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.).