June 2019 Newsletter
Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed
Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 8

WRIA 8 Meadowdale Beach Park Project Receives $3.5M Rail Grant

With the support of Senator Cantwell, Snohomish County won a $3.5 million grant to contribute to the Meadowdale Beach Park and Estuary Restoration Project. The project involves replacing a portion of an existing railroad embankment and an undersized culvert with a new railroad bridge, which will allow for better beach access, improved salmon passage, and restoration of a 1.3 acre estuary for critical fish habitat. WRIA 8 has supported this project with over $1 million in grant funds, the most recent being a $800,000 grant via the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) program in 2018.

Do You Know an #OrcaHero?

#OrcaHeroes help keep our waters and Puget Sound clean and orcas healthy. Every action adds up — cleaning pollution that comes from our homes, neighborhoods and businesses. Everyday heroes help our habitat by avoiding pesticides, removing invasive plants, planting native plants, conserving water, fixing car leaks, picking up dog poop, installing rain gardens, and more! Share your #OrcaHero on social media and tag @PugetSoundStartsHere.

Engineering with Nature Film Premiered at Seattle International Film Festival

Engineering With Nature — An Ode to Water, Wood, and Stone, a film by Leaping Frogs Films and featured at SIFF this year, highlights a City of Seattle restoration project on Thornton Creek, in NE Seattle, to reduce flooding and improve salmon habitat. Watch the trailer on Vimeo.

A Day in the Life — Stream Sampling in WRIA 8

Follow along in a day in the life of Stephanie Hess, lead field scientist for King County's Routine Stream and River Monitoring Program, as she collects water quality samples from 13 streams in the Lake Washington and Sammamish River watersheds.

Photo: Sean McDonald, WSG

Working Together to Keep Invasive Crab Species at Bay in the Salish Sea

As shown in this story map, volunteers, tribes, and federal and state agencies are working together to stop an invasion of the European green crab in Puget Sound. These groups are actively surveying local sites and trapping and removing any green crabs they find. European green crabs pose a risk to inland habitats and native ecosystems, as they compete with and prey on native species and cause physical damage to sensitive habitats, such as eelgrass beds and salt marshes.

Orca Update

Photo: John Forde and Jennifer Steven
A new calf has been born to the Southern Resident orca J pod, marking the second Southern Resident birth in 2019, and since 2016. L124, born earlier this year, is still alive. Only about 50% of orca calves survive their first year. Meanwhile, scientists are watching J17, a matriarch of the J pod, who looks to be more emaciated than last fall.

In the latest segment of Seattle Times' coverage of the Southern Residents, reporter Lynda Mapes details the cacophony of sounds that orcas must contend with while trying to hunt prey and communicate with each other. Container ships, oil tankers, ferries, and whale watching boats all generate loud sustained noise as they travel through the water. Navy sonar creates piercing sounds that send orcas fleeing. Scientists are studying whether ships slowing down reduces the noise impact on orcas and state and federal policymakers are considering new restrictions on boat traffic.

Canada recently adopted measures to reduce commercial and recreational fishing, reduce vessel noise and disturbance, and create new sanctuaries for the endangered orcas that are closed to vessel traffic during peak resident season. Washington is also in the process of developing new regulations of whale watching and analyzing the impacts of dam removal on the Lower Snake River. While not funded in the state budget, the Governor's Orca Task Force is expected to continue operating using other funds.

Funding opportunities

King Conservation District Seattle Community Partnership Grant
King Conservation District (KCD)'s Seattle Community Partnership Grant Program is accepting applications for natural resource improvement projects that are led by or are in deep partnership with communities most impacted by environmental injustice and system racism. Projects must be focused on stormwater management, healthy soil, urban forestry, sustainable food systems, or shoreline, creek, or wetland protection/restoration. Letters of Intent must be submitted by July 15 and more information can be found on KCD's website.

Public Works Board — Construction, Pre-Construction and Emergency Loans
The Washington State Public Works Board (PWB) is accepting applications for construction, pre-construction, and emergency construction loans. Eligible infrastructure systems include domestic water, roads/streets, bridges, sanitary sewer, solid waste/recycling, and stormwater. Applications are due July 12 and more information can be found on the PWB website.

