Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 in Review: Elwha Dam Removal and the Fish Weir

As we reach the end of 2011, we find ourselves wondering how the year went by so quickly and thinking about some of the highlights. For our office, this year will definitely be remembered as the year that removal of two large dams on the Elwha River finally started. Since early September, much progress has been made in tearing down the dams. A time-lapse video of the dam demolition can be viewed at For more information on the events leading up to demolition and how our office has been involved, visit

Elwha Dam on December 23, 2011
Once the dams have been completely removed, it won't be long before anadromous fish will once again have access to the >70 miles of pristine aquatic habitat located upstream in Olympic National Park. We intend to document how quickly these salmon, steelhead, and bull trout populations rebound by counting them on their journey up the river in coming years. In late 2010, we added a post describing the weir structure being operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (in partnership with USGS, NOAA-Fisheries, Olympic National Park, the Lower Elwha Tribe, and our office). To date, this is our most frequently visited story since starting the blog.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Lake Sammamish Kokanee Return in Large Numbers

Kokanee salmon adult
Like an early holiday gift, kokanee salmon have been observed by the hundreds spawning in tributaries to Lake Sammamish during the month of November. Our partners at King County and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have been out counting the colorful red fish in Ebright, Lewis and Laughing Jacobs Creeks in order to keep track of their numbers and track the recovery of this native fish population. Click on this story and video as covered by King 5 News: 

As of November 28, our partners have counted 1575 kokanee along with 301 redds dug by the female kokanee in these three creeks. These large numbers are cause for celebration! In comparison, only 50 or so fish were estimated to have returned to the same creeks all of last fall. Click on this King County link for a video showing kokanee spawning in Laughing Jacobs Creek:
Collecting kokanee adults for hatchery broodstock
Our office, along with King County, have collected just over 200 of this year's kokanee adults from these three creeks in order to spawn them and rear their offspring within the safe confines of the Issaquah State Fish Hatchery. So far ,we have collected more than 50,000 eggs. We plan to keep on collecting 15% of the adults that return to the creeks during the coming weeks. In the spring, the fry will be released back into the same creeks where the adults were collected. 
Lake Sammamish kokanee hatchery fry
From there they will immediately swim downstream to Lake Sammamish and hopefully return to the creek as adults 3 to 5 years later. The current draft of the Conservation Supplementation Plan for Lake Sammamish Kokanee is available here: