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Fish Park on display during salmon tours

POULSBO — There was a salmon tour on Saturday at Fish Park, but apparently the chum and coho didn’t get the memo.

Despite the lack of fish swimming through the head of Liberty Bay into Dogfish Creek, biologist Paul Dorn said the area is a good example of how the City of Poulsbo is working to improve habitat for fish and other wildlife.

“There hasn’t been enough rain to allow fish to swim back up the estuary,” Dorn told visitors as he guided them under Lindvig Way near Liberty Bay Auto Center.

Instead of a bridge which allows salmon and other fish to swim freely up the bay, a culvert used to create a choke point during their annual migration, he said. However, former city engineer John Stephenson was instrumental in the construction and design of the bridge in 2003.

Salmon aren’t the only fish to have benefitted from the bridge’s construction, either, Dorn said.

“We’ve seen northern anchovy here for the first time in a long time and they thrive in an estuarine environment,” he said.

The two-inch fish are an integral part of a salmon’s diet as they are rich in oils and nutrients, he said, noting that the smaller fish depend on the shallow waters of the bay for protection from predators.

As efforts to improve the habitat continue, more wildlife will begin to take advantage of it, Dorn said.

Members of the city’s tree board are doing their part to bring native vegetation back to the area, said tree board president Joan Hett.

“We’re doing this with all native plants to show how it can be done,” Hett said.

Volunteers are helping expedite the natural progression by removing blackberries, Scotchbroom and other non-native plant species, Hett said, noting that the tree board has a strong commitment to the project.

Even though numerous work parties have already resulted in many improvements to the area, there is always room for more, Karl Ostheller told the group of about 30 touring the park.

“Every third Sunday from 1-4 p.m., we have work parties here and we’re always looking for more volunteers to get involved,” Ostheller said.

As secretary of the Poulsbo Noon Lions Club, Ostheller said his driving interest in the project is service to the community.

“This is a great project to get involved with,” he said.

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