Job Opportunities

Environmental Scientist III — King County
King County Water and Land Resources Division is looking for an Environmental Scientist III. This position is located within the Ecological Restoration and Engineering Services Unit (ERES) and will focus on the development and implementation of habitat restoration projects, especially restoration projects identified in salmon recovery plans for the region. The position will be part of a team of engineers, ecologists and other scientists to support the development, implementation and monitoring of projects and programs identified through the division's capital projects planning processes. Many projects are large, complex, multi-year and multi-objective river restoration projects requiring a thorough understanding of the riverine environment, riverine processes and floodplain management.

Workshops and Conferences

Beautify & Care for Your Streamside Property — online, monthly
King Conservation District (KCD) is offering a free one hour online webinar on how to beautify and care for your streamside property. Learn how to minimize pollution runoff, control invasive weeds, utilize native plants, and add value and beauty to your yard. The webinars are offered monthly this summer and more information can be found on KCD's Eventbrite page.

Where the Water Begins Workshop — Multiple dates/locations
King Conservation District (KCD) is offering a free workshop and beach walk for property owners along marine shorelines of King County. The workshop will provide an opportunity to learn how to manage eroding beach or bluff property using vegetation to stabilize slopes. Register for the Vashon (July 13) or Discovery Park (July 22) workshops on Eventbrite.

Salmon in the news

Photo: Lorraine Day

Commentary: Inspirational conference puts focus on saving Puget Sound, its salmon and orcas
Edmonds Councilmember and WRIA 8 Representative, Diane Buckshnis, reflects on her invigorating trip to DC for "Puget Sound Day on the Hill" this past May. Councilmember Buckshnis met with several legislators to advocate for salmon recovery funding in the Puget Sound area.

Salmon merging onto new 'highway' in Seattle, complete with rest stops and restaurant
Seattle's new seawall, designed to provide refuge habitat to juvenile salmon as they head out to Puget Sound seems to be successfully attracting fish since its completion in 2017. Researchers saw an estimated 10,000 juvenile salmon near the seawall in one day when surveying in May 2018.

Research charts tiny zooplankton's large impact on ocean health
University of Washington researchers are studying the response of zooplankton in Puget Sound to changing environmental conditions to predict larger ecosystem trends. Zooplankton are near the bottom of the food chain, and are sought out by salmon and other marine life.

Saving our salmon: Searching for answers in the depths of Puget Sound
King County Environmental Laboratory is also sampling for zooplankton as part of their bimonthly marine surveys, to investigate all possible causes of Chinook salmon decline.

Human drugs are polluting the water — and animals are swimming in it
A platypus living in a contaminated stream in Melbourne is likely to ingest more than half a recommended adult dose of antidepressants every day. Toxicologists have modeled the effect of various pharmaceuticals on marine life and are seeing significant impacts. For example, "Atlantic salmon smolts exposed to benzodiazepines—medications, such as Valium and Xanax, that are frequently used to treat anxiety—migrate nearly twice as quickly as their unmedicated counterparts. Recklessly so, for the juvenile fish are likely to arrive at the sea in an underdeveloped state and before seasonal conditions are favorable."

Salmon get a major athletic boost via a single enzyme
New research indicates that a single enzyme, plasma-accessible carbonic anhydrase (paCA), plays a large role in their ability to migrate long distances against strong water flow.

An indigenous tribe in Washington is strategically placing beavers around to help salmon
The Tulalip Tribes have been leading beaver relocation and restoration work in Washington since 2014. Beaver dams create complex habitat, including deep pools, side channels, and backwaters that baby salmon need to rest and hide from predators. The presence of beaver dams also keeps streams hydrated later into the dry season and cools water temperatures, features that are increasingly important in adapting to a warmer climate. Previously prohibited from relocating beavers to Western Washington under the old beaver bill, non-tribal groups are now allowed to join Tribes in relocating beavers west of the cascades as the result of a 2017 Beaver Bill update.

Early lives of Alaska sockeye salmon accelerating with climate change
Higher temperatures in Alaska have resulted in an increase in plankton available in lakes and rivers, providing juvenile sockeye with more food at a young age and allowing them to migrate out to the ocean up to a year earlier. Those juveniles then spend longer in the ocean, where they have to compete with an increasing number of hatchery-raised salmon and changing ocean conditions. Scientists worry that this trend could negatively impact the resiliency of the Bristol Bay sockeye population.

Barriers to migration in Puget Sound
Initial findings from Long Live the Kings' assessment on juvenile steelhead mortality at the floating Hood Canal Bridge show that habitat conditions around the bridge give predators an advantage and steelhead are at a high risk of being eaten before they can navigate past the bridge.

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 www.govlink.org/watersheds/8/.

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