Fence makes it tough for viewing salmon on annual tours

Some fishy behavior from visitors in years past led to creeks being fenced off during the Kitsap Annual Salmon Tours Nov. 4.

Aaron Bartleson, the county parks coordinator for the event, explained restrictions were to protect the transiting and breeding fish from being startled. Unlike previous years when visitors have been observed actually entering the stream and harassing fish, Bartleson said that no special access to the creek would be allowed this year.

The fences didn’t make it easy to view the spawning fish, which is what the event is all about. But that wasn’t the only impediment. Prior to noon, the rain was torrential, which is great for salmon eager to navigate fresh and high water upstream, but not so great for viewers.

Spawning salmon, however elusive, were not the only attractions though. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife had an educational display, and volunteers discussed ongoing efforts to manage the state’s living resources.

Mujahed Karimi from the state Department of Transportation educated visitors about road projects designed to reduce and reverse impacts on salmon habitats at Chico Creek.

The Salmon Tours are organized by Washington State University, county parks, and the various viewing locations, of which there are eight (although one, Chico Creek Mouth, was not open due to ongoing riparian work).

Karin Knopp, a county parks volunteer who manned a station at Chico Salmon Park, said each location could expect (based on previous attendance) between 800 and 900 viewers.

WSU’s Sharon Pegany was also onsite to discuss the relationship between water quality and salmon health. She explained the Salmon Docent program, a county-funded effort that annually trains 25-30 volunteers who become trainers and docents at these and similar events. Although the program does charge tuition, Pegany explained that there are other funding options and that “anyone who wants to attend can.”