National Wildlife Refuge System

Lake Sammamish Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership

Fry release at Lake Sammamish
Students prepare to release kokanee salmon fry on Ebright Creek in April 2013 during an event coordinated by the Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group in conjunction with the Lake Sammamish Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership.
Credit: Roger Tabor/USFWS
Who knew what the plight of a few "little red fish" would inspire? The Lake Sammamish Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership is the result of citizens, land owners, nonprofits, and local, state, tribal and federal governments coming together to restore native kokanee salmon populations and the ecological integrity of the greater Lake Sammamish Basin.

With historical runs estimated at 10,000 fish annually, Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon filled a critical ecological role within the watershed and were an important subsistence and cultural resource to the Snoqualmie and Muckleshoot tribes. These kokanee have experienced dramatic declines over the years, including a return of only 58 spawning adults in the 2010-11 season and the extinction of one of the lake’s populations.

In response to such declines, this great host of partners has developed and implemented a multi-layered recovery approach including: habitat restoration; landscape scale conservation; climate change research; fish supplementation; citizen science; and educational programming and information. The progress accomplished by this partnership towards these ends serves as both an example for others to follow and a great foundation for the restoration of these native fish. With 22 percent of Washington State residents living within this watershed, the Lake Sammamish Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership is a unique opportunity to not only restore the kokanee and the expansive ecosystem that depend on these fish, but to serve as a driving force to connect a large number of people to nature and instill a vested interest in this watershed.

Connect with Your Wildlife Heritage
This formal land designation by the Service of existing public lands within the Lake Sammamish urban growth area, collectively providing access to over 600 acres for the public to connect with their wildlife heritage and the land, will bring partners together and provide information on how the public can help conserve aquatic native species and their habitats for future generations. It will also make the connection between recovery of ecosystems and benefits to people. The opportunities to enjoy and connect to the environment are as diverse as the people, including: picnicking, swimming, fishing, boating, biking, hiking, geocaching, bird watching and salmon viewing.

This project successfully competed for the Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership designation in 2013 and is currently one of only eight in the country. Implementation is now under way, with partners working to develop an interpretive plan and concept design that will address the goals of this partnership. The designation of the Lake Sammamish Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership is a formal recognition of excellence under the Service’s Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative. Under the initiative, the Service is striving to make the outdoors more meaningful and accessible to urban audiences. This partnership provides cost effective, innovative ways to enable urban communities to learn more about the National Wildlife Refuge System and wildlife conservation and to gain an appreciation for the outdoors.

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Last updated: February 27, 2015