help to restore a Bear Creek tributary
Water Tenders is a group of people who care about the wetlands and streams in the Bear Creek area and King county.

The torch of Water Tenders (WT) leadership was passed from President Eric Soshea to Susan Wilkins at the WT Annual Meeting last week.  Many of the of the original tenders were present, including a relative of the founder. Leader Terry Lavender and past president Dick Schaetzel were out of town. Gary Smith was present. Debbie Aftebro from Novelty Hill had never attended a WT meeting yet she collects and measures rainwater for Guy Baltzelle's program. She wanted to meet Guy but unfortunately he wasn't at the meeting.  Shirley Doolittle-Egerdahl was up front with Susan and Eric. Shirley was once President and is now the Treasurer, replacing John Reinke,who replaced Dick S.  One of the new board members, Heather Poe was president and secretary for WT in the Early 2000 - 2005 era (before Susan became a member.) Shirley Doolittle-Egerdahl was also once a president along with five others. 

In her presentation, (video) Susan held up a map of the entire Bear Creek watershed. She was re-directing and expanding our attention to the entire Bear Creek watershed.  She states:


Thursday, March 2, 2017

UPDATED: Bear Creek advocates hold meeting


Credit/ Water Tender John Reinke 
Water Tenders is a group of people who care about the wetlands and streams in the Bear Creek area and King county.

The torch of Water Tenders (WT) leadership was passed from President Eric Soshea to Susan Wilkins at the WT Annual Meeting last week.  Many of the of the original tenders were present, including a relative of the founder. Leader Terry Lavender and past president Dick Schaetzel were out of town. Gary Smith was present. Debbie Aftebro from Novelty Hill had never attended a WT meeting yet she collects and measures rainwater for Guy Baltzelle's program. She wanted to meet Guy but unfortunately he wasn't at the meeting.  Shirley Doolittle-Egerdahl was up front with Susan and Eric. Shirley was once President and is now the Treasurer, replacing John Reinke,who replaced Dick S.  One of the new board members, Heather Poe was president and secretary for WT in the Early 2000 - 2005 era (before Susan became a member.) Shirley Doolittle-Egerdahl was also once a president along with five others. 

In her presentation, (video) Susan held up a map of the entire Bear Creek watershed. She was re-directing and expanding our attention to the entire Bear Creek watershed.  She states:

"The Bear Creek Basin is an exceptionally natural and healthy environment for our native salmon runs given that it is so close to a major metropolitan area.  We want to direct more community involvement into observing the stream habitat and collecting year-round data (such as rainfall, water temperature, stream flow) across the whole Bear Creek Basin.  We also want to carefully monitor land use planning by the local government jurisdictions to encourage preservation and protection of our land and water resources."
Five members who volunteered for the new Board met with Susan after the meeting.  The first order of business was to select officers.  Susan is the President, Mark Reynolds is the V.P. (he told a touching "avatar" story about the value of engaging children.)  Mark is a software engineer for Nordstrom and a "take charge" kind of guy.  He is working on a new website and very motivated for WT to make a difference for kids.  Me too.

Youth have been involved in WT over the years:

My daughter, Lexie Conley, was once a Youth Board member -- the first and last.  She wrote an article on the history of environmentalism that was published in the WT's 25th Anniversary Issue of the newsletter.  Terry recruited her to lead the Green Team in a Derby Day parade...and work the booth. Lexie recruited her Key Club members to help restore a forest in what is now the Redmond Bike Park site.  Notably, Dick S. attended that.  The Key Club also spent a day restoring a northern Bear Creek tributary -- an ongoing WT project.

Susan Wilkins actively engaged her children in the environment.  Her daughter was a docent for the annual WT salmon "SEEson" event.  In 2007 her children surveyed the Camwest Perrigo Heights preliminary plat's northern forest boundary ...in preparation for the citizen/council/mayor/Eric Campbell's woodland march to the proposed Steep Slope sewer location.

Colorful salmon cut-outs were made for children. (don't have the details.)  Kiosks were built to educate children and adults. Exhibits were held at REI.  Terry Lavender worked at the Redmond Medical Center from where the Derby Day Children's Parade started every year. She organized the kids and I think gave them a short education on salmon before they took off on their bikes. 
### 

A 5-minute YouTube of Susan Willkin's presentation at the Annual Meeting:  https://youtu.be/_SfMBTinhqg

A slide show of my daughter and her Key Club/ Bio-Chem classmates restoring the Bear Creek tributary.  

