Tag Archives: Pacific Northwest Salmon Center

Norm Dicks inducted into Wild Salmon Hall of Fame

From childhood, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks was destined to become an advocate for salmon and ultimately a champion for the entire Puget Sound ecosystem, according to recent comments from his family and friends.

Norm Dicks on a fishing trip in 2010.
Photo courtesy of Pacific Northwest Salmon Center

Most people know that Norm — whose home lies in southern Hood Canal — will leave office at the end of this year. Recognizing his efforts on behalf of salmon, the Pacific Northwest Salmon Center recently named him to its “Wild Salmon Hall of Fame.”

Neil Werner, executive director of the salmon center, said Norm embodies all the criteria for hall of fame inductees, such as a passion to restore wild salmon, a willingness to share knowledge and much success in making things happen. Listing the criteria, he said, is like describing Norm Dicks himself.

I won’t list all the accomplishments that Neil cited during an induction ceremony two weeks ago, but they included Norm’s leadership in obtaining congressional funding for a variety of programs to restore salmon in Puget Sound, to heal the Puget Sound watershed (including federal lands) and to increase our understanding of how the ecosystem works.

As a result, salmon have regained access to 900 miles of stream habitat, including the nearly pristine watershed above two dams on the Elwha River.

“We will see the benefits of what he has done for an awfully long time, if not in perpetuity,” Neil said.
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Students share environmental projects during summit

It was refreshing this week to join 250 students of all ages at the GreenSTEM Summit in Belfair, where young people shared environmental projects they had been working on through the year. Check out my story in Wednesday’s Kitsap Sun.

Jaclyn Davis, 9, a third-grader at Breidablik Elementary School in North Kitsap, looks for birds during Tuesday's GreenSTEM Summit.
Kitsap Sun photo by Larry Steagall

The students came prepared to discuss their projects with others. While some students were more technically astute than others, it was clear that most had learned a great deal from the experience. Most of the 10 schools represented at the summit were engaged in some type of ecosystem analysis, such as monitoring streams for water quality.

During the first part of the day, the students visited educational displays, where experts talked about issues ranging from steelhead to cooking oysters and clams, including geoducks.

Later in the day, they became involved in “nature mapping” at the 40-acre Pacific Northwest Salmon Center. Nature mapping involves observing animals and writing notes in data sheets, as professional researchers would do.

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Pacific Northwest Salmon Center finds a home

I recall a day in February of 2003 when Al Adams, Neil Werner and several others involved in the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group called me to Belfair to unveil their vision for a Pacific Northwest Salmon Center.

They had been thinking about it for years, but it was time to bring their dream out into the open and try to raise $18 million to build a 40,000-square-foot building, including an exhibit hall, classrooms, computer lab, research facilities, museum and a small theater. Check out my first story on the salmon center and initial fund-raising efforts.

Raising that amount of money has proven difficult, but the salmon center was able to acquire enough funds to secure its own property adjacent to the Theler wetlands in Belfair. Buildings at the old Jack Johnson farm have been or are being remodeled to accommodate the basic idea for the center, and managers have plans for expansion as time goes on. See my story in last Sunday’s Kitsap Sun.

Future expansion may be limited by provisions added to Mason County’s zoning code, which affect educational facilities located on agriculturally zoned land. But Salmon Center organizers say they will cross that bridge when it is time to grow.

For now, many people feel a sense of accomplishment at realizing their dream, scaled back at least for now. More than a few people believe that things have turned out for the best. After all, building the salmon center on a farm, with its ties to history and the community, may be a better fit for Belfair and this critical wetlands where Hood Canal begins.

An open house has been scheduled for Dec. 9 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the center, which is located at the end of Roessel Road in Belfair.

Recognizing true activists in protecting wild salmon

Last weekend, five hands-on salmon activists were recognized during the annual Wild Salmon Hall of Fame banquet in Bremerton.

I didn’t want to let any more time pass before recognizing these nominees on this blog, as I did in my story last Sunday. Of course, special recognition goes to this year’s Wild Salmon Hall of Fame inductee: Christine Keff, owner and chef at the Flying Fish restaurant in Seattle.

Normally, the nominees are people who work to restore fish habitat, play an important role in wild salmon hatcheries, conduct research on salmon, or something similar. Nominees must demonstrate a passion for wild salmon, enhance public knowledge of wild salmon and produce a measurable body of work.

This year’s winner is the owner of a restaurant who promotes wild salmon on her menu.

At first, it seemed odd to recognize someone who is urging people to eat the fish that the others are trying to save. But then I realized that people have been eating salmon for thousands of years, and there are still plenty of salmon that are not endangered. Anyway, who wants to restore fish just to look at them? OK, maybe some people do. Still, fishing — both commercial and sport — makes a great livelihood and recreational activity, as long as we protect and rebuild those stocks that are not doing so well.

Apparently, Keff more than proved her worthiness for the award, in the way she teaches people about the many values of wild salmon and promotes a conservation effort in her restaurant and her life.

Read more about her in my story, along with a short description of the other nominees: Don Bayes, a retired teacher in the Stanwood School District and a longtime community volunteer; Rick Endicott, a lifelong resident of Hood Canal who manages Long Live the Kings’ hatchery on Lilliwaup Creek; Dick Knight, who died last year at age 72 after a life dedicated to showing salmon in their natural habitats through underwater photography; and Earl Sande, owner of Earl’s Marine, who grew up working on boats and came to understand the mysteries of salmon and their habitats.

For other information about the Wild Salmon Hall of Fame, visit the Web site of the Pacific Northwest Salmon Center, which sponsors the annual event