Fred, Freddy Faz Fish, French Fry, Mr. Teeny Tiny, Tiger and dozens more young coho were turned loose in a serene pond this past Saturday in hopes that a few will return in several years.
My sons River and Kiran and their friends Nathan and Eliza were among the kiddos doing the honors at Grace Cole Park, on a tributary of McAleer Creek at the north end of Lake Washington.
I was proud that the quartet kept at it till the job was done and all the unclipped hatchery silvers acquired from Issaquah Salmon Hatchery through the Salmon in the Schools Program and raised over the past few months at River, Nathan’s and Eliza’s nearby elementary had been set free.
The city of Lake Forest Park and concerned citizens have been working for over a decade to try and get salmon back into the stream, working with neighboring owners, removing stream barriers and protecting wetlands — the park at one point was about to become a development but was later purchased through grant funding secured by a local state senator — and last weekend’s release ties into it.
A brochure put together by a local group, the Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation, says that back in the early 1930s and despite heavy logging and even the construction of a flume near the turn of the century, McAleer was thick “every year with thousands of spawning salmon.”
The fish face a lot more challenges these days, but it was good to get local kids into the release — River even lent a hand pulling invasive English ivy.
And I was especially proud that after all the work was done, they wanted to go for a nature walk through the park.
I could keep babbling on, but, ugh, there’s Real Work that needs to be done this week, so here’s the release in pics below, and a link to the local streamwatchers group.
AS PART OF THE RELEASE CEREMONY, THE KIDS FROM RIDGECREST ELEMENTARY WERE ASKED TO NAME THEIR FISH. AT LEFT IS EITHER FRED, FREDDY FAZ FISH OR FRENCH FRY, I’M NOT SURE WHICH, AND SOON MORE NAMES WOULD BE ADDED TO THE CARDS AS THE BOYS MADE REPEAT TRIPS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
THE COHO FRY WERE RELEASED INTO THIS ALDER-SURROUNDED POND IN A WETLAND IN THE UPPER REACHES OF BROOKSIDE CREEK WHERE THEY WILL REAR BEFORE DESCENDING MCALEER CREEK INTO LAKE WASHINGTON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
MY SONS KIRAN AND RIVER (TOP) AND THEIR FRIEND ELIZA (LEFT) VIEW THE COHO FRY BEFORE THE BIG RELEASE SATURDAY. A DOZEN AND A HALF KIDS TURNED OUT FOR THE EVENT. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
FOR BEING SO CLOSE TO SEATTLE, THE TOWN OF LAKE FOREST PARK IS SURPRISINGLY WOODED. THAT HELPS KEEP STREAMS LIKE MCALEER AND LYON COOL. ONE OF THE BIGGEST NATURAL AREAS IS GRACE COLE PARK, NAMED AFTER A LOCAL RESIDENT AND THE FUNDING FOR WHICH WAS SECURED BY ANOTHER OVER 10 YEARS AGO. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
ELIZA AND THE BOYS ADMIRE THEIR COHO FRY BEFORE RELEASE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
AS PART OF THE RELEASE CEREMONY, THE FRY WERE RITUALLY CLEANSED WITH SMOKE. LAKE FOREST PARK WAS THE SITE OF A NATIVE AMERICAN WINTER VILLAGE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
THIS SIDE POND AT THE PARK IS MEANT FOR AMPHIBIANS. ACCORDING TO A BROCHURE FROM THE LAKE FOREST PARK STEWARDSHIP FOUNDATION, DURING RESTORATION WORK, GIANT PACIFIC SALAMANDERS WERE FOUND IN THE AREA, A GOOD SIGN AS THEY “REQUIRE BASICALLY THE SAME STREAM CONDITIONS AS SALMON.” (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
RIVER GIVES HIS SALMON A LIFT TO THE REARING POND. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
AS KIRAN AND A VOLUNTEER LOOK ON, RIVER RELEASES FREDDY FAZ FISH INTO THE REARING POND. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
THE BOYS WATCH AS THE FRY ORIENTS ITSELF TO ITS NEW SURROUNDINGS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
A SIGN DETAILS CHANGES AT GRACE COLE PARK OVER THE PAST 50 YEARS. PARTIALLY CLEARED FOR DEVELOPMENT IN THE LATE 1960S AND THE SUBJECT OF MUCH BACK AND FORTH IN THE LATE 1990S AND EARLY 2000S BETWEEN ACTIVISTS AND FORMER LANDOWNERS WHO WANTED TO BUILD SEVERAL HOMES HERE, THE 14.5-ACRE PARK WAS EVENTUALLY PURCHASED IN 2002, THANKS TO A $400,000 APPROPRIATION IN THAT YEAR’S STATE CAPITOL CONSTRUCTION BUDGET. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
A LAKE FOREST PARK STEWARDSHIP FOUNDATION MAP SHOWS THE CITY’S TWIN STREAMS, MCALEER AND LYON CREEKS. ONCE THEY MET IN A WETLAND WHERE THE SHOPPING/TOWN CENTER IS, BUT NOW THEY’RE SEPARATED. THOUGH BOTH HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY SILTATION, POLLUTION AND MODIFICATION, THIS JANUARY, DURING A STUDY OF SOCKEYE SMOLT PREDATION, A 14-INCH CUTTHROAT WAS SAMPLED IN MCALEER. IN 2012, AT LEAST 16 ADULT SOCKEYE AS WELL AS ONE DEAD CHINOOK WERE SPOTTED. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
ENGLISH IVY CHOKES TREES AND MAKES IT TOUGHER FOR NATIVE PLANTS TO TAKE ROOT. AFTER DELIVERING HIS COHO TO THE REARING POND, RIVER REEFS ON A VINE, SNAPPING IT OFF AND ADDING IT TO A PILE FOR REMOVAL. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
ELIZA AND KIRAN RELEASE MORE COHO INTO THE REARING POND. THEY AND RIVER WERE AMONG THE BEST STOCKERS, THOUGH IT WAS GOOD TO SEE SO MANY OTHER KIDDOS INTERESTED IN SALMON AND THEIR HABITAT. BACK HOME, WE HAVE INSTALLED A RAIN GARDEN TO TRAP STREET RUNOFF BEFORE IT DRAINS INTO THORNTON CREEK. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)
AS COHO REAR IN THE SECLUDED POND, NEARBY SALMONBERRIES RIPEN UNDERNEATH A CANOPY OF ALDERS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)