Friday, June 17, 2016

Report on the Kokanee Salmon of Lake Sammamish

By Gary Smith
City of Redmond Parks and Trails Commissioner
Water Tender

"Several years ago I reported on the declining number of Kokanee in Lake Sammamish (see the WaterTender Newsletter of Fall/Winter 2009).  It was a familiar story which I called “a dire situation” on waterways near modern developments that increase pollution, sediment buildup (siltation?), flash storm-runoff, and occasionally explosive algae growth.  Kokanee are dying early in increasing numbers, threatening the entire population.

Even though the US Fish and Wildlife Service finally in 2007 (?) declined to list the fish as endangered, local groups went ahead with restoration projects, and those grassroots efforts have shown positive effects.  Returns have been up and down – no surprise for salmon-watchers -- but nothing as perilously low as 2008 when fewer than 100 Kokanee spawned, according to King County spotters.  And a couple striking new developments in the story will bring this update to a more optimistic conclusion. First, a couple basics:

·        Kokanee are the same species as sockeye salmon:  Oncorhynchus nerka (Also: Kickininee, land-locked sockeye; little redfish).
·         Unlike other salmonids, Kokanee complete their entire life cycle in fresh water, maturing in the lake and migrating into tributaries where they spawn and produce offspring imprinted with that natal water.
·         Lake Sammamish has 3 main tributaries with viable Kokanee runs:  Lewis, Ebright, and Laughing Jacobs Creeks (Issaquah Creek once had the largest migration, but it declined over the period of the state hatchery’s operation and was declared extirpated in 2002).  Read More >>

·        Over the past 7 years, each of these tributary runs has been supplemented with hatchery fry raised in its respective natal water and released in springtime (this spring, for the first time Issaquah Creek will receive transplants from other streams raised in at the Issaquah hatchery).  Several other creeks are also showing signs of life; for example, in the Redmond area Idylwood had several Kokanee this past spawning season, and I found a carcass on Bear a couple years ago (Dick Schaetzel and Ed Schein make similar claims).  These fish are probably strays because, to quote from a 2003 King County report:  “In the 1940s, the kokanee in Bear Creek were so prolific that they were considered to be the most important run of kokanee in the entire Lake Washington Basin . . . (but) by the early 1970s, the Bear Creek kokanee population was considered to be extinct” http://tinyurl.com/kokaneeupdate .
The supplementation plan was developed in 2007 by the Kokanee Work Group (KWG), which represents a myriad of government and non-government organizations, coordinated by a King County official.  The group is working to improve the health of this fish population so it becomes self-sustaining and would ultimately support fishing in the lake.  Over its 10-year history the KWG members have remained enthusiastic and have recently come together to sharpen the focus in two new public efforts: 
1.       In 2014, Sammamish Lake was named an Urban Wildlife Refuge, one of eight national programs designated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell made the announcement in spring of that year at the annual Kokanee fry release, and since then, the Kokanee Work Group and other organizations have been building a constituency to conserve fish and wildlife in the central Puget Sound watershed, centered around the Kokanee.  For more info see www.fws.gov/urban/partnerships.php .

2.      Trout Unlimited is establishing a new position, the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Restoration Project Manager.  Supported by the Kokanee Work Group, this person could greatly accelerate the pace of projects already identified by the KWG to improve fish passage and habitat and could also initiate more youth education programs, community outreach events and citizen-science activities.
The overall effort is still aimed at restoring the Kokanee to a self-sustaining population which will support a fishery, but therein lies the rub:  because yearly numbers fluctuate so greatly, it’s not clear what level is sustainable and specifically when it will be possible to take fish for human consumption, the primary goal of some groups including the tribes.  At first glance, the problem doesn’t seem so complicated, at least not compared to the other salmon species.  Since they don’t typically go to sea, the Kokanee population is contained in a closed system, and the variables affecting mortality are relatively few.  Yet, the numbers fluctuate in patterns that perplex fish biologists.  The science is too complex for this short article, but here is an example of the unpredictable numbers.  2012 was the first year when hatchery fish were expected to spawn, and numbers were indeed higher that year, but analysis showed that only 9% of them were hatchery fish.  And in-between, 2013 was another near-disaster for the population:  only 141 Kokanee returned to spawn in the 3 major tributaries, nearly equaling the worst year on record, 2007 (over half the spawners were hatchery fish).  Success is still not certain, and therefore the supplementation effort will continue until more answers are found.  See the timeline for a simplified look at the KWG strategy for Lake Sammamish Kokanee.

