August 2018 Newsletter
Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed
Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 8

It's Salmon SEEson Again!

The 12th annual Salmon SEEson program will run from late August through November, coordinating and promoting salmon viewing opportunities for the public around the watershed and broader region. This year, we will add three sites in the Snoqualmie/Skykomish Watershed, located on the Snoqualmie and Tolt Rivers near Carnation, and two more sites in the Green/Duwamish Watershed, located on Miller and Walker Creeks in Normandy Park. Another viewing site for Kokanee salmon will be added, on Laughing Jacobs Creek near Lake Sammamish State Park. The Saving Water Partnership continues to sponsor Salmon SEEson, and we also have support from King County, Duwamish Alive, the Green/Duwamish and Central Puget Sound Watershed (WRIA 9), and the Snoqualmie/Skykomish Watershed. Check out our Salmon SEEson website for more information on viewing locations!

Additional Funding Secured for Critical Ballard Locks Repairs

In June 2018, the Army Corps of Engineers received an additional $13.1 million in their Fiscal Year 2018 Work Plan to implement critical Ballard Locks repairs. The repair work being done is important for improving fish passage, and in particular, $11 million of the recent funding supports replacement of the large lock filling culvert valves and machinery, which is one of the most significant fish passage improvements that needs to be made. The filling culvert valves and machinery enable the Corps to open and close the large locks at variable speeds. When these are in good functional order, they can open the filling culverts more slowly, which keeps juvenile salmon, which aren't strong enough to withstand the strong pull from water entering the culverts to fill the lock, from being sucked into the culverts and damaged or killed by being scraped along the barnacle-encrusted culvert walls. The current, old valves and machinery only allow the lock to be opened or closed, without regulating the speed. WRIA 8 staff continue to work with the broad coalition of partners and the Corps Seattle District on the 2019 and 2020 priorities, associated funding requests, and advocacy strategy. KIRO 7 News featured the story and WRIA 8 has a Ballard Locks repairs factsheet as well.

Cedar River Riverbend Floodplain Restoration Project Ranks 3rd in Regional Draft List

King County's Riverbend Floodplain Restoration Project, supported by WRIA 8 with numerous grants over the past several years, was ranked 3rd of 13 in the draft Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Large Capital program ranked project list. A full list of the rankings can be found on Puget Sound Partnership's website. Puget Sound Partnership submitted this draft ranked list to the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) on August 15, for consideration of the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council Executive Committee and Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council at their September meetings, with a final ranked list due to RCO on November 7.

Updates on Orca Recovery Efforts

Puget Sound's resident orca population is in trouble. The individual orca known as J35, or Tahlequah, garnered worldwide attention as she carried her dead calf for 17 days in late July and early August, traveling over 1,000 miles. Orcas, along with other mammals, are known to carry deceased offspring in what scientists believe to be an expression of grief. Simultaneously, efforts have been underway in August to assist J50, a 3.5 year old orca suffering from malnutrition and a possible bacterial infection. NOAA is coordinating a first ever rescue effort for J50, working with the Lummi Nation, King County, and other partners to inject J50 with antibiotics and attempt to feed her live Chinook salmon.

Photo: Holly Fearnbach / NOAA

When orcas were first listed as endangered in 2005, they were believed to live mostly around Puget Sound, and therefore the "critical habitat" protected under the Endangered Species Act only includes waters in Puget Sound and Washington State. It was later learned that they spend up to 90% of their time outside of Puget Sound, traveling from San Francisco to Canada. The National Marine Fisheries Service stated it would extend the orca-habitat protections along Oregon and Northern California coasts by 2017, but still hasn't done so. Habitat protection is critical for limiting negative human impacts on whales, such as pesticide use and fishing, as orcas can absorb pesticides, flame retardants, and other chemicals into their fatty tissues. On August 16, the Center for Biological Diversity sued the federal government for failing to meet its obligation to protect the habitat of Southern Resident Killer Whales. For more information, see this Seattle Times column.

