Help for salmon

ARLINGTON – Fifth graders from Pioneer Elementary School are helping salmon recover on Krueger Creek one shovelful of dirt at a time.

“I think it’s really important to help the streams, and erosion and stuff,” said Alana Thompson, an 11-year-old volunteer tree-planter. “I also think it’s fun to come outside sometimes.”

Michael V. Martina / The Herald

Many hands make light work for Sedric Nady, 10, and his friends from Pioneer Elementary School in Arlington as they plant trees along Krueger Creek in Arlington.

Alana was one of 22 fifth-graders from Rebecca Engle’s class who helped plant 220 trees along the banks of the tiny stream that wends through the Jensen dairy farm in the heart of Arlington.

Eleven-year-old classmates Emma Sandman and Berkeley Leavitt teamed up with Alana on a recent Friday, planting their share of trees while also getting a hands-on education on how nature works.

“Oh, look, a worm,” said Alana, dropping her shovel to get a closer look.

“Eww. You touched it with your bare hands,” chimed in Berkeley.

Emma carefully set the worm aside, and the trio went back to digging.

Alana explained that the tree will be happy now that it finally gets to put down some roots. “It’s been sitting in the pot for such a long time.”

The willingness of the students to plant trees and pick up trash found in the stream will go a long way toward helping the stream become a healthier place for young salmon to grow, said Cara Ianni, volunteer coordinator for the Stilly-Snohomish Task Force, which organized the planting session.

“These are really good kids,” Ianni said, looking over the hustling kids competing to see who could plant the most trees. “They’re going to come back here in high school and these trees are going to be bigger than they are.”

“I’ve planted about 10,” said Sedric Nady, a 10-year-old, who’s number was immediately questioned by one of his classmates. “I planted some when you were over their playing in the stream,” Sedric fired back.

Many of the kids rushed off to see a fish skeleton that someone found in the water. As they peered into the shallow water to get a closer look, the students were surprised to see young coho salmon swimming around the bones.

“Now they’re seeing little tiny coho in the stream,” said Bill Blake, Arlington’s environmental coordinator, who said the lessons learned about the fish’s cycle of life will stick with the kids for the rest of their lives. “It keeps them jazzed.”

Each year since 1995, students from the surrounding schools have help make Krueger Creek more suitable for salmon, Blake said.

“We did see more coho adults come back last year than I’ve ever seen,” Blake said. “We’re putting all the pieces together. We’re starting to see some of the critters come back.”

Logan Seybold, 11, was happy to see the newest generation of fish thriving in the stream.

“I like taking care of the environment,” he said.

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