Tag Archives: Johnson Creek

Streamflows are creating good conditions for salmon

It appears that our summer and fall weather around Puget Sound has been very good for chum salmon.

A chum salmon navigates its way upstream in Chico Creek past new weirs installed at Kitsap Golf and Country Club.
Kitsap Sun photo by Meegan Reid

I’m getting reports that good numbers of chum are swimming up into sections of streams where they have not been seen for years. This means that conditions are ripe for watching salmon. Check out our salmon-watching map of the Kitsap Peninsula, and read my latest reports in the Kitsap Sun and Watching Our Water Ways. Also, Kitsap Visitor and Convention Bureau has created a special website for visitors who want to see salmon.

Jon Oleyar, who counts salmon in the East Kitsap streams for the Suquamish Tribe, offered the example of Johnson Creek, which flows into Poulsbo’s Liberty Bay.

“These chum were thick from the mouth all the way up,” Jon told me after checking out the stream this week. “There was decent flow, and I was amazed to see them all the way up.”

Reports of unusual numbers of salmon have been coming in from other streams as well, including Strawberry Creek, a small, heavily impacted stream that flows through Silverdale.

Most of these salmon appear to be coming in much earlier than normal, Oleyar said.
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Poulsbo parks commission focuses on Johnson Creek

Members of the Poulsbo Parks and Recreation Commission have called out Johnson Creek as a special wildlife habitat that needs more protection. In doing so, they have pushed a hot button in the city of Poulsbo.

See my story in today’s Kitsap Sun along with a video I shot in July with Jon Oleyar, a fish biologist who probably knows the streams of East Kitsap better than anyone.

Oleyar and others tell me that Johnson Creek is an important salmon stream. Because the stream corridor is largely undeveloped, it also serves as wildlife habitat. Is it one of the most important salmon streams or wildlife habitats in Kitsap County? I’ve asked the question and received mixed answers.

What the parks commission has pointed out, however, is that it may be the only significant wildlife habitat left in the city of Poulsbo. It’s clear the parks commissioners would like to get someone to pay attention to this area.

What worries property owners is that they won’t be compensated fairly, if at all, should the city seek to preserve the habitat. Planning Director Barry Berezowsky says the parks commission is getting “a little far afield” in discussing the city’s Critical Areas Ordinance.

It seems to me the parks commissioners have knowingly created tension within city hall as an act of conscience, knowing that it will be up to others to carry the ball forward.

As for the property owners, somebody deserves credit for leaving so much of the area undeveloped all these years. The Puget Sound Partnership has made it a top priority to protect the “last best places.” Maybe the state should come up with the money to take a closer look at the entire corridor. If it turns out to be prime habitat, then the state should be prepared to pay for acquisition of land or development rights.

A “habitat assessment” map (PDF 2.5 mb) by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is available on the Kitsap County Web site, but be aware that it’s a big file.

I realize that property values soared when portions of Johnson Creek were moved into an urban growth area. This isn’t a simple issue. But some people, for a price, may be willing to sign a conservation easement on a portion of their property. The result could be a wonderful piece of open space for Poulsbo residents to enjoy along with those who eventually buy a house near Johnson Creek.

I can’t say whether the parks commissioners went beyond their authority. But, after listening to them discuss the issue, I find it courageous of them to battle the pressure and craft thoughtful proposals as well as explaining the rationale for their actions.

I will try to share more information about this when the planning documents become available.