This New York Times article outlines the threats Southern Resident Killer Whales face, including lack of Chinook salmon, echolocation and communication interference from ship noise, potential spills from oil tankers, smaller gene pools and inbreeding as a result of theme park captures in the 1970s and 1980s, pollution from municipal and industrial waste, and disease transmission.

You can help!

Chinook Salmon are the primary food source of Southern Resident Killer Whales. Protecting salmon habitat in turn helps protect orcas. In Puget Sound, stormwater runoff is a major source of water pollution, negatively affecting salmon, orcas, and other marine and aquatic species. Luckily, there are actions you can take to help improve water quality and habitat conditions for orcas and the salmon they rely on:

Support funding for salmon habitat restoration
Salmon recovery plans in watersheds throughout Puget Sound identify priority habitat restoration projects, but the effort has been woefully underfunded. A few state grant programs provide key funding for project implementation. Consider contacting Governor Inslee and your state legislators to let them know you support fully funding the following programs in the 2019-2021 capital budget:

Provide feedback to the Orca Task Force and attend the August 28 meeting in Anacortes
The Orca Task Force is soliciting public comments online in advance of releasing their draft proposal on October 1. The draft proposed actions and discussion guides are available on the Task Force website, listed under the August 7 meeting. Puget Sound Institute summarized discussions from the August 7th meeting. The August 28 meeting of the Orca Task Force in Anacortes is open to the public and there will be opportunities for public comment at the meeting.

Fix your car leaks
Oil leaks are bad for your car and for fish. If your car is dripping oil on the road or in your driveway, the oil will eventually end up in Puget Sound. The Department of Ecology's Don't Drip and Drive campaign provides tips for how to diagnose a leak and what to ask your mechanic. You can also find free leak inspection locations.

Practice natural yard care
The chemicals in fertilizers and pesticides applied to yards eventually end up in Puget Sound, after they run off into nearby storm drains. Stormwater isn't cleaned before it enters the water, so it is important to limit the harmful chemicals you apply at home. Practicing natural yard care includes using chemicals sparingly; letting your lawn go brown in the summer; planting trees and native, drought-resistant plants; adding compost to improve soil quality and reduce runoff; picking up after your pet; and reducing impervious surfaces on your property. Rain gardens combine many of those benefits, capturing and filtering polluted runoff before it reaches the storm drains.

For shoreline property owners, green your shorelines
Bulkheads, docks, and hard shorelines have altered or eliminated much of the shallow-water habitat in Puget Sound area lakes and shorelines. Bulkheads also accelerate erosion and reduce beachfront aesthetics. Implementing a greener shoreline provides habitat for fish and other wildlife and increases access and safety for the property owner. Orcas compete for salmon with seals and sea lions, who like salmon, but will also eat forage fish, such as sand lance and smelt. Improving shoreline habitat also benefits forage fish, which could result in more salmon for orcas. Green Shorelines is a guide for Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish shoreline property owners and the Shoreline Stewardship Guidebook focuses on the Puget Sound nearshore.

Take your car to a car wash
Washing your car at home can also contribute to stormwater pollution. Detergent, automotive fluids, oil, and roadway chemicals washed off your car can end up in Puget Sound via storm drains. We recommend taking your car to a commercial car wash, where the water will often be reused before receiving treatment in the sewer system. If you wash your car at home, use soap sparingly, park on a permeable surface such as grass, and pour your soapy water down an inside sink instead of the storm drain.

Safely dispose of medicine
The Take Back Your Meds program identifies free drop off locations to safely dispose of unwanted medicine. Flushing medicine down the toilet or throwing it in the trash can lead to water pollution. As highlighted in the WRIA 8 June E-Newsletter, mussels in Puget Sound have tested positive for opioids, synthetic surfactants, antibiotics, antidepressants, antidiabetics, and chemotherapy agents.

