People of PAS

The following Herald Tribune article highlights PAS member Don Bayes.
Everett, Washington

Published: Sunday, February 8, 2015, 12:01 a.m.

Creek in Stanwood gives kids hands-on salmon lesson
By Mike Benbow, Special to The Herald
It started in 1980 when Church Creek in Stanwood was the first to join Snohomish County's fledgling Adopt a Stream program.

Don Bayes, an agriculture and environmental science teacher in the Stanwood School District, joined the program because he thought the creek would be a great teaching tool.

In the early 1980s, Church Creek was hurting from runoff from farms and residential development. The creek's watershed covers about 13 square miles, mostly in the Stanwood district. One of the school's first projects was to plant creekside vegetation. Farmers were then encouraged to install fences and to build bridges to keep cattle from walking in the stream.

Egg boxes were built to increase fish stocks.

Bayes is retired now, but teacher Chris Carlson has taken over a program that has ingrained itself into the school district's science curriculum. An estimated 350 to 400 students use the creek each year in a variety of classes. Bayes said it's particularly helpful that the creek is near many of the schools, so students don't need to climb onto buses and engage in expensive field trips to get there. In most cases, they just walk to the creek from their school.

The students do regular insect surveys to study the creek's health, test water quality, and check water flow through the seasons.

The community and student efforts have helped the creek, which connects with saltwater and has runs of coho salmon, sea-run cutthroat, and even a few chum salmon.

In recent years, the coho run has grown to as much as 1,400 salmon counted in fish traps. There have been similar numbers of sea-run cutthroat. Last fall, there were only around 430 coho, but Bayes said it was likely due to problems in the ocean, not in the creek.

And there are now a few chum also returning in late fall.

“The chum run had been gone for several years, but with the (Stillaguamish) tribe's help, we had several dozen come back last year,” said Bayes, who still volunteers in the program. 

Late last month, two classes from Cedarhome Elementary School put chum eggs into metal boxes that had been embedded into the creek and lined with rocks.

The eggs were from chum salmon in the creek that the students had helped collect and fertilize. They were held by the Stillaguamish Tribe at its Harvey Creek Hatchery.

Tribal biologist Kip Killebrew has been involved in the project for years, helping to restore spawning chum and teach kids about salmon. He used the recent event to teach the young students about the importance of clean water. He also showed them how the river had carved a new channel in recent rains, likening its movement to that of a snake.

He said the students take pictures at specific locations to chart how the creek has changed through time.

The students were each given a handful of eggs that they placed in the rock cages.

“The kids get to see the egg-laying process from the beginning to the very end,” Bayes said.

© 2015 The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA