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WRIA 9 Salmon Habitat News

Green/Duwamish and Central Puget Sound Watershed

From Your WRIA 9 Watershed Coordination Services Team

WRIA 9 Salmon Habitat Recovery Website: http://dnr.metrokc.gov/Wrias/9/index.htm

January 9, 2002

Salmon (and Water) in the Watershed

It’s a pretty quiet time for salmonids in the watershed.  Through their egg cases, they breathe in, they breathe out.  They grow.  Eye spots are evident now.  With plenty of cold water, there is little concern eggs will dry out.

Recycling: The Salmonid Way

An effort by Mid-Puget Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group (MSFEG) helped put salmon carcasses throughout the Green/Duwamish watershed.  In October, 2,090 chinook carcasses weighing almost 15 tons were placed throughout the Middle Green River watershed.  The carcasses came from the Green River Hatchery on Soos Creek.  MSFEG staff coordinated the work of volunteers from Trout Unlimited and the local community.  Nutrients from decomposing carcasses feed the insects that juvenile salmon feed on.  The young fish also feed directly on the carcasses.  This is an on-going program so to sign up to volunteer for 2002, contact MSFEG at 206-529-9467 or http://www.midsoundfisheries.org/.

Drought Down the Drain

The Green/Duwamish River basin water supply is in good shape this water year.  As of January 9, precipitation was 115% of average and the snowpack was 103% of average, containing 70,000 acre feet of water.  We should enjoy an abundant water supply through the winter and spring months.  Whereas the Corps started the annual spring refill of Howard Hanson Dam last water year in February due to the drought conditions, the Corps expects to delay the refill as long the fish agencies request next spring.

Many Hatchery Returns

Preliminary estimates from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife indicate that 12,200 chinook returned to Soos Creek last fall.  Of these, 3,600 were allowed past the weir at the hatchery to spawn naturally in Soos Creek.  Just over 7,000 were spawned at the hatchery.  Another 1,600 died before spawning.  

Coho returning to Soos Creek totaled 41,300.  The hatchery intended to allow 6,000 coho past the weir to spawn upstream.  However, nature intervened with heavy rains.  Subsequent flooding allowed another 18,300 fish to get past the weir!  WDFW had reports of fish spawning in creeks that had not seen salmon in decades.  2,400 were spawned.  Another 13,700 fish were shipped to other hatcheries and about 800 died before spawning.  While it’s too soon to say what the large number of naturally-spawning fish will mean for the coho that will hatch this spring, the streams did receive a big pulse

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