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Natural Resources and Parks
Public Affairs

‘Salmon SEEson’ returns: Safely spot fish coming home to King County rivers and streams


Adult salmon are returning home to spawn in King County’s rivers and streams – find details on self-guided and virtual viewing opportunities on the Salmon SEEson website. When out spotting salmon, remember to follow public health guidelines and recreate responsibly.


2008_10247m_SalmonSeeson-TwitterPacific salmon – including sockeye, Chinook, coho, pink and chum – have begun the journey from the open ocean to their birthplaces in King County streams and rivers that feed into Puget Sound. Kokanee, landlocked sockeye salmon that spend their entire lives in the Lake Sammamish watershed, can also be seen spawning in streams feeding into the lake.

Salmon SEEson program helps people witness this amazing migration at locations around King County.

This fall, you can find self-guided viewing locations as well as virtual viewing opportunities on the Salmon SEEson
website. If you decide to visit a self-guided site near you, please remember to follow current public health guidelines and to recreate responsibly: Plan ahead, practice physical distancing, wear a mask, choose a site near you, leave no trace, and contribute to an inclusive experience for all.

These salmon-viewing locations offer the best chances of seeing salmon – particularly during a year when many stocks are returning in below-average numbers. 

The 2020 sockeye run returning through the fish ladder at the Ballard Locks is the third-lowest return on record, after last year’s record low return. Sockeye are affected by the changing climate, with variable ocean conditions and warming of streams and lakes. Warmer water increases predator metabolism and consumption of juvenile salmon, and makes salmon more susceptible to disease.

While average annual Chinook returns fluctuate and are well below population recovery goals, 2017 saw the second-highest return to the Cedar River since before 2000 and this year, as of mid-August 2020, the count of returning adult Chinook through the Ballard Locks was almost double the 10-year average.

Lake Sammamish’s native kokanee population has been in decline for the last few decades and King County and partners have recently taken
emergency actions to prevent possible extinction.

Salmon are an icon of the Pacific Northwest and a vital cultural, economic, and environmental resource for our region. Local governments and community groups around King County and Puget Sound are working to recover salmon populations by protecting and restoring habitat, managing stormwater runoff from streets and other hard surfaces, and educating the public about what they can do to help.

Working to recover salmon is about more than salmon – it is fundamentally about caring for our home and making our communities sustainable for the long term. Protecting and restoring salmon habitat also improves water quality, reduces flood hazards, protects open space, improves stormwater management, sustains and improves our quality of life, and promotes a proud legacy of stewardship for future generations.

Practicing water conservation and pollution prevention year-round helps salmon thrive, which means more fish can survive and continue their journey to the ocean and back to local streams and rivers.

Salmon SEEson is sponsored by the WRIA 8 Salmon Recovery Council as part of its effort to recover salmon in the Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed. Additional sponsors include the Saving Water Partnership, Duwamish Alive Coalition, the Green/Duwamish and Central Puget Sound Watershed, the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum, and King County.

For more information, visit and click on Salmon SEEson.





Logan Harris, 206-477-4516


About the King County Water and Land Resources Division

The Water and Land Resources Division works to protect the health and integrity of King County’s natural resources. Employees work to reduce flood risks, monitor water quality and restore wildlife habitat; manage, and reduce the harmful impacts from stormwater, noxious weeds and hazardous waste; create sustainable forestry and agriculture; and protect open space to support all of these efforts.