Poulsbo’s Fish Park will have a variety of experts on hand
Saturday to talk about the salmon run in Dogfish Creek and other
North Kitsap streams, as well as restoration efforts taking place
throughout the region.
Fun and educational activities for kids are part of the event,
which will go from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. My description of
salmon-viewing events on Saturday had the wrong date for the event.
Check out the flyer posted by
Poulsbo Parks and Recreation.
Paul Dorn, a biologist with the Suquamish Tribe, said the best
bet to see salmon in the creek will be earlier in the day, as the
tide will be incoming. Natural organic compounds called tannins
tend to color the water brown, so it is not always easy to spot
migrating salmon in the lower part of Dogfish Creek. If you miss
them at Fish Park, it may be worth a trip to Valley Nursery off
Bond Road, where I’ve often had luck seeing salmon.
“We just finished a wonderful restoration project,” Paul told
me, describing the installation of woody debris and gravel on a
tributary of Dogfish Creek at Fish Park. It’s a small stream, he
said, but it’s good rearing habitat for juvenile coho salmon and
cutthroat trout, and adult salmon can go up the stream when the
flows are high.
Salmon events are scheduled the following Saturday, Nov. 8:
Cowling Creek Center, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., 20345 Miller Bay
Chico Salmon Viewing Park, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., adjacent to
Kitsap Golf and Country Club, www.ext100.wsu.edu/kitsap.
Mountaineers Rhododendron Preserve, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with
walking tours at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.,
For a map of accessible salmon-viewing locations with videos
that describe each spot, go to Kitsap Peninsula Salmon
Watching. While there, check out the tips for successful
I’ve completed the seventh story package in a 10-part series
examining the Puget Sound ecosystem, with a special focus on
indicators of ecological health. We’re calling the project “Taking
the Pulse of Puget Sound.”
The latest stories, which ran Sunday and Monday, addressed
freshwater quality. The opening piece looked at the huge amounts of
pollution coming into our streams via stormwater — one of the
highest priorities for cleanup, yet one of the most difficult to
As the Puget Sound Partnership’s executive director Sheida
Sahandy told me, industrial discharges are still a concern, but
they are no longer the biggest problem.
“Now we’re dealing with stormwater, which is trickling in here
and trickling in there, and everybody has a finger in it,” she
Solutions are many, and the goal should be to shut off pollution
at the source, beginning with removing dangerous chemicals from
everyday products. Since the sources of pollution are numerous,
everyone needs to play a part — from cleaning up pet wastes to
properly using of household chemicals to reducing the use of lawn
and garden pesticides. (Those who don’t subscribe to the Kitsap Sun
may still find value in the graphics on the
Freshwater Quality page.)
I led off the first story by showing the increased efforts by
city and county governments to better manage their stormwater
systems, such as pumping out their catch basins, sweeping their
streets and converting outdated stormwater ponds into filtration
systems, commonly known as “rain gardens.”
I also introduced readers to the Washington Stormwater
Center, a research facility in Puyallup where scientists are
testing the effectiveness of rain gardens and pervious pavement.
Jenifer McIntyre, a Washington State University researcher, has
demonstrated that stormwater from highway runoff is 100 percent
effective at killing adult coho salmon. Yet that same stormwater
filtered through soil — such as in a rain garden — is cleaned up
enough that fish can survive, apparently unaffected.
Monday’s story addressed the increasing use of benthic
invertebrates — water bugs — to measure the health of streams. The
bugs are doing double duty, since they are both a measurement of
stream quality and a critical part of the food web for the
Some 27 local governments and organizations are involved in
collecting data on benthic invertebrates from about 850 stream
locations throughout Puget Sound. For results, check out Puget Sound Stream
When I began this project on freshwater quality several weeks
ago, I thought it was going to be easier than some of the other
story packages I have done, such as on fish, birds and marine
mammals. If anything, this issue is more complex. I’ll admit that
I’ve neglected this blog while pursuing these issues, and soon I
will be moving into the issue of freshwater quantity.
Overall, I must say that I’ve been impressed by the many people
dedicated to finding answers to the mysterious problems brought on
by pollution and by those finding solutions even before the
questions are fully identified.
Rolfes was praised for her deft legislative work in this year’s
session and “for being one of the state’s strongest environmental
leaders,” according to a statement from the political
“In the Senate, Sen. Rolfes fought for real action to protect
Puget Sound and the public from the threat of dangerous and
increasing oil traffic in our state,” said Joan Crooks, CEO of
Washington Conservation Voters, in the news release. “She proved
time and again that she is an effective champion who isn’t afraid
to take on industry and the Big Oil lobby to protect our
environment and communities.”
