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Environmental reporter Christopher Dunagan discusses the challenges of protecting Puget Sound and all things water-related.
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Salmon in the Classroom survives in Central Kitsap

December 28th, 2010 by cdunagan

Central Kitsap’s Salmon in the Classroom program been going on longer than the one sponsored by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. So when I heard that the state’s Salmon in the Classroom program was being eliminated for budget reasons, I had a hunch that it might not affect Central Kitsap schools.

“The program was too important to us to have it rely on the vagaries of state funding,” Tex Lewis told me for a story in today’s Kitsap Sun.

In March 2009, sixth-graders at Woodlands Elementary School observed a two-headed salmon hatched in an aquarium as part of the Salmon in the Classroom program.
Kitsap Sun photo

Lewis is a leader with the Clear Creek Task Force, which took over the program when the Central Kitsap Kiwanis Club disbanded. (See Brynn Grimley’s July 7 story in the Kitsap Sun.)

Reporter Susan Gilmore’s article in the Seattle Times described how the state was eliminating its Salmon in the Classroom program to save more than $200,000 a year for Fish and Wildlife. The program involves environmental education for an estimated 40,000 students each year, she reported.

Paul Dorn, salmon recovery coordinator for the Suquamish Tribe, told me that the state’s program has supported a few aquariums in Kitsap County, and he hopes the tribe can pick up the cost for continuing and possibly expanding the program outside of Central Kitsap. Check out my story in the Kitsap Sun for details.

Central Kitsap’s Salmon in the Classroom program is an institution in these parts. Students become involved in watching the eggs hatch and the fish grow. They learn about the life cycle of salmon and what the fish need to survive in the wild.

When I think of the program, I can’t help but recall the tiny two-headed salmon discovered in an aquarium in a science classroom at Ridgetop Junior High School. The year was 2002, and the fish lived an amazing four months. Teacher Terry Donison named the two-headed fish “Sam and Ella.” See reporter Marietta Nelson’s story in the Kitsap Sun.

Last year at Woodlands Elementary, another two-headed salmon appeared. Marietta Nelson, who had returned to the Kitsap Sun after several years away, reported the second story as well. A few days later, I offered some observations in Water Ways.

There are numerous environmental education programs taking place in Kitsap County and across the state, as I reported in a story published on Earth Day last April. But one only needs to talk to the students and teachers to know that Salmon in the Classroom has proven valuable year after year.

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One Response to “Salmon in the Classroom survives in Central Kitsap”

  1. Doug Binder Says:

    The money for Salmon in the classroom is federal money. The state says its discontinuing that money, which appears to be false. The entire budget expense has been reallocated. What a coincidence.

    Mason County is getting over $435,000 ($435,118) in state grants for Salmon recovery projects. These grants from the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board are to fix damaged rivers and streams, replace failing culverts and replant riverbanks with the goal of helping recover salmon from the brink of extinction. Here is how the funds will be used in the County:
    The Mason Conservation District, Mason County and the Skokomish Tribe will use $175,000 to continue funding the Skokomish River General Investigation, which examines ecosystem degradation and flooding in the Skokomish watershed.
    The South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group will use over $79,000 ($79,450) to remove a derelict building hanging over the water and more than 200 feet of concrete bulkhead along the shoreline of Case Inlet; $80,000 to remove a creosote pier with 54 pilings and 350 feet of rock bulkhead on Squaxin Island; and over $100,000 ($100,668) to replace two, side-by-side culverts that are blocking fish passage in a Goldsborough Creek tributary.
    Also, a $100,000 grant was awarded to the Wild Fish Conservancy which will use the money to determine and correct water type classifications in 95 miles of stream in Water Resource Inventory Area 15, which is in Kitsap, Pierce and Mason Counties.
    And the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group will use a $126,745 grant to assess and continue control of knotweed in five river systems throughout Hood Canal – the Union, Tahuya, Dewatto and the Big and Little Quilcene Rivers. The group also plans to continue to educate the public about the impact of knotweed on salmon habitat.

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"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist

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