Northwest NEWS

June 5, 2000

Local News

Meet, greet, and save the salmon


City Councilmember Barbara Solberg (l.) and Deborah Knight, assistant to the city manager and Salmon Task Force staff member, stand at Wilmot Park by the sculpture "Migration" by Bruce Holmes.
Photo by Andrew Solberg.

by Bronwyn Wilson, senior staff reporter

   City Councilmember Barbara Solberg has a natural interest in fish and their recovery. Growing up in Monroe, Washington, Solberg remembers the loggers in the area and how they loved to fish when logging slowed down in the winter.

   "I just grew up with fishing being a way of life," she said. "Fish was an integral part of our lives."

   When the Puget Sound Chinook salmon was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Solberg took special interest and became Chair of the City's Salmon Task Force.

   In order to discuss ways the community can help save the salmon, and to answer questions, Solberg will sponsor a Meet & Greet session on June 14 at Wilmot Park, 1-3 p.m. Deborah Knight, who is lead staff person for the task force and assistant to the City Manager, along with City Manager Pete Rose, will also be on hand to talk over the importance of salmon.

   Though not confirmed at this writing, it is expected that Bert the Salmon will attend, decked out in full salmon costume. Displays and handouts will also be available.

   "Our concern and interest is in educating the public to the problem that salmon are declining in numbers very drastically," Councilmember Solberg said.

   In response to the regional need for protection and enhancement of salmon habitat, the Salmon Task Force was established by the City of Woodinville, along with members from the city council's Planning Commission, Parks Board, Tree Board, and City Staff. A salmon recovery plan evolved from the Salmon Task Force.

   The plan, called Resolution No. 167, recognizes key actions the Woodinville City Council can take to protect salmon habitats. One of those actions is public outreach and education. As the salmon spawning season approaches, Solberg and Knight hope to get the word out to the public.

   According to Deborah Knight, there are things that can be done in a person's own backyard to help with salmon preservation. "We want to act locally and think globally," Knight said.

   As an example, she cited a cup of water poured out on the lawn and explained that from there it drains to Little Bear Creek and the Sammamish River, both of which are salmon bearing. Woodin Creek, though not salmon bearing, is also affected, because what is put into the creek drains into areas where salmon live.

   Some of the ways Knight suggested that will help save the salmon include: avoid walking in streams and creeks when salmon spawn, as eggs could be stepped on and damaged; fence off streams from pets, as their waste can cause a chemical imbalance in pH levels and kill fish; use limited amounts of pesticides and weed killers, as they are harmful to fish; wash cars at a commercial car wash facility, or wash the car on the lawn, allowing soapy water to sink into the soil, rather than into a storm drain. All soaps are toxic to fish and soapy run-off could flow directly to a storm drain and wind up eventually in Little Bear Creek, Cottage Lake, or the Sammamish River.

   In addition, Knight stressed that salmon not only need clean water to live, but also cold water to live. This is why the cities of Woodinville, Bothell, and Redmond have joined ranks in a plan to place trees along the the Sammamish River's banks in October. The trees along the river will provide the shade needed in keeping the water's temperature cool.

   The Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 under President Nixon and was envisioned by the Act's framers to protect species believed to be on the brink of extinction. The National Marine Fisheries Service listed Puget Sound Chinook Salmon as threatened under the ESA in March 1999.

   Remembering when salmon were plentiful, Councilmember Solberg works to make that a reality again. "We want to make it a reality for our grandchildren," Solberg said.