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CKHS students help fish cross the road

Students in Bill Wilson
Students in Bill Wilson's Advanced Placement Environmental Science class at Central Kitsap High School work to install a weir on Strawberry Creek in Silverdale to help spawning salmon in their migration.
— image credit: Photo by Steven DeDual

Students from Bill Wilson's Advanced Placement Environmental Science class at Central Kitsap High School have made a five-year commitment to help salmon make the migration up Strawberry Creek to spawning habitat.

"For the past four years, students have noticed that salmon trying to migrate up Strawberry Creek cannot make it past the culvert that passes under Silverdale Loop Road," Wilson said. "This year the students proposed a weir that would help the salmon through the culvert."

According to Wilson, Gina Piazza, a biologist from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, suggested he contact Brian Reese of Mid Puget Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group, a non-profit organization that works with communities to maximize self-sustaining salmon populations, for help and guidance on the Strawberry Creek weir building project.

Wilson, Reese and the students spent several hours Tuesday morning installing the weir in the hope fish will find their way across the road and into a more suitable portion of the creek more conducive to spawning.

"The project permit, which was granted by the Washington State Dept of Fish and Wildlife, requires that the students remove the weir in early January once the salmon are done with their migration," Wilson said. "Every year, students will reinstall and remove the weir. Hopefully, this project will lead to a more permanent fix of the problem such as a replacement of the blocking culvert with a larger structure that will permit free fish passage."

Wilson said there is some good spawning habitat in Strawberry Creek on the south side of Silverdale Loop Road, but not enough for the hundreds of fish that get trapped there year after year, but an abundance of spawning habitat exists on the other side.

"Surprisingly, there is a lot of prime salmon spawning habitat just upstream from the culvert," Wilson said.

Wilson said support for the project was immense and many local businesses and government agencies got involved in the project by way of donations.

"Special thanks to Sean Olmsted of Clear Creek Nursery for donating 7 yards of pea gravel without batting an eye," Wilson said. "Also, special thanks to Don Schultz, road superintendent for Kitsap County Public Works, for donating 500 empty sand bags for use in constructing the weir."

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