If not for Bill’s more than 12 years of volunteer work in ensuring that salmon return to spawn every year in Carkeek Park, countless community members and youth would not have had first-hand, hands-on knowledge of salmon life cycles, stream restoration, storm water runoff, or their importance to watershed health. Bill has built lasting relationships across every agency and organization that has a role to play in the direction Carkeek Park takes, including Seattle Parks, SPU, Fish & Wildlife, UW, KC Metro, Carkeek Park Advisory Council, Carkeek Watershed Community Action Project, and Salmon Education Alliance – just to name a few. Perhaps the closest and most fortunate relationship Bill has nurtured over these many years is with the Suquamish Tribe and their generous staff at Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery who without their years of salmon donations and expertise, Carkeek Park would not have salmon in its creeks.
Bill began his volunteer work in Carkeek Park before local agencies clarified their restoration efforts in Carkeek Park. He utilizes his natural and professional engineering experience to guide the efforts to bring back meanders, pools, natural debris, and essential wetlands in ways that have established a returning, spawning population of Chum salmon to Carkeek Park. Through an exciting volunteer program that he began, visitors, parents, children, students, educators, and hundreds of volunteers have participated in the release of 70-100,000 salmon fry each Spring in Carkeek Park bringing 1,893 visitors to the Imprint Pond in 2015 and more than 2300 in 2016. Salmon fry return in 3-5 years as adults to spawn and to excite and inspire many more hundreds of park visitors and school students as they learn about the salmon life cycle and just as importantly, what they can do to ensure the future health and safety of the salmon and their own local communities.
Bill’s volunteer work includes the design, upgrades, and maintenance of the Imprint Pond System used to provide constant creek water during the crucial imprinting period. This gravitational flow system uses no motors or electricity. Without this innovative system, the adult salmon would not return to Carkeek Park. He coordinates the annual Salmon Spawning Survey that allows volunteers to collected essential data around the spawning success of returning adult salmon that is invaluable to urban creek management plans supported by Fish & Wildlife and SPU. In short, Bill’s volunteer efforts over more than a dozen years have created sustainable and scale-able opportunities for a very large community of volunteers who help feed and maintain salmon fry and the Imprint Pond System. Volunteers include UW Fishery students developing capstone projects, home school associations seeking science activities, retired locals, and enthusiastic adults who contribute to these meaningful programs.
Essay submitted by Rick Henry on May 5, 2016 as part of the 2016 Cox Conserves Heroes Award nomination process.