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Scouts launch salmon on the journey of a lifetime
"The coho salmon fry, about three inches long, slooshed down the side of the blue plastic bucket, slid into the swift water of Illahee Creek, and were off on a new adventure.Kendal Mantzke, 10, stood up with the bucket and started back down the creek to the home of Judy and Irwin Krigsman. She was part of a group helping release 500 juvenile hatchery salmon into the creek Wednesday, May 2, as part of a salmon restoration project. Salmon restoration has become a family tradition for the Mantzkes, including Kendal and 14-year-old Taylor, who participated with about 20 of his fellow Boy Scouts from Troop 1543.I helped feed the fish when the Krigsmans had a hatchery last year on the creek, Kendal said.Said Judy Krigsman, The family would go and feed the fish at Illahee dock when the community had a hatchery there a few years ago as well.And although the creek flows through the Krigsmans' property on Illahee Road on its way to Port Orchard Bay at Schutt Point, it's a part of the community, Irwin Krigsman said.The great thing about all that's gone on here is it's a community thing, he said after the fish release. It's not our stream, or the Boy Scouts', it's the community's. You can always get people to come out to help with it.Part of the land on the south side of the creek belongs to the Boy Scouts organization.The Krigsmans have been deeply involved in the environment and restoration of the salmon run to the creek since their arrival in the neighborhood almost a decade ago.The green hatchery tank and piping the Scouts and their leaders helped haul up the hill from the stream after the release were a testimony to that. They loaded the pipe lengths into the bed of the truck in which Suquamish tribal biologist Paul Dorn delivered the salmon fry earlier.The fish were products of the tribe's hatchery on Grovers Creek in Indianola, he said.Dorn, salmon recovery coordinator and manager of the tribe's salmon enhancement program, was besieged by questions about the fish, and how many to expect to fight their way back and spawn as adults.The coho released Wednesday would spend a year and a half in the fresh water stream, then another 18 months in the Pacific Ocean before returning, Dorn said. But some of the males come back a year early.Scientists believe the fish traverse thousands of miles and find their home streams by their powerful senses of smell.Coho stay pretty much off the west coast of Vancouver (B.C.) but they can range up to southeast Alaska, he told the Scouts. When they go to sea ... they'll memorize the scent of this stream. All the coho in this area pretty much are from hatcheries. We hope to change that, Dorn added. It looks like that's happening. I've seen some natural coho in the stream, and we know 60 adult fish returned to this stream last year.The members of one local family were pleased to hear that.Frank Richmond of Bremerton, who grew up in the area and played in the creek as a child, came back to participate in the coho release with his wife, Barbara, sons Frank and Kevin, and Frank's children, Ryan and Annie.Kevin Richmond is a leader of Troop 1543.I've been involved with the salmon project right from the start, Frank said.I played on the (Schutt, now Krigsman) property and on the stream as a child, he said. At one point in the trek upstream he indicated what had been a six-foot high rock wall dam on the stream.There used to be a good-sized pond on the property when Dr. Ray Schutt (pronounced Scutt) owned it in the 1930s, he said. But By the time I was old enough to pick blackberries (about 1950) the pond had filled up with silt, he recalled.Only two-and-a-half feet of the ivy-covered wall was visibile.Back up the hill at the house, Judith Krigsman brought out a tray of taco chips for the workers.Is there any more things we can do? Kendal Mantzke asked.That was fun, let's do it again, said her neighbor, Tara Romans. "