Letter from Water Tenders Regarding a Proposed Lake

April 28, 2008
Dr. Jeffrey Koenings, Director
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Natural Resources Building
1111 Washington Street S.E.
Olympia, Washington, 98501
Dear Dr. Koenings,
We represent Water Tenders, a non profit organization formed in 1989 to educate the
community about the Bear Creek Basin. We have also planted and maintained a number of
restorations along the creek, have a very successful “Meet the Salmon” docent program in the
fall, put out a newsletter to a mailing list of about 1000 and participate in many local
processes such as the WRIA 8 Salmon Recovery Council.
We very recently learned of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s planned
commercial salmon fishery outside the Ballard Locks and in Lake Washington. We strongly
urge you not approve this fishery and instead, clearly target Issaquah Hatchery fish with a
fishery in Lake Sammamish.
The North Lake Washington tributaries, Bear Creek included, are part of the Chinook
recovery plan for WRIA 8 and do not currently meet their escapement goals. The Bear Creek
sockeye show up in at least a couple of very reputable studies as a distinct gene pool.
Sockeye in general are not doing well this year and we don’t think the large number of
“missing “sockeye in past years has ever been adequately understood. With a fishery as
planned, it will be very difficult not to harm sockeye even if they are not the target catch.
A fishery in Lake Washington will confuse the public as to what it means for a species
to be endangered or protected. A Lake Sammamish fishery is very easy to explain and
understand. Those of us who share the habitat with salmon and spend countless hours
volunteering have a right to be part of this discussion and are critical to the fish returning in
the first place. It is our backyards that are heavily regulated to protect these fish. Beyond
that, it is an event in our neighborhoods when they return and we feel a loss when the fish
aren’t there as much as the fishermen who can’t fish. Our streams have been starved of fish
and the nutrients they bring which is a long term detriment to many species. These salmon
deserve protection until they are truly at harvestable levels.
We urge you to be cautious in your decision making. It would take very little to turn
back the small gains in recent years. Twenty of us put in over 70 volunteer hours this last
weekend mulching trees we planted along the creek in the Upper Bear Creek Conservation
Area. We do this as part of our community but also with the hope of seeing salmon return
each fall. We have no problem with harvesting Issaquah Hatchery fish but ask that this be
done without harm or risk the Bear Creek salmon.
Thank you for considering our comments. Should you wish to contact our group on
this issue, the contact person is Terry Lavender. 17304 208th Ave. N.E., Woodinville, WA
98077 tlavender@worldnet.att.net
The Water Tender Board
Guy Baltzelle
Shirley Doolittle Egerdahl
Jeff Goold
Terry Lavender
Jonathan Morrison
Dick Schaetzel
Susan Wilkins
Bob Yoder
Bob Everitt, Regional Director. WDFW
Bob Lohn, Regional Administrator, NOAA-Fisheries