Rolfes was recognized for submitting and promoting legislation
designed to improve the safety of oil transport in and around Puget
Senate Bill 6262, the “Oil Transportation Safety Act” — one of
only two priorities put forth this year from the Environmental
The bill was blocked by legislative leaders in the Senate in
favor of a bill proposed by the oil industry, Crooks said.
“In the 2014 Senate’s most dramatic moment on the floor, Sen.
Rolfes skillfully used a rare procedural motion to set the industry
bill aside,” stated the news release. “Her leadership resulted in
the bill’s eventual demise; it was a deft and dramatic maneuver for
this environmental champion.”
Rolfes’ predecessor in the Senate from the 23th District, Phil
Rockefeller, also from Bainbridge Island, was named
Legislator of the Year by WCV in 2007. That’s the year he
served as chief architect of the bill to create the Puget Sound
Partnership and pushed through the legislation. The partnership has
since taken on the role of coordinating the restoration of Puget
Sound. Rockefeller left the Senate when he was appointed to the
& Conservation Council in July 2011.
UPDATE, June 11, 2014
Jeromy Sullivan, chairman of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, wrote
a tribute to Billy Frank that is worth reading. Jeromy mentions
three admirable attributes of Billy Frank and gives examples of
each. They are words to live by.
Stand up for what you believe in … even when no one else
Treat people with respect even if you’re on opposite
It’s the big and small things that make your community a better
The affection and admiration expressed for Billy Frank Jr. has
been somewhat overwhelming in recent days. I thought it would be
nice to pull together some of the tributes — including the memorial
service — that talk about this man who was an irrepressible voice
for salmon recovery, environmental restoration and Native American
Billy, 83, a member of the Nisqually Tribe and chairman of the
Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, died last Monday, May 5, at
his home. As I said in
Water Ways last Tuesday, I believe Billy will remain an
An estimated 6,000 people attended his memorial service Sunday
at the Squaxin Island Tribe’s Skookum Creek Event Center, located
at Little Creek Casino Resort near Shelton.
The service was recorded by Squaxin Streams and posted on the
Livestream website, which is the video player on this page.
Billy Frank’s own words, “Nobody can replace my life,” speak of
the changes from one generation to the next. Billy knew as well as
anyone that we can’t go back, but he asked people to help determine
a better environmental future. Secretary
of State Legacy Project.
Tributes, statements, news
William D. Ruckelshaus, former chairman of the Puget Sound
Partnership’s Leadership Council, of which Billy was a member.
Published in Crosscut, May 8.
Martha Kongsgaard, current chairwoman of the Puget Sound
Partnership’s Leadership Council. Published on the partnership’s
website, May 6.
To reporters in Western Washington, Billy Frank Jr. was the
essential interview when it came to reporting on fish and shellfish
Always gracious and enthusiastic, Billy would take my calls at
just about any time of day, sometimes between conferences in
Washington, D.C. He was willing to talk about anything, from
environmental problems to court rulings. You name it.
Usually, he was not the best person to discuss the rigorous
details I might need for a story. He left that to others. But one
could always count on Billy to passionately expound upon the needs
of salmon and how a particular policy or legal agreement would
further the cause.
At 83 years old, Billy had watched the rapid rise of modern
development and the sad decline of salmon populations throughout
Puget Sound. He was at the center of the battle to restore tribal
treaty rights and claim a place at the table where decisions are
made regarding natural resource policies.
It didn’t matter to Billy if you were a concerned citizen, a
U.S. senator or the president himself. He would greet people with a
hug and thank them for their efforts. During his off-the-cuff
speeches, he would urge everyone to keep working together, no
matter what conflicts needed to be overcome.
Billy, chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission,
was in Kitsap County — Suquamish to be specific — 10 days ago to
meet with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. Kitsap Sun reporter
Rachel Seymour heard him address the issue of salmon hatcheries.
Kitsap Sun, April 24 (subscription).
“Our hatcheries are under attack,” he said, saying that Puget
Sound had become “poison” to the salmon. “The hatcheries are there
because the habitats are gone. Big business says it costs too much
to have clean water.”
That was classic Billy Frank, shooting straight into the heart
of the matter.
I knew Billy on a professional level, but he had this rare trait
for making everyone feel like a friend. Of all the stories I wrote,
Billy was particularly pleased that I kept following the culvert
lawsuit years after it seemed forgotten by most people — even the
judge. In that case, the court ruled that Washington state has a
duty under the treaties to fix highway culverts that impede the
passage of salmon.
