Efforts aimed at saving native King County kokanee salmon

SAMMAMISH, Wash. (AP) — King County officials are taking emergency and other measures to help a native salmon that has declined sharply in recent years.

Biologists counted fewer than 20 Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon in the most recent return about a year ago. That’s a dramatic drop from five years prior when more than 18,000 young fish returned from Lake Sammamish.

King County officials said Tuesday they’re working to plant more trees, restore, reintroduce kokanee to additional creeks and capture some kokanee for a hatchery program.

Officials say the salmon are culturally significant and important to the region’s biodiversity.

Scientists are investigating reasons for the decline, including high temperatures and low oxygen levels in the lake as well as parasites and diseases.

Tens of thousands of kokanee population were once abundant in a wide range in King County. But they are now only found in Lake Sammamish and three nearby streams.