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Originally published October 10, 2009 at 3:00 PM | Page modified October 13, 2009 at 12:09 AM

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Mark Taylor honored for his work with Lake Sammamish kokanee

Groups are also working on a kokanee supplementation program, and are doing hatchery work to see if they can get more fish to survive.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Reel Time Northwest

Seattle native and lifelong angler Mark Yuasa blogs on fishing in the Pacific Northwest.

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The tireless work to save an imperiled local kokanee stock has paid off for Mark Taylor, the former president of the Washington Council of Trout Unlimited.

This past week, Taylor and five other recipients were named as finalists for Field & Stream Magazine's 2009 Heroes of Conservation.

Each of the six recipients were chosen as a sportsmen dedicated to protection of fish, wildlife and habitat in the United States.

"It is kind of cool to be selected, and nice to be recognized for this award," said Taylor, who had been the local TU president for the past three years before recently relocating to Miami, Fla.

Since October of 2006, Taylor along with the Bellevue-Issaquah Chapter of TU, City of Issaquah, state Fish and Wildlife, Save Lake Sammamish, Boy Scout Troop 366, Issaquah High School Roots and Shoots Club, King County Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife have been spending numerous hours to protect and restore Lake Sammamish kokanee.

"The Lake Sammamish kokanee are one of six native populations in the state, and last year we had a total return of less than 50 fish back to the streams to spawn," Taylor said. "There used to be tens of thousands of these fish, and our goal is to get back to those numbers."

The last known spawning areas of native kokanee are Lewis Creek, Pine Lake, Ebright Creek and Laughing Jacobs Creek. This specificpopulation has been overrun by urbanization and development as well as water quality, predation and competition among other fish.

In past years, state Fish and Wildlife planted about 25-million Lake Whatcom kokanee fry into Lake Sammamish.

"We had a genetic study done in 2006, and found no genetic trace of those planted fish," Taylor said. "In other words you can't fix a problem by throwing other fish into the lake. They won't survive and only the native fish will take, which makes them more special."

An early run kokanee stock in Issaquah Creek was declared extinct in 2001.

"We have a petition with U.S. Fish and Wildlife to get them an Endangered Species Act protection, which we filed in July of 2007," Taylor said. "These fish have merit, and it is under review and we should have a decision hopefully by end of this month."

Taylor says over the past three years they have completed three Eagle Boy Scout projects as part of the lake's kokanee restoration.

"We had a Boy Scout working on an Eagle Scout Project [last month] who helped clear a blockage in a stream which wasn't discovered until last April," Taylor said. "That may have contributed to the fish not returning to the stream."

"We also have students from the Issaquah High School Roots and Shoots Club work on clearing invasive plants and helping a native plant restoration project upstream. We like to work with kids to get them involved. They are the future stewards of all that we do. The kids we have worked with are awesome."

Groups are also working on a kokanee supplementation program, and are doing hatchery work to see if they can get more fish to survive.

Other projects include trapping and counting out migrating kokanee fry. One of the biggest projects in terms of funds spent is acoustic tagging of adult kokanee to track their movements.

To help pay for this, Taylor started the fundraiser "Adopt-A-Fish" program

Those who donate $100 will get a picture of their native kokanee, and get updated statistics on their movements, where it was caught and information about its life history. A $300 donation will alow the person to accompany the research crew on a trip to help collect and tag the fish they're adopting. To find out more, go to www.tu-bi.org.

Even though Taylor's job career has moved him across the country, he made sure that all their hard work wouldn't end after his departure.

"A couple of years ago I started to work hard to make sure things would continue with the program," said Taylor. "It takes more than one person to win this fight. I have met a lot of great people and kids on this wonderful project."

Each of the six finalists who are featured in this month's magazine will receive a $5,000 grant toward their conservation projects.

The finalists will be honored in a gala on Oct. 21 at Washington D.C., where one will be named Field & Stream Conservation Hero of the Year, and awarded a new Toyota Tundra truck.

Details: www.fieldandstreamextras.com/heroes/videos.php?year=2009.

Notes

• The Steelhead Trout Club of Washington meeting is 6 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Orient Express Restaurant south of Safeco Field on 4th Avenue So. in Seattle. Andy Appleby of state Fish and Wildlife will discuss Hatchery Reform. Details: 425-941-1148.

• The Seattle Rifle and Pistol Association hunter sight-in is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. today. Cost is $5. The club is located at 725 135th Ave. S.E. in Snohomish. Details: 360-659-9362.

• The Mountains to Sound Greenway tree planting kickoff event is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 17 at Lake Sammamish State Park. Volunteers are welcome to attend. Details: 206-812-0122 or www.mtsgreenway.org/volunteer.

• The Wholesale Sports Outdoors Outfitters in Federal Way is hosting a beginning fly casting class 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Oct. 18. Class is hosted by Darrel Martin, a certified Federation of Fly-Fishers, Cost is $50. Details: 253-835-4100.

• The Orvis Store at 10223 N.E. 10th St. in Bellevue is hosting some fly-fishing seminars on Oct. 17 at 11 a.m. FFF Certified Casting Instructors Craig Koeppler; John Olson, Pat Peterman and Bo McDirmid will offer free casting lessons; at noon and 2:30 p.m., Ryan Harder will sing and play an acoustic blues set; at 1 p.m. Steve Apple, a movie producer of "Hustle and Fish" and "Fishizzle," will be on hand; at 3:30 p.m., Eric Rathbun and Brian Bennett, will discuss their Web site www.MoldyChum.com. On Oct. 18 from 1-4 p.m., Don Simonson, FFF Casting Board of Governor, will be on hand to analyze your fly casts. Details: 425-452-9138.

• Cape Disappointment State Park and the Columbia River Maritime Museum are celebrating the Graveyard of the Pacific Weekend Oct. 24-25 at Cape Disappointment State Park and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Details: 503-325-2323 or www.crmm.org.

• The new nonprofit Cascade Musky Association is looking for members. Cost is $25 or $35 for a couple/family membership. Details: www.cascademuskyassociation.com or www.wafish.com.

• The Washington Fly Fishing Club meeting is 5:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month at the Seattle Tennis Club. Please RSVP to attend meetings. Details: www.WFFC.com.

• The Mount St. Helens Institute offers a free Sunday Hiking Program in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, now through Oct. 25. The hikes range from easy to difficult, and are 4 to 10 miles round-trip. Space is limited and reservations are required. While the hikes are free, a $5 donation is suggested. Details: www.mshinstitute.org.

• The Western Bass Club meets every third Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Kennydale Hall in Renton. Details: www.westernbassclub.comor www.nickbarrfishing.com.

• The Washington Trails Association offers statewide trip reports and trail conditions. Details: www.wta.org.

• The Northwest Fly Anglers offer various public classes through the year. The public also is invited to club meetings on the third Thursday of each month, at the Haller Lake Community Center, 12579 Densmore Ave N., in North Seattle. Details: 206-684-7524.

• The Emerald Sea Dive Club offers year-round activities, including the big buddy program and weekly and monthly dives. The club meets on the first Wednesday of every month, 7-9 p.m. at Alfy's Pizza, 4820 196th SW in Lynnwood. Details: 425-775-2410 or www.emeraldseadiveclub.org.

• The Seattle Audubon Society offers field trips and classes every month. Details: 206-523-4483 or www.seattleaudubon.org.

• Northend Bassmasters is accepting new members who want to learn more about bass fishing. The group meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Crystal Creek Cafe, 22620 Bothell-Everett Highway (Canyon Park) in Bothell. Details: 206-789-4259 or e-mail Gary Millard at glmillard@comcast.net.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com

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