Clean Water

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CWCAP, UW Ecology, and SPU Salmon Stewards Celebrate Salmon on Nov 18, 2018

Yes, that’s a fish somewhere in the middle and Julie K. Combs, PhD, all the way to the right with UW BES 312 Ecology students filling the frame; Photo by Catherine Anstett; Carkeek Park, 11-18-18

The Carkeek Park community of all ages celebrated the annual Piper’s Creek Salmon Celebration on Sunday, November 18, 2018.  In addition to hot drinks, music, good food, and a kid-friendly scavenger hunt through the park, volunteer Salmon Stewards were on hand to welcome, engage, answer questions, and inspire park visitors drawn by the annual Piper’s Creek salmon run.

Another exciting activity involved  a field trip by 31 University of Washington students enrolled in a UW BES 312 Ecology course led by Julie K. Combs, PhD, Conservation Scientist/Ecological Consultant at UW.  Students were divided into 3 groups and rotated through 3 education stations that included:

1. Creek Walk lead by SPU‘s Allison Heisel and Anna Murphy, Salmon Stewards
Learning objectives and topics to explore: Learn fish life cycles and species present (Chum, Coho, Trout), storm water run/off and salmon health (e.g., pre-spawning mortality in Coho), examine different restoration features along the stream that enhance salmon habitat, make linkages to broader food webs e.g., what animals consume salmon (live or dead salmon), how do decomposing salmon bodies nourish other organisms, how do healthy salmon returns impact our southern resident Orca population (74 individuals as of Oct 2018), what does the monitoring data tell us about the success of returning runs?

2. Salmon Anatomy and Supplemental Stocking Systems lead by CWCAP‘s Rick Henry
Learning objectives and topics to explore: Part A. Salmon Anatomy & Systems: Swimming, Imprinting, Respiration-Pulmonary-Circulation, Digestion, Reproduction; Part B. Salmon Restoration, Action, Education, and Outreach: History of salmon & habitat in Piper’s Creek Watershed, Development, Stormwater & Sewage Conveyance, Local Salmon Extinction (1927), Clean Water Act of 1972, Carkeek Watershed Community Action Project (1979), Community Action, Volunteerism & Partnerships, Creek restoration & salmon stocking, Imprinting salmon with off-channel Imprinting System, Salmon rearing, release & return, Surveys & Investigations, Education, Current status of salmon & habitat in Piper’s Creek Watershed, Future of salmon & habitat in Piper’s Creek Watershed, Drains & pipes, improvised ditches, SEA streets & green stormwater infrastructure.

3. Forest Ecology and Native Plants lead by UW professor, Julie Combs
Learning objectives and topics to explore: identify the dominate understory and overstory plant community in a Puget Sound Lowland Forest (Western Hemlock Zone), explore secondary succession at different stages, talk about different disturbance factors that influence successional patterns, examine how aspect and slope (i.e., north-facing vs. south-facing) influence plant community structure and assembly, investigate how forest health can enhance salmon habitat, discuss the many players in the food web in the Piper’s Creek Watershed (identify the primary producers, decomposers, consumers, secondary consumers etc.). 

Salmon activities at Carkeek Park this Fall 2018

Each salmon carcass is sampled for a variety of standard data needed to determine spawning success.

CWCAP Spawning Survey & Count
Each Fall, Carkeek Watershed Community Action Project (CWCAP) enters the creeks and tributaries in the Pipers Creek Watershed to collect data from the salmon that naturally die after returning to the system. The primary objective is to determine the relative spawning success of salmon in Piper’s Creek and its largest tributary, Venema Creek. Spawning success over time is one measure of the health of the salmon run and the health of the creeks. Each Saturday beginning in early November until the end of the salmon run (1st or 2nd week of December) you will see CWCAP investigators collecting data from deceased salmon. Data is compiled and submitted to local agencies to help understand the status of salmon in our urban creeks. Say hello when you’re at the park on Saturdays each fall. We’ll be there between 10am and early-to-mid afternoon.

These two Chum salmon from the fall of 2017 moved from Pipers Creek to Venema Creek in often grueling search for mates.

Carkeek Park Salmon Stewards
Be sure to visit Carkeek Park on Saturdays and Sundays from Nov 3 to Dec 2, 2018 between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM when trained volunteer docents, or Carkeek Park Salmon Stewards, will be available along Piper’s Creek.  Sponsored by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), these friendly Salmon Stewards in great looking blue vests will show you where the salmon can best be viewed.  With an excellent information canopy and determined salmon seeking prime habitat and mates, you are bound to learn about salmon life cycles, watershed issues, and water quality fundamentals.  Tell your own fish stories.  Or just observe.  Most of all, bring your family and friends!

Select here for a Salmon Return summary for the past 4 years:
CarkeekWatershed.org/salmon-return/

Carkeek Park Salmon Search
Beginning Oct 25 to Dec 7, 2018, more than 30 elementary public and private schools will take part in field trips to Carkeek Park to experience the remarkable return of salmon.  This annual program, sponsored by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), provides 3 educational activities that match Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with the timely arrival of salmon to the park.  Each school participates in a Salmon Dissection/Anatomy activity, a Salmon Ecosystem Simulation activity, and an Interpretive Creek Walk along Piper’s Creek.

Last Fall 2017, 25 schools participated with 1,256 students and 222 teachers, parents and chaperones attending.  Most of the Salmon Search schools will participate in the Salmon in the Schools — Seattle program beginning in January when they will raise salmon eggs in their schools.

Salmon in the Schools Training
On Saturday, October 27, 2018, a new group of public and private school teachers participated in training at Carkeek Park designed to prepare them to set up and maintain 55 gallon refrigerated salmon aquariums.  These 18 daring and committed teachers will not only raise 200-220 salmon eggs to the fry stage (early free-swimming), they will do so with the help of their students while integrating curriculum-based education around science, math, social studies, and art.

The 2019 annual Salmon in the Schools — Seattle program is 70 schools strong this year.  Schools choose to receive either Chum, Coho, or Chinook salmon based on, among other considerations, their school’s location relative to permitted release sites (e.g., Lake Washington, Puget Sound).

Of the 70 city-wide schools participating in Salmon in the Schools — Seattle, about two dozen have chosen Chum salmon and will therefore bring their salmon fry to Carkeek Park in April to be imprinted by CWCAP Salmon Imprint Steward volunteers for release in May.

Welcome the autumn and the salmon!