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Emergency efforts to save kokanee salmon continue

Kokanee salmon are in jeopardy of extinction. Several groups are continuing their efforts to restore habitat before the fish disappear.
Credit: King County
Kokanee salmon.

Emergency efforts to save kokanee salmon continue as their numbers dwindle to near extinction in Lake Washington.

On Tuesday, officials with King County, the Snoqualmie Tribe, biologists, and landowners gathered to show off a new culvert restoration project on E. Lake Sammamish Parkway.

The newly constructed underpass allows for easier fish passage. The small opening the new culvert replaced was like a fire hose for salmon, making it nearly impossible for them to swim to spawn.

RELATED: Emergency action planned for kokanee salmon

Kokanee salmon, which are often called the little red fish, returned to spawn in alarmingly low numbers this year. Less than 20 were counted just five years after 18,000 returned to spawn.

The emergency action will also include using specially designed traps to capture returning spawners for the hatchery, freezing male kokanee semen for future use, waiting longer to release the fish into Lake Sammamish as well as releasing kokanee into additional creeks in the watershed.

RELATED: $90 million DNR funding request focused on environment, restoring salmon habitat

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