For the Reporter
Area Boy Scouts joined sport fishing volunteers in steelhead conservation project efforts at Flaming Geyser State Park last Saturday.
Some 20 Boy Scouts from Auburn and Federal Way Troops 336, 361 and 398 joined 15 sport fishing volunteers from the Save Our Fish Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers, and the Green-Duwamish Chapter of Trout Unlimited to prepare two large concrete basins in the park for temporary holding and feeding of some 15,000 juvenile steelhead trout.
The Dick Brice Ponds are intended to support an effort by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Muckleshoot Tribe to restore the wild run of Green River steelhead to fishable levels. The ponds were named in memory of a Trout Unlimited member who had been an important contributor to a pond improvement project completed in 1986.
No recreational or tribal fisheries have been on the wild run in some years.
Brice Ponds, adjacent to the Flaming Geyser pit alongside Christy Creek, at the east end of the park, originally were constructed to hold rainbow trout for a private resort that predated Flaming Geyser Park. State Parks is a long-term partner in the cooperative conservation project with Park Ranger David Pall-Brogan, who helped in last Saturday’s event.
Wyatt Pritchard, an Auburn High School sophomore and Troop 361 member, was responsible for attracting a great turnout of scouts. Pritchard is pursuing his Eagle Scout status, which is expected to include a special project of improvements at Brice Ponds.
The scouts enjoyed aerial filming of the event by Joel Carver, owner and operator of CSI drone and the son of Carl Carver, past president of Save Our Fish PSA Chapter.
Fish & Wildlife will release in 10 days juvenile steelhead into the basins that were filled with water last Saturday. Volunteers will feed the smolts until May 12, when they will be released into pipes draining the pond to lower Christy Creek to continue their journey into the Green River, down to the Puget Sound via Elliott Bay before heading to the Pacific Ocean. Survivors after several years in the ocean will return to the Green River to spawn, helping to sustain a natural run of Endangered Species Act-listed steelhead that has in recent years been escaping to the Green River in a number of only about 2,000 fish, weighing on average about 7 to 10 pounds.
– Frank Urabeck is a member of Save Our Fish, PSA Chapter