September 30, 2002
In celebration of the salmon homecoming
By Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Writer
Kids and adults will have opportunities this fall to enjoy, and participate in, events related to the annual salmon homecoming. "Catch a glimpse of spawning salmon this fall. It's an amazing experience," says Charlotte Spang, Communications Specialist for the Dept. of Natural Resources and Parks. In cooperation with the Cities of Woodinville and Bothell, King County will sponsor a number of events encouraging public involvement. "The purpose of these events is to celebrate the return of the salmon, and to provide people with hands-on opportunity to see salmon and help protect them," says Spang.
A planting event, called Sammamish Releaf, restores salmon habitat along the Sammamish River through a community effort. Volunteers plant native plants, such as Bigleaf maple, Douglas fir, Western red cedar, Oregon grape, huckleberry and snowberry. Woodinville's 2002 Releaf event will be held at Woodin Park (just south of Wilmot) on Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Bothell's will take place at Blyth Park on Oct. 12, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Debra Crawford, City of Woodinville Planning Technician, explains how trees help salmon to thrive, "The trees [when full grown] will provide shade to cool the water," she says, adding that salmon can't survive in warm water temperatures. She points to the trees and shrubs planted in past Sammamish Releaf events that now flourish, stating, "You can see how beautiful the banks are at Wilmot." The kid-friendly Releaf event welcomes all ages, although an adult must accompany children under 16. Says Crawford, "The kids pitch in with their parents and dig holes, plant trees, haul dirt and spread bark. It's pretty easy. The site is prepped before planting happens." The first sighting of the salmon can prompt volunteers to reflect on their role as good stewards of the earth and Crawford notes, "A lot of times you'll be able to see the salmon coming up the river and hear them splashing. It reminds the volunteers, 'This is why I'm doing this.'"
Salmon Watchers, volunteers who track spawning salmon at assigned sites, also play an important role in protecting salmon. Though too late for sign-ups this year, many kids and their parents join the program in a joint family project of community service. They act as the 'eyes and ears' in the watersheds and notify King County officials of anything that goes awry in neighborhood creeks. This year's volunteers will meet with a biologist for a field training session in Woodinville on the bridge at 145th, Oct. 6th, 9 am to 12 pm.
But kids don't have to wait to join Salmon Watchers to see the salmon. Crawford says that many sites offer views of salmon that will fascinate onlookers. She cites one in particular. "The confluence of Little Bear Creek and the Sammamish River at Wilmot Park [is a popular site], " she says. "Anywhere along the Sammamish River Trail. The salmon go in runs. Sometimes you can see them jumping everywhere." Classic Nursery and Landscape on Avondale Road touts its own popular viewing site and invites kids, moms, and dads-everyone—to travel the nature trail leading to Bear Creek behind the nursery. "People can come to the nursery anytime during open hours to walk the trail and view the salmon," says Operations Manager Juliette Smith. The nursery will have plenty of viewing time, among many other kid-oriented fun activities, at their Harvest Festival on Oct. 19th, 12 pm to 5 pm.
Further south, King County's Dept. of Natural Resources and Parks will host 'Cedar River Salmon Journey 2002' tours, Oct. 19th, 26th, 27th and Nov. 2nd, 3rd, and 9th at 11 am to 4 pm. Kids and adults will watch spawning salmon along sites at the Cedar River and listen to naturalists discuss the salmon's journey, life cycle and ways to protect them. To learn more about the tours, call (206) 205-3888.
For further information about the Woodinville Releaf or to get involved, contact John Markuson at (425) 489-2700, Ext. 2230. For details about the Bothell Releaf, contact Jon Morrow at (425) 486-2768.