Among the steps I suggested in my newsletter article 7 years ago was one that now presents an opportunity for Watertenders:  “Encourage local officials to improve stormwater management.”  With or without our prodding, King County has embarked on a new multi-year project to study stormwater issues in our Bear Creek watershed.  Initial meetings have already set the groundwork for a Stakeholder Workshop and a Public Meeting this fall, aiming to complete a final watershed plan for submission to the Washington State Department of Ecology in 2018.  For details see www.kingcounty.gov/BearCreekPlan .

It is a fitting follow-on to the county’s ground-breaking work done over 25 years ago in the watershed, resulting in the Bear Creek Basin Plan which recommended regulations for storm water retention and detention, forest cover, buffers, etc.  Seems to me worthy of continued Watertender attention.

  • The following is not science-based; it’s just a story I’ll call “Chicken and the Egg:”                           So which came first, the Kokanee or the Sockeye:  As a typical glacial lake in the Pacific Northwest, Lake Sammamish is theorized to have become populated with Kokanee during the Ice Age when migrating sockeyes were trapped.  They flourished, and tribal accounts emphasize the importance of this “little red fish” as a food source, smaller than the other salmon but available year-round.  But 100 years ago things changed when the Ballard Locks were built.  It’s believed that during construction when the lake level was dropping and the southern outlet of Lake Washington was shut off and the Black River disappeared, other populations of salmon died out in Lake Sammamish.  And so today, you will often hear that the salmon in the Lake Washington system are all hatchery fish.  This is certainly debatable, and as some of you WaterTenders may remember, we heard a talk (?) attesting to the wild genes in the Bear Creek sockeye population.  Perhaps those modern sockeye had transformed from their landlocked cousins.  Kokanee have been known to occasionally migrate to the ocean and return, so it’s conceivable that the contemporary sockeye has ancient genes preserved through the landlocked period by its cousin, the Kokanee.  (That’s just my speculation and is based on imperfect knowledge of changes in streamflows over the centuries -- see this source for a more factual history of the local Kokanee:  http://tinyurl.com/kokaneehistory "

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The History of Bear Creek, Water Tender Newsletter

History of Bear Creek
By Gary Smith


Thousands of years ago, the first native people were drawn by salmon runs to the confluence of Bear Creek and the Sammamish Slough, where they established fishing sites.  When white settlers arrived in the valley in the 1860s and encountered only seasonal camps of Indians, the newcomers soon took over the land and water, greatly changing the natural habitat.  Salmon in particular were impacted as the Sammamish River and Bear Creek were channelized and as communities grew to cover large tracts of impermeable surface nearby, leaving only a small green space around the confluence.
Geography of lower Bear Creek  
As this 1897 map shows, Bear Creek flowed into the Sammamish south of the current confluence, which is shown by the light-blue line (visibility?) in this historical map of the downtown Redmond area:
Redmond GSPS map.jpg
Native American culture:  The first inhabitants of this area were probably Snoqualmie Indians (some claim that a band of the Duwamish tribe was here first).  Undoubtedly, many Indians followed the salmon from Puget Sound toward the Cascades, establishing summertime fishing camps along the waterways.  Despite arrowheads, mussel shell middens, and other evidence of seasonal food gathering in the Redmond area, however, there is no clear indication of any permanent Indian village near the confluence.  According to one local historian who did research at the Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, “Snoqualmie tribal elders tell me that a small plankhouse stood at that site (Slough House Park) for many years, making it a possible tollway for the use of the portage crossing.”  This Snoqualmie story, while unconfirmed, suggests that Indian activity was concentrated near the confluence.  
White settlers’ culture: Read More>>