Billy appeared comfortable in most settings. He would plead and
demand, calling on people to do the right thing, his speech
peppered with occasional profanity. He was easily excited at
reports of progress, but always disappointed at the extremely slow
pace of ecosystem recovery.
His vision was to restore salmon populations to some semblance
of their glory when people could still make a living from the
bounty of nature. Without thinking, I always believed that Billy
would be around to see his vision fulfilled, no matter how long it
Martha Kongsgaard, chairwoman of the Puget Sound Leadership
Council, recalled hearing Billy speak last Thursday at the Salish
Sea tribal dinner.
“Billy assured us that he would be here for at least another
decade — he had so much work to do,” Martha wrote in a thoughtful
tribute to Billy. “He mentioned that his father lived to be 104 and
his mother 96 and that he hoped to split the difference. He was on
fire, naming names, calling us all to the cause, to come together.
He was as powerful as any in the room had ever heard him.”
As was his habit, Billy got up Monday and got dressed after his
shower. He sat down on his bed and didn’t get back up. His son
Willie found him a short time later.
It will be up to others to continue the fight to protect and
restore salmon to Puget Sound. We can be sure that there will never
be another Billy Frank. But those who knew him or heard him speak
can still be empowered by the indomitable passion that made him
such an unforgettable force.
“I think it’s a story of bravery and a story of love for this
place,” says Martha Kongsgaard at the beginning of the video on
Kongsgaard, chairwoman of the Leadership Council of the Puget
Sound Partnership, is celebrating the removal of a massive bulkhead
on Bainbridge Island. The removal, known as the Powel Shoreline
Restoration Project, occurred in the fall of 2012. The outcome was
to reconnect a saltwater marsh with the lower shoreline by removing
1,500 feet of man-made bulkhead from property owned by the Powel
In the midst of the excavation — which removed rocks, logs and
huge chunks of concrete — Babe Kehres, a family member whose house
overlooks the site commented, “I think it’s going to be beautiful
when it’s done. For me, it’s about taking things back to the way
nature wanted them to be.”
Reporter Tad Sooter covered the story for the
Kitsap Sun (Aug. 30, 2012). It turned out that removing the
bulkhead was less costly than repair — but not by a whole lot.
Still, restoring the natural conditions provided tremendous
ecological benefits without creating undue shoreline erosion.
The video, by Quest Northwest reporter Sarah Sanborn, shows the
excavation in progress and explains why we should celebrate the
project and the Powel family. But my favorite part is a slideshow
Sarah’s blog, which shows before and after photos of the
shoreline. It is easy to imagine why fish, wildlife and other
creatures would prefer the more natural condition.
Nobody was really talking about designating an official
“Washington state oyster” until 14-year-old Claire Thompson came
along. Now the state Senate has approved a bill, on a 47-1 vote, to
list the Olympia oyster as the state’s official oyster.
Claire is an eighth grader at Olympia’s
Nova School, which requires a yearlong project involving
something that students care deeply about and can make a
difference. Claire, who hopes to become a marine biologist or
oceanographer, developed a sense of history for the once-prominent
Olympia oyster, as we learned from her testimony before the Senate
Governmental Operations Committee.
The full testimony on SB
6145 falls between 40:00 and 51:00 in the
video on this page.
“Pollution near historic beds caused many closures of the
fishery and rallied the oyster farmers to fight for the earliest
pollution control regulations for clean water and cleanup,” Claire
told the committee.
Ostrea lurida, the scientific name for the Olympia
oyster, is the only native oyster to the region. The Pacific
oyster, imported from Japan in the 1920s, makes up most of the
production today, but the tiny Olympia is making a comeback as a
unique delicacy with natural ties to the region.
Claire talked about ocean acidification, caused by excess carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere, and its ongoing threat to the ecological
health of Puget Sound, Hood Canal and other bays and estuaries.
“Ostrea lurida,” she said, “stands as a living symbol
of Washington’s history, from the earliest Native Americans through
the pioneers down through statehood to the present day, deserving
protection as our native oyster. Please join me in fighting to
protect not only our native oyster but our waters as well.”
Claire is the daughter of Rowland Thompson, lobbyist for Allied
Daily Newspapers of Washington, who encouraged her to develop her
project and speak before the Legislature.
Jim Jesernig of Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association said
he supports the bill, even though it came as a surprise to his
“We have been very pleased working with Claire,” Jesernig said.
