Mville gets down to Earth Day with plantings and lessons in city parks

Kip Killebrew, right, holds a five-year-old salmon during the Earth Walk Adventure in Jennings Park April 21. The biologist from the Stillaguamish Tribe was teaching kids about fish and habitat at the Lions Club Pavilion as part of Earth Day activities around town. -
Kip Killebrew, right, holds a five-year-old salmon during the Earth Walk Adventure in Jennings Park April 21. The biologist from the Stillaguamish Tribe was teaching kids about fish and habitat at the Lions Club Pavilion as part of Earth Day activities around town.
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MARYSVILLE Nature lovers, fish lovers and one sewer muskrat made a splash of sorts last Saturday for the this citys first Earth Walk Adventure.
You could say Marysville really came down to earth last weekend, celebrating Earth Day with a