April 2021 Newsletter
Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed
Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 8

Ghost shrimp, humpbacks, tiny plankton: See Puget Sound surge with springtime life

Gray whale (photo by Chris Johnson)


Improving trends in the populations of several Puget Sound species, from the bottom of the food chain to the top, provide examples indicating that conservation efforts are working. This recent article highlights examples of conservation success, noting that although much work remains to restore Puget Sound to health, these examples provide hope for recovery of other important species still struggling, including Chinook salmon and Southern Resident orca.

Read the full Seattle Times article.

Seasonal diet of Southern Resident orca and its implications toward salmon recovery

A recent study monitored the seasonal diet of Southern Resident orca to fill data gaps and inform predator/prey conservation strategies.

Photo courtesy of Denise Di Santo, King County

King County Executive tours Bear Creek

On April 7 (International Beaver Day!), King County Executive Dow Constantine joined the Bear Creek Basin Steward and program managers to visit habitat restoration projects along Bear Creek that demonstrate connections to the Executive's Clean Water Healthy Habitat initiative and implement the WRIA 8 Chinook Salmon Conservation Plan. The projects integrate green stormwater infrastructure, fish passage, and habitat restoration in one of the most productive salmon streams in the region.

The tour included the Lower Bear Natural Area and a Salmon SEEson viewing site.

King County's 30-Year Forest Plan announced

Photo courtesy of King County

With input from Tribes, nonprofit groups, cities, community members and forestland owners, King County Executive Dow Constantine unveiled a 30-Year Forest Plan to increase forest canopy and improve forest health that will address climate change and achieve clean water and a healthy habitat.

"The spectacular forests of King County have defined our landscape since time immemorial, contributing to the clean air and water, healthy habitat, and recreational opportunities that we enjoy today," said Executive Constantine. "The 30-Year Forest Plan is our generation's commitment to ensuring that all those who come after us experience those same benefits while honoring tribal rights and making access to forestland more equitable."

Full news release.

Learn more about the 30-Year Forest Plan.

Issaquah Creek. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Georgiadis

Are summer low flows increasing in Puget Sound streams?

There is scientific data tracking increased low flow levels in Puget Sound streams. A study, initiated in 1975, surveyed the impact of a variety of human-derived factors on stream flows.

Full study.

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe catches two invasive Northern Pike in Lake Washington

In March, during the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe's warmwater test fishery on Lake Washington, two Northern Pike were caught. These invasive predatory fish were likely illegally placed in the lake and their presence, along with other invasive predatory species like yellow perch and smallmouth bass, poses a grave threat to migrating juvenile Chinook and other salmonids.

Full article.

Tribal and State fishery co-managers promote cooperation to plan annual salmon fisheries and recover salmon populations

Each year, Tribes and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) negotiate and plan the salmon fishing season, during a process called 'North of Falcon.' With shrinking salmon populations, this process has become increasingly challenging, requiring an understanding of the status and impacts to each salmon population and identifying harvest opportunities where possible.

Full Seattle Times op-ed.

Learn more about North of Falcon.

The changing definition of shoreline armoring

Shore Friendly

Timber pile bulkheads at Ledgewood Beach on Whidbey Island. Photo: Washington Department of Ecology

Terms like bulkheads, seawalls and revetments immediately conjure images of the concrete, metal and woodwalls used to armor shorelines to protect property around Puget Sound. However, the importance of natural shorelines to the health of the nearshore and species like fish, shellfish, eelgrass, and algae that depend on them is well documented. Increasing state and federal efforts and incentive programs encourage property owners to remove armoring, but motivating the majority of shoreline property owners to consider alternatives to hard armoring may require a suite of approaches and rationale.

Full Salish Sea Currents article.

Toxic clean-up rules prioritizing social and environmental justice

A rusty radiator and other debris are found at low tide along the Duwamish River in Seattle. Sediments in and along the river contain a wide range of pollution from years of industrial activity and stormwater runoff. Contaminants include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), mercury and other metals, and phthalates. Photo: USEP

By targeting the highest levels of contaminated properties, Washington's Department of Ecology is addressing the statewide issue of toxic pollution. Studies have shown that neighborhoods with the highest level of poverty and little to no access to healthcare suffer from health problems that are directly linked to their environment and polluted waterways.

The rules and procedures under the state's Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) sets up a ranking for hazards at each toxic site, determine cleanup efforts and future uses for the land post cleanup are at the core of this program.

Learn more about MTCA.

Read full Salish Sea Currents article.

A ubiquitous tire rubber—derived chemical induces acute mortality in coho salmon

Read full study.

Salish Sea welcomes rare white orca and pod

Courtesy of King5.com

The Southern Resident orca J-pod's Chainsaw and TI'uk, the transient white orca, arrived in the Salish Sea during the first weekend in April. With the 'transient' or Biggs orca and Southern Resident orca J, K and L pods coming up Haro Strait, homeowners were thrilled to record this rare event.

Read the King5 article.

View the KING 5 video.

Floodplains by Design helped to create a win for the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians

With most of the tidal marshes around Puget Sound being developed, the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians are making changes on their land to improve Chinook habitat.

The Floodplains by Design program unite tribes, farmers, and much needed habitat advocates to create solutions that improve conditions for salmon and restore estuaries that support the Tribes' right to fish.

"Our culture is at risk of being lost," said Shawn Yanity, Chairman of the tribe, which ceased commercial salmon fishing in the 1980s. Ceremonial rights now allow tribal anglers to catch about 30 fish a year, Yanity said.

Read the full article.

Funding opportunities and announcements

King County Flood Control District (FCD) flood reduction grant program
This program targets flood reduction projects throughout King County, and the program is offering three new funding categories this year: urban streams, coastal erosion/coastal flooding, and culvert replacement/fish passage. All categories require a flood reduction benefit, but multi-benefit proposals are encouraged—including benefits for salmon populations.

Each grant category has $3 million available in this cycle, match is not required (although it is encouraged), and there is no limit on minimum or maximum grant requests. Applications are due on May 21.

Apply online.

Critical Areas and Shoreline Monitoring and Adaptive Management — Webinar available
Do you want to know if your critical areas and shoreline regulations are working as intended? Or, how to effectively track special permit conditions and mitigation requirements? The Washington Department of Commerce, Department of Ecology, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife hosted a workshop series to answer these questions and more.

Download Webinar recordings and associated documents.

Webinar series to discuss water quality improvements
Beginning on May 6, from 9-12 p.m. King County will kick-off a series of six webinars to explain qualitative causal models to share the Water Quality Benefits Evaluation Toolkit. Register online.

Invitation to the Partnering with Beaver in River Restoration Course
This course will be delivered in 10 modules plus a 4-hour Case Study session. Held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 8:30-12:30 p.m. Beginning May 17. Register online.

Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement Program
The program provides financial assistance to eligible organizations working on projects to address local environmental and/or public health issues in their communities. The program assists recipients in building collaborative partnerships with other stakeholders (e.g., local businesses and industry, local government, medical service providers, academia, etc.) to develop solutions that will significantly address environmental and/or public health issue(s) at the local level. Learn more.

Shoreline Revolving Loan Feasibility Study Results Available
Results of a study by the Puget Sound Institute and partners to assess the feasibility of a loan program to finance projects to improve shoreline ecosystem health demonstrate that this could be a viable mechanism to improve ecological outcomes. View the report and a recorded webinar presenting the findings of the study.

Puget Sound Partnership Releases Second Issue of Online Magazine
The most recent edition of Making Waves features three conversations, including one with Gov. Inslee, about Puget Sound recovery, climate change, environmental justice, and infrastructure, and a story about the collaboration and coalition-building of Puget Sound Day on the Hill.

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 Jason.Mulvihill-Kuntz@kingcounty.gov.