“It’s very interesting. From the industry, we did not see this. We
were working on derelict vessels and a whole bunch of things going
on. Claire has worked with folks in Willapa Harbor and the South
Sound. We would like to support this in any way.”
If next approved by the house, the Olympia oyster will become
the official state oyster, joining:
The orca, the official marine mammal;
The Olympic marmot, the official endemic mammal;
The willow goldfinch, the official bird;
The steelhead trout, the official fish; and
The common green darner dragonfly, the official insect.
Since then, Puget Sound Restoration Fund has helped rebuild
native oyster populations in many bays, with one of the greatest
successes in Liberty Bay near Poulsbo. Betsy Peabody, executive
director, told me this morning that her group has great hopes for
success in Dyes Inlet near Silverdale and in Port Gamble Bay in
North Kitsap. A new oyster hatchery in Manchester is expected to be
in operation later this year.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has developed a
long-term restoration plan for the Olympia oyster with 19 areas
listed for habitat restoration:
Bellingham Bay (South) Shoreline, Portage Island, and Chuckanut
Port Gamble Bay
Union River/Big and Little Mission Creek(s) deltas
Liberty Bay and sub-inlets
Dyes Inlet and sub-inlets
Point Jefferson-Orchard Point complex of passages and inlets
Harstine/Squaxin Islands complex of passages and inlets
Sunday marked the halfway point in my ongoing series “Taking the
Pulse of Puget Sound,” which examines the health of our waterway
and asks the question, “With all the money being spent on
restoration, are we making any progress?”
For me, the series so far has been an adventure and a learning
experience, thanks to abundant help from the many great scientists
and smart policy makers we have in this region.
The first half of the project has focused largely on species,
including humans; herring and organisms at the base of the food
web; salmon and marine fish; marine mammals; and
Sunday’s piece on birds (subscription).
Still to come are stories about marine water quality, freshwater
quality, upland habitat, water quantity and the future.
As a reporter, I regret that everyone can’t read all these
stories immediately without a subscription to the Kitsap Sun, but I
have to trust that these kinds of business decisions will allow me
to keep doing my work. Still, many of the stories, photos and
graphics in this series are available now with or without
subscription, starting with the lead page, “Taking
the Pulse of Puget Sound,” and moving through the series:
Some of the larger points from the latest seabird
Puget Sound has about 70 common species of marine birds. Many
populations are in decline but some appear to be stable and a few
The winter population is about four times as large as the
summer population, reaching a peak of roughly half a million
Because birds can fly from one place to another, their choices
of location can tell us something about the health of one place
compared to another in Puget Sound.
If the population of a wintering bird species is in decline,
you need to know something about its migration route and nesting
area before you can conclude that conditions in Puget Sound are to
The marbled murrelet, a “threatened” species, is an odd bird,
first identified by early explorers in the late 1700s but whose
nesting habits weren’t discovered until 1974.
Researchers are trying to learn why two similar birds — tufted
puffins and rhinoceros auklets — are faring differently in Puget
Sound. Steep declines are seen for tufted puffins, which may be
headed for an endangered species listing, while rhinoceros auklets
are on the increase. Their varying behaviors are at the center of
Ecosystem indicators for birds, as chosen by the Puget Sound
Partnership, are more involved than most other indicators. They
focus on the densities of four bird species and also consider food
supply and reproductive success.
When it comes to ecosystem restoration, I love it when we can
see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s rare when we have a
chance to say that restoration is nearing completion, since we know
that habitat work continues on and on, seemingly without end, in
many areas of Puget Sound.
So let us anticipate a celebration when Kitsap County’s regional
stormwater projects are completed, when all the deadly ghost nets
have been removed from the shallow waters of Puget Sound, and when
there are no more creosote pilings left on state tidelands.
Of course, the light at the end of the tunnel may be a mirage,
but let’s not go there quite yet.
Kitsap regional ponds
Kitsap County has been collecting a Surface and Stormwater
Management Fee from residents in unincorporated areas and using
some of that money to leverage state and federal stormwater grants.
The fee is currently $73.50, but it will rise to $78 in 2014, $82
in 2015, $86.50 in 2016, $91 in 2017 and $96 in 2018. See
Kitsap Sun, Nov. 27, 2012.
The good news is that the effort to retrofit old, outmoded
stormwater systems is nearing completion, with remaining projects
either in design or nearing the design phase. Check out the Kitsap
County Public Works Capital
Facilities Program for a list of completed projects with maps
as well as proposed projects with maps. As the documents show, the
regional retrofits are on their way to completion.