Endangered Species Act Changes

On July 19, U.S. Fish & Wildlife and NOAA Fisheries proposed a set of changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), opening up a public comment period that extends through September 24, 2018. While the proposed changes appear to focus on future species listings under ESA, it is unclear how, if at all, the proposed changes would affect species currently already listed as threatened or endangered, such as Puget Sound Chinook salmon. There are concerns that the proposed changes could reduce or inhibit designating critical habitat areas for listed species and could jeopardize existing protections if a listed species was to change status from "threatened" to "endangered" or vice versa, or when an agency performs periodic status reviews of a listed species. WRIA 8 is tracking this issue to better understand how the proposed changes might impact Chinook salmon recovery. More information on the proposed changes can be found on U.S. Fish & Wildlife's website, with further context explained in this New York Times article.

Salmon in the City: Video tour about salmon at the Ballard Locks

Check out this short video, Salmon in the City, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on salmon at the Ballard Locks, featuring interviews with Cedar River Salmon Journey Naturalists, Army Corps of Engineers Park Rangers, Suquamish Tribe members, and Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists.

Trout Unlimited's 1st Annual Lake Sammamish Perch Derby

Trout Unlimited is sponsoring their 1st annual Lake Sammamish Perch Derby on Saturday, September 15, with all proceeds going to Lake Sammamish Kokanee restoration and outreach. Yellow perch are a predator of Kokanee salmon, which face possible extinction in Lake Sammamish. Prizes will be given in adult and youth divisions for longest fish, heaviest fish, and highest combined weight of catch. Register via Eventbrite. If you live near Lake Sammamish, please consider posting a few flyers to garner attention for the event.

Free PumpOut Service for Boats in Area Helps Keep Waterways Clean

The PumpOut.Me program is a state subsidized service that provides free pumpouts for boats in the Puget Sound Area. PumpOut.Me partners with non-profit organizations that use funding provided by the Clean Vessel Act grant program, saving boaters up to $50 per pumpout. Effective May 10, 2018, Puget Sound and certain adjoining was established as a No Discharge Zone (NDZ), where boats may not release sewage, whether treated or not. More information on pumpouts can be found at Washington State Parks and Pumpout Washington.

Government Accountability Office Report on Puget Sound Restoration

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed efforts to restore Puget Sound, surveying federal and state entities that had participated in restoration efforts and conducting discussion groups with tribal and local representatives. In their report, GAO recommends EPA work with the state-led Puget Sound Management Conference to ensure that measureable targets are developed for high priority indicators that currently lack such targets. For more information, see the GAO's report: Puget Sound Restoration: Additional Actions Could Improve Assessments of Progress.

Restoration Ecology Journal: 25 Most Influential Papers

The Society for Ecological Restoration has released a free downloadable edition of their journal, Restoration Ecology, with their 25 most influential papers in honor of the journal's 25th anniversary.

Trail Closure Notice - Sammamish River Trail in Woodinville

1.4 miles of the Sammamish River Trail in Woodinville between Woodin Creek Park and the Northshore Athletic Fields will be closed from August 27-31 for asphalt pavement repairs. The repairs may be delayed due to weather. Trail users should be prepared to expect traffic control and may be asked to dismount their bikes and walk.

The Sammamish River Trail will also be closed at NE 175th St from August 20-31. There will be a detour onto the sidewalk of NE 175th Street.

Grant Opportunities

Department of Ecology Combined Water Quality Program
The Department of Ecology has published their Water Quality Program Fiscal Year 2020 Funding Guidelines and is holding workshops to provide information about the state's Combined Water Quality Grant and Loan funding cycle. Applications will be accepted from August 13 — October 15, 2018. Workshops will be held on August 14, 15, 22, and 23. For more information, please visit Ecology's website on the funding cycle, funding guidelines, or financial assistance workshops.

Streamflow Restoration
In September 2018, the Department of Ecology will begin accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2019 Streamflow Restoration Grants. This opportunity emerged from the 2018 Streamflow Restoration Act (which was passed in response to the Hirst water rights decision), and $20 million will be available for new projects in this initial solicitation. The application deadline is expected to be October 31, 2018, with funding decisions made by the end of the year.

