Lake Sammamish kokanee
King County, Washington
Emergency action to prevent the possible extinction of native kokanee salmon
Kokanee salmon are native to the Lake Sammamish and Lake Washington watershed but now spawn in only a few streams that feed into Lake Sammamish. Unlike their larger relative the sockeye salmon, kokanee do not go out to the ocean but spend their entire lifecycle in fresh water. They migrate from streams as inch-long fry and spend three to four years in Lake Sammamish before returning to spawn in the late fall and early winter in their natal streams.
This kokanee population’s habitat once encompassed the lower Cedar River, smaller tributaries to Lake Washington and the Sammamish River, and the Lake Sammamish watershed, but today its range is only Lake Sammamish and primarily three of its tributary streams used for spawning.. This population once numbered in the tens of thousands of fish. Since 2007-2008 the number of returning spawners has dipped below 150 spawners four times. Causes of this decline are currently understood to include altered stormwater flows, past hatchery practices, predation, fishing, passage barriers, and lake temperature and dissolved oxygen levels.
The Lake Sammamish Kokanee Work Group (KWG) is driving the collaborative effort to recover these little red fish. Watershed residents, local jurisdictions, agencies, and NGOs formed the KWG in 2007 to identify the causes of kokanee decline and then develop and implement actions to address them.
Lake Sammamish Kokanee Recovery Strategic Timeline (361 KB Acrobat pdf)
Lake Sammamish Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership
Extensive effort to support conservation of fish and wildlife in the Sammamish Basin, and contribute to the quality of life for current residents and future generations.
Watch videos of spawning, rearing and reintroduction of kokanee in Lake Sammamish tributaries since 2007.
- Kokanee Cam
Underwater video of kokanee returning to a stream in the Sammamish Watershed.
- Blueprint for the Restoration and Enhancement of Lake Sammamish Kokanee Tributaries
Restoration actions that build on the latest science and current efforts to move the Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon population closer to recovery.
Kokanee conservation presentations
Briefing materials presented to regional partners interesting in Lake Sammamish kokanee science, status and conservation efforts.
News and announcements
Jan. 31, 2019
External article, Bellevue Reporter
Local salmon face dire future amid effects of climate change
The "little red fish" with a big tale to tell
A partnership to save Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon
Celebrating 10 years of kokanee recovery actions
2017 gathering at Confluence Park in Issaquah
Mar. 10, 2017
External article, Issaquah Reporter
Planned kokanee documentary to tell the story of the little red fish in Lake Sammamish
Kokanee Quest: get out there
Geocaching around Lake Sammamish