So what are the sources of future stormwater problems? The
answer is roads, and the problem is enormous. Still, the county has
begun to address the issue with a pilot project that could become a
model for other counties throughout Puget Sound. Please read my
“New strategies will address road runoff” (subscription) to see
how the county intends to move forward.
Ghost nets and crab pots
Earlier this year, the Legislature provided $3.5 million to
complete the removal of derelict fishing gear that keeps on killing
in waters less than 105 feet deep. The work is to be done before
the end of 2015.
Phil Anderson, director of the Washington Department of Fish and
Wildlife, was excited about the prospect. Here’s what he said in a
“Working in conjunction with our partners at Northwest Straits
and in the State Legislature, we have made enormous strides toward
eliminating the risks posed to fish and wildlife by derelict
fishing gear. This is difficult work, and it requires a real
commitment from everyone to get it done. We look forward to
celebrating the next milestone in 2015.”
The most amazing statistic I found on this topic involved the
number of animals trapped by ghost nets. According to one
predictive model, if all the nets had been left alone to keep
fishing, they could be killing 3.2 million animals each year.
Washington Department of Natural Resources hasn’t slowed down in
its effort to remove old creosote pilings and docks. The structures
can be toxic to marine life, obstruct navigation and snag fishing
gear. By 2015, the total bill for removing such debris is expected
to reach $13 million.
Nobody is sure how much it will cost to remove the last of the
creosote materials from state lands, but DNR officials have
inventoried the various sites and expect to come up with a final
priority list over the next six months. Some pilings on privately
owned land may be a higher priority for the ecosystem, and
officials are trying to decide how to address those sites. Of
course, nobody can tackle pilings on private lands without working
through the property owners.
Download a spreadsheet of the
work completed so far (PDF 53 kb), which involves a focus on 40
sites throughout Puget Sound. Altogether, the projects removed
about 11,000 pilings plus about 250,000 square feet of “overwater
structures,” such as docks.
About $22 million in state and federal grants were awarded last
week for Puget Sound ecosystem restoration, another installment in
the struggle to nurse Puget Sound back to health.
About $12 million in state and federal funds came through the
Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program, or ESRP, under the
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. As the name suggests,
these funds are focused on improving nearshore and ecosystem
Another $10 million came from the Puget Sound Acquisition and
Restoration (PSAR) Fund, which is focused mainly on salmon
restoration. More of those funds will be awarded before the end of
Reporter Tad Sooter and I wrote about the West Sound projects in
Friday’s Kitsap Sun (subscription required), focusing a good
deal of our attention on a key acquisition of property on the
Bainbridge Island shoreline along Agate Passage.
The property includes 4.5 acres of tidelands, including 550 feet
of undeveloped beach, along with 7.5 acres of upland woods and
meadows, all to be preserved by the Bainbridge Island Land
Brenda Padgham, stewardship director for land trust, told Tad
that this property is one of the last intact nearshore habitats on
Bainbridge Island. “The whole reach is so pristine,” she said.
Of the $1.2 million provided for the Bainbridge Island purchase,
$810,000 came from the PSAR funds and $396,000 came from the
Betsy Lions, who manages the ESRP for the Department of Fish and
Wildlife, said most of that money this year will go toward removing
unnecessary bulkheads, replacing culverts that block salmon passage
and restoring tidal functions.
The salmon recovery money was approved Thursday by the Salmon
Recovery Funding Board. In a news release
yesterday, Gov. Jay Inslee stressed the economic value of
preserving the state’s salmon runs:
“These projects will increase salmon populations while giving a
boost to the economy. Salmon are important economically to
Washington state and these projects will provide construction jobs
and help countless numbers of Washington families and businesses,
including tackle shops, charter operators, restaurants and hotels,
that rely on the world-renowned Pacific salmon.”
David Troutt, chairman of the SRF Board and natural resources
director of the Nisqually Tribe, made this comment:
“Puget Sound Chinook are about one-third as abundant as they
were a century ago. As we have developed our urban and rural
landscapes, we’ve damaged many of the estuaries, floodplains and
rivers that salmon need to survive. These projects have been
selected as ones that will make big impacts on Puget Sound and
salmon recovery. Those two things go hand in hand. Puget Sound
needs healthy salmon, and salmon need a healthy Puget Sound.”
The 11 PSAR projects are outlined in a
document (PDF 106 kb) on the state Recreation and Conservation
Office’s website. By the way, projects in Hood Canal were held up
until October, as members of the Hood Canal Coordinating Council
continue discussions about priorities.