May 17 event to highlight local efforts to save salmon

  • Fri May 9th, 2008 10:59pm
  • News

On May 17, the agency with what is arguably the most awkward name in State Government – the Lead Entity – will sponsor a Salmon Recovery and Lead Entity Day celebration at the Deer Harbor Community Club on Orcas Island.

The celebration begins at 10:30 a.m. with live music, a kid’s camp, field trips, a few speeches, and lunch.

Billy Frank Jr. of the Nisqually Indian Tribe will deliver the keynote speech. As Chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission for 22 years, he “speaks for the salmon” on behalf of 19 Treaty Indian Tribes in Western Washington. Frank has been described as a visionary, fishing rights activist, institution builder and bearer of traditional wisdom. He is a recipient of the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism.

The Kid’s Camp, presented by the San Juan Nature Institute, will include activities for kids ages 5-12.

Orcas Island musicians Sharon Abreu and Michael Hurwicz will perform their song “Calling the Salmon Home.”

Afternoon field trips will include walking and boat tours of the Deer Harbor Estuary, led by staff members of the San Juan County Lead Entity, People for Puget Sound and KWIAHT.

Lunch will be catered by the Orcas Village Store, and free shuttles from, and back to, the Orcas Ferry Landing and the Deer Harbor Marina will be available.

The serious purpose behind the celebration is to call attention to the need to protect the islands’ waters that host an abundance of the fish that spawn in rivers up and down the west coast of Canada and the United States at critical times in their lifecycle.

The Legislature established the Lead Entity program in 1998 in response to the decline of Pacific Coast Salmon. The 28 Lead Entities around the state were charged with coordinating a hodgepodge of local and regional salmon recovery projects and gathering the scientific knowledge to identify the most pressing needs. The San Juan County Lead Entity for Salmon Recovery has been in operation since 2000.

San Juan County’s Lead Entity has helped win more than five million dollars in federal, state and private grants to finance salmon recovery projects. It has established strategies for protecting and rebuilding habitat and set priorities for implementing them in San Juan County’s watersheds, shorelines and marine environment.

The May 17 Lead Entity observance will be the first such celebration – a time not only to call attention to the work of the Lead Entities, but to the importance of San Juan County’s waters in ensuring the survival of the creature that in life and art, symbolizes the Northwest.

More information on the Salmon Recovery / Lead Entity Day celebration is on the web at www.sjcmrc.org/salmon.