Projects that acquire water rights, enhance water storage, or promote water conservation and efficiency in a way that provides permanent streamflow benefits are considered high priority. Riparian and stream habitat improvements without direct streamflow benefits are eligible, but they are a lower priority. A variety of habitat project types are considered eligible, including channel enhancements, riparian restoration, land acquisition, levee modification and floodplain reconnection, and fish passage improvements. For more information, refer to Ecology's Interim Funding Guidelines.

Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment
The Rose Foundation is accepting proposals for the Puget Sound Stewardship & Mitigation Fund for projects that are designed to improve (or prevent degradation of) the water quality of Puget Sound and its watershed. The application deadline is September 14, 2018. For more information, please visit Rose Foundation's website.

Salmon in the news:

Last chance to save Lake Washington sockeye fisheries?
A WDFW model shows Lake Washington sockeye runs could peter out in 20 years if no action is taken to reverse their decline. The Lake Washington sockeye season is popular and provides a local economic jolt, but the last open season was in 2006. Scientists speculate that warm waters in the ship canal for returning adults, predation of juvenile salmon by native and nonnative fish species in Lake Washington, and light pollution in the lake are some of the major challenges to long-term sockeye survival.

Railroad bridge would help fish habitat — but at a high cost
The Snohomish County-sponsored Meadowdale Beach Park and Estuary Restoration Project, which received WRIA 8 grant funding for preliminary design in 2016 and is recommended to receive WRIA 8 grant funding in 2018 for construction, aims to create a more free-flowing estuary just north of Edmonds. The project involves working with BNSF Railway to build a new five-span railroad bridge, opening up Lund's Gulch Creek to its Puget Sound estuary, creating habitat for juvenile salmon.

Fish Will Start Losing Sense of Smell as Carbon Dioxide Levels Rise, Study Finds
A recent study on European juvenile sea bass warns that fish will start losing their ability to detect different smells by the end of the century if atmospheric carbon dioxide levels keep rising. When carbon dioxide is dissolved in ocean water, it turns to carbonic acid, increasing the acidity of the ocean. When exposed to carbon dioxide amounts predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to be in seawater by the year 2100, the juvenile sea bass had to be about 42 percent closer to an odor source to detect it. This has implications for feeding, predation, and reproduction and scientists can only speculate on possible species adaptations.

How much of a burden can we be to Union Bay before the strain is too much?
"Union bay hosts the best thriving wetland habitat in this city, one of the few such gems remaining in the urban centers of the world, landscapes that are transcendent enough to remind us of our place in nature." This Pacific NW Magazine article details the natural history of Union Bay, from the replumbing of the Montlake Cut and ship canal in 1917, swampland turned into a 40-year landfill, the building and rebuilding of the Evergreen Point floating bridge, and the impacts on wildlife throughout.

Audit finds 70 percent of B.C. fish-processing plants do not comply with environmental regulations
A recent audit of 30 British Columbia fish-processing plants found that more than 70% of plants are out of compliance with environmental regulations. The audit indicated that typical undiluted effluent is "frequently acutely lethal to fish." The audit was sparked by a viral video of a bloody plume spewing into the Salish Sea from a plant that processes farmed salmon, which the plant website declared was disinfected and causes no harm to fish. Fish farms in B.C. are on month-to-month leases until 2022, when all fish farms must receive consent from First Nations to operate and demonstrate their operations do not harm wild salmon.

Chinook salmon (also known as king salmon) are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In WRIA 8, citizens, scientists, businesses, environmental and community organizations, and local, state and federal governments are cooperating on protection and restoration projects and have developed a science-based plan to conserve salmon today and for future generations. Funding for the salmon conservation plan is provided by 28 local governments in the watershed. For more information visit our website at

If you would like to submit an item for inclusion in the next WRIA 8 e-newsletter, please email