What’s up with those ‘fish crossing’ signs?

Deer Crossing signs alert motorists to be on the lookout for reckless ruminant mammals.

But Fish Crossing signs?

Those had Herald multimedia ad consultant Jennifer Nolan asking me, “What’s up with that?”

“It’s not some handmade/homemade sign, either,” Jennifer said. “It’s an official road sign: Fish Crossing. Can you tell fish where to cross? Do they listen? More importantly, do they comply?”

Good questions, Jennifer.

You know, I’ve seen those signs in Lake Stevens and other places around the county, and always thought they were, well, fishy. It’s not like fish are going to dart across the road without first looking both ways.

Turns out, there is a method to the seeming madness.

It’s all about fish awareness. Letting people know there are fish in their midst.

“The signs inform people this is an important rearing ground for fish as well as other things fish feed on,” said Peggy Campbell, watershed steward in Surface Water Management at Snohomish County Department of Public Works. “It is to keep the waters clean for all the critters that use the waterway whether it’s fish or not.”

There is a correlation between a willingness to protect water and habitat when citizens are aware of their local water bodies, she said.

“They used to have signs that say ‘Watch for Fish,’ ” Campbell said.

Many newer signs say Salmon Stream. You’ll be seeing a lot more of these and less Fish Crossing signs. New Fish Crossing signs are now only posted by rivers. “Before 2008, these were everywhere,” she said. The old ones stay up until time for replacement.

Is there an unmarked body of water needing a sign? Let Campbell know.

“People can request signs,” she said. “We can only put signs on county roads. We can’t on state roads.”

There are 247 stream signs along county-maintained roadways. Each sign corresponds to a mapped stream that either flows under the roadway or that flows alongside and is visible from the road.

So, Jennifer. There you have it.

Have you hugged a fish today?

To learn more about fish species in your local waterway, go to apps.wdfw.wa.gov/salmonscape.

Send What’s Up With That? suggestions to Andrea Brown at 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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