FALL IS COHO TIME IN THE SNOQUALMIE VALLEY
by Kim Ross
Fall is Coho time in the Snoqualmie Valley, and some of those Salmon might be coming all the way to Ames Lake! After spending 2-5 years in the ocean, mature Coho Salmon return to their natal streams in order to spawn. For the Ames Lake Coho, that means traversing the Salish Sea to just north of Everett, where they enter the Snohomish River. Following their noses, they pass up tributary after tributary, until they find the Snoqualmie River south of Monroe. There they’ll turn, swimming through the Snoqualmie Valley, past Duvall, 124th and Novelty Hill, until they reach Ames Creek, and keep on going all the way here.
These salmon have survived thousands of potential predators and other hazards in their short lives, but this last stretch on the way to Ames Lake might be their most perilous. Water quality monitoring on Ames Creek has shown depleted dissolved oxygen levels and elevated levels of fecal coliform. It’s also tending warmer than is safe for salmon. Ames Creek runs through farmland and right next to roads. The first rains after dry stretches are directly associated with large salmon die-offs, as chemicals wash off the road and into rivers and streams.
There are some great efforts underway to help them, though. And we here at Ames Lake are doing our part. This will be our last weekend for clearing lily pads at the beach, outlet creek and in front of a few properties in between. We want to get the path from the outlet creek to the inlet creek as inviting as possible, and then get out of the way!
If you happen to spot one, let us know! Take a picture if you can, but let it get on its way. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll see some babies in the spring.