Visitors can learn a wealth of information about the salmon life cycle and watershed stewardship with a host of interactive displays at the hatchery. Below is a sampling of the displays you will see at the hatchery:
The fiber-optics map lights the route salmon take when they leave Issaquah Creek as smolts and when they return as adults. It traces the salmon’s path through Issaquah Creek, Lake Sammamish, the Sammamish River, Lake Washington, Lake Union, the Lake Washington Ship Canal, Puget Sound, the Straight of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean. This exhibit is lighted during the day and off in the evening.
The map was installed in 2003 and funded with a grant from Microsoft Corp.
The hatchery’s native plant garden shows visitors how they can use native plants to grow “salmon-friendly gardens.” Native plants offer a host of benefits; since they require minimal irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides, they can save money, preserve habitat, reduce runoff and keep harmful chemicals out of the watershed.
Pictured: Sorbus sitchensis or Sitka Mountain Ash.
Gilda and Finley, the hatchery’s two coho salmon statues, are arguably Issaquah’s most famous couple. These 8-feet bronze sculptures were created by artist Tom Jay. The salmon’s size is based on fossils of salmon from the Ice Age. Some 5-6 million years ago, such “saber-tooth salmon” existed, measuring up to 10-feet long and weighing up to 500 pounds!
The sculptures rest in gravel, boulders, logs and native plants – perfect salmon spawning habitat. Look closely in those rocks to find replicas of salmonid fossils and petroglyphs that are approximations of coast Salish rock art dating back some 3,000 years.
The sculptures were installed in 1996 and 1998 and funded by grants from the City of Issaquah Arts Commission and FISH. Please refrain from climbing on the sculptures.
The hatchery’s solar panel shows how people can harness the sun’s power. The project is a 1.1 kilowatt solar-electric system and while it is too small to provide the main source of power for the hatchery’s normal electrical needs, the system is grid-tied, so its electricity is part of the overall energy mix used by the hatchery.
The panel is mostly a learning tool designed to introduce hatchery visitors to renewable energy technology and provides them with an opportunity to explore global energy issues in an interactive way.
“Salmon People and Raven” story boulders by Muckleshoot artist Phil Hamilton is a traditional Native American salmon tale etched into a series of stones arranged in a semi-circle.
This display was installed in 2002 and funded with a City of Issaquah Arts Commission grant.
The glassed-in ladder and holding ponds let visitors get nose-to-nose with adult salmon that have returned to spawn. Visitors can watch brightly colored chinook, coho, sockeye and other Issaquah Creek species jump from one level to the next in the ladder. They can also see the salmon in detail in the holding pond, which is the species' final destination before being spawned or released upstream.
The onsite wetland absorbs water that is redirected from the pollution abatement ponds nearby, filtering out any residual sediment and further reducing pollutants that might enter Issaquah Creek. The goal of the wetland is to enhance water quality as well as to provide an educational exhibit demonstrating the value and function of wetlands.
The wetland was created in the spring of 2009 and was sponsored by students from Clark Elementary’s Science/Technology Magnet class, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Water and Land Resources Division, "Small Change for a Big Difference Award,” the Washington State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, FISH, Mountains to Sound Greenway and the Grange Supply.
This exhibit is representative of a typical Northwest stream, much like Issaquah Creek. Visitors can view depictions of underwater life for salmon and vegetation and animals that occupy the salmon’s world. At all times of the year you can see developing salmon. From late September through March Chinook salmon can be observed as they develop from fertilized eggs to fingerlings. In late March they are released into Issaquah Creek to begin their journey to the ocean. From April through January you can also see developing Coho salmon.
The “Can You Beat the Odds” exhibit shows the tough odds salmon face from the moment they hatch to when they return to their home streams to spawn. Visitors can spin wheels and activate other mechanisms to see if they survive the gantlet of predators and hazards that salmon face every day of their lives.
This exhibit was installed in 2000 and funded by a grant from Puget Sound Energy.
“Everything Given to Salmon is Returned” exhibit explains in dynamic fashion how every stage of the salmon’s life cycle is entwined with the ecosystem. It also teaches how the public can help maintain a healthy riparian zone (stream bank), which is so important for salmon survival and watershed fitness.
This exhibit was installed in 2004 and funded by King County.