Where roads cross the flowing waters of Kelsey Creek, a six-mile-long stream contained entirely within the city of Bellevue, Wash., signs inform motorists: "This is a salmon stream."
Some residents are surprised. Kit Paulsen, who
leads the city's salmon education program, says, "A number of
people have called to say they didn't know there was a stream
there, and certainly not a salmon stream."
month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed nine species of
salmon and steelhead trout under the Endangered Species Act. For
the first time, this 26-year-old law requires urban areas like
Bellevue to help save endangered species. One is the Puget Sound
chinook, a salmon species whose range extends from the Canada
border to just beyond the southern extent of Puget Sound. It's now
listed as threatened. One run of these fish in the White River
dwindled to less than 50 before rising recently to a few hundred
fish. There once were thousands.
problem that we have with chinook is the loss of freshwater
habitat," says Bruce Sanford of the Washington Department of Fish
and Wildlife. "It's decreasing at an alarming rate."
Meanwhile, the Puget Sound population is
expected to grow from 3 million to 4 million by
"If we can't protect the freshwater habitat
we have right now," Sanford says, "we're going to lose the fish."