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

Heat Wave: Seattle's salmon face lethal water temperatures on a challenging migration

Lake skyline and boats

Image: Lake Washington, Washington 

With the anticipated fall return of salmon to the Lake Washington Ship Canal, researchers are concerned about the safety and health of Chinook, sockeye and coho more than ever. Record high temperatures, low dissolved oxygen levels and predation put returning salmon under extreme stress and drain them of the energy it takes to migrate through the Ballard Locks and Ship Canal to successfully spawn in the area streams and rivers.

Recently, a team of government and community partners convened to begin work on finding collaborative and creative solutions to assist salmon and address these migration barriers.

Full article.

Taking the temperature of salmon

River bank, wide river, trees and skyline

A young coho struggling to swallow a sockeye egg. In warmer streams, juvenile coho are more likely to grow large enough to exploit food subsidies from sockeye salmon. Photo: Johnny Armstrong

The Washington Department of Ecology has identified 350 streams in the state experiencing dangerously high temperatures. This news is alarming as elevated water temperature negatively impacts young salmon and their ability to grow, find adequate food sources, and avoid predators. Researchers spent the summer months gathering important data to develop modeling that can improve management of salmon habitat.

Full article.



Unleash the Brilliance and its benefit to the environment and south King County kids

people in kayaks on a lake

Yafet Amine bags a plastic bottle he just picked up from Lake Union on July 14. The kayak cleanup was organized by Unleash the Brilliance and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance. Terrell Dorsey, right, is president and founder of Unleash the Brilliance, which helps children with trauma or hardships in their background stay in school. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Founded in 2008 by Portland native Terrell Dorsey, Unleash the Brilliance pays students $15 an hour for their work to plant trees, test water quality, learn mapping skills, and conduct urban lake and stream clean up. The program engages youth that would otherwise not spend much time outdoors and many had a history of skipping school and failing grades prior to joining the program. With Unleash the Brilliance they learn leadership training, public speaking and help lead conservation and pollution prevention efforts in their communities and schools.

Dorsey and his staff often partner with other community groups to help organize workshops and events that help students regain an interest in school and conservation. Full Seattle Times article.

Confronting the needs of salmon and people in restoration

Skyline, lake and trees

The dock in Whiteman Cove at Camp Colman. The lagoon is set to be breached by the state of Washington for better fish passage. (YMCA of Greater Seattle)

In Whiteman Cove at YMCA’s Camp Colman on the Key Peninsula in south Puget Sound, what was historically a 29-acre pocket estuary was transformed by the state into a lagoon in 1962 to raise fish, but this reduced tidal exchange and access for salmon. Since the late 1960s it has operated as a YMCA camp for children to learn about water safety, salmon and the nearby ecosystem. As part of the effort to remove fish passage barriers around the state to meet legal obligations to tribes and improve conditions for salmon and orca populations, the state wants to remove the berm and help fish access Whiteman Cove in a way that YMCA says would limit campers' access. The YMCA would prefer to keep looking for ways to maintain the lagoon for both fish and the 100-year-old camp. The article notes how issues are resolved, and the Whiteman Cove site is an example of a broader and likely increasing challenge facing restoration managers – considering the needs of people and salmon in restoration efforts, especially in more developed areas. Full article. 

Minke whales of Puget Sound

Minke whale under water

Minke whale under water. Photo: Len2040 (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Little is known about northern minke whales, especially with southern resident orca getting the bulk of attention in Puget Sound. Growing to 35 feet, these baleen whales do not travel in pods and relatively little is known about them. In the 1980s, a small group of scientists and volunteers began studying them, and now the work carries on learning more about these quiet loners. Full article.



Indigenous plant forum preserving critical habitat and building awareness

Indigenous woman in a field of herbs

Samish tribal member Rosie Cayou harvests Indian celery or barestem biscuit root (Lomatium nudicaule) (left); mature sure seeds (upper left); flowering plant (right). Photos: William Bailey; Thayne Tuason (CC BY 2.0) and Ben Legler (CC BY 2.0)

Rosie Cayou, a Samish tribal member is building relationships with bog landowners on Whidbey Island. She encourages them to provide access to ancestral lands that are home to many medicinal herbs. Rosie has created an informal, tribal-nontribal-intertribal group that work to preserve the traditional knowledge of all ancestral plants and their uses. The Indigenous Plants Forum meets virtually and in-person to preserve, teach and maintain the plants and the human relationships needed before the knowledge is lost. Full article.

Salmon in the news:

People standing in a field

Washington State Department of Transportation officials meet with community members at the Edmonds Marsh Wednesday. (Photo courtesy Joe Scordino)

Community groups work to restore the Near-Shore Estuary in Edmonds

The Edmonds Marsh and Shellabarger Creek will receive a habitat restoration boost from several community groups, including Edmonds City Councilmembers. In July, members from Save Our Marsh, Willow Creek Salmon Hatchery, Edmonds Rotary club, and Stream Team met with Washington State Department of Transportation officials to discuss plans to remove fencing and invasive plants along Highway 104. Full article.



Lunds Gulch at Meadowdale Beach Park begins restoration after ten years of planning

water, flowing into a stream

Current culvert set for removal at Meadowdale Beach Park in Edmonds. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Snohomish County is beginning construction to replace a culvert under the BNSF Railway at Meadowdale Beach Park between Edmonds and Mukilteo with a 5-span railroad bridge. In partnership with BNSF Railway, the 1.3-acre waterfront park has received final approval to move forward after a decade of planning and design. The County hosted a project tour with Senator Maria Cantwell to highlight the multiple benefit project that will improve salmon habitat, public safety, and recreation. Sen. Cantwell was instrumental in securing federal grant funding to support the project and expressed her enthusiastic support for this project and other efforts to improve salmon access to streams along the Puget Sound nearshore. To read the full Herald Net article

Invasive Species alert: African Clawed Frog (ACF)

An emerging invasive species has been sighted in the City of Issaquah, in and around Tibbetts Creek and Issaquah Creek. The African Clawed Frog is harmful to native ecosystems by competing with native species and can introduce harmful pathogens. A primary difference between native frogs and the African Clawed Frog is the coloring - native frogs are green and bronze and much smaller than the invasive African clawed frogs. If found, please complete a report to the Washington Invasive Species Council

What Are the Characteristics of the African Clawed Frog?

Water conservation protects salmon habitat-use water wisely!

We share our drinking water supply with salmon, trout and other fish. It’s particularly important to conserve water in the summer and fall months when streamflows are naturally low and adult salmon are returning to rivers to spawn. Salmon have a challenging journey; please be fish-friendly and use water wisely. Visit the Saving Water Partnership  for tips and tools to reduce water use.



Salmon SEEson

Salmon SEEson is coming!
Fall is coming and salmon will be returning to streams and rivers throughout King County to spawn. The annual Salmon SEEson program will run from late August through November, promoting self-guided salmon viewing sites as well as some hosted events (stay tuned!). If you decide to visit a self-guided site near you, please remember to: plan ahead, practice social distancing, wear a mask, leave no trace, and contribute to an inclusive experience for all. Check out the Salmon SEEson website for more information on self-guided and viewing opportunities!

SAVE THE DATE: 10/6/2021 – Climate Summit 2021
Join Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler for the Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s Climate Summit 2021. Climate Summit 2021 is virtual, free, and open to the public. Speakers will highlight the latest climate science, private sector best practices, and regulatory environments related to climate change. Click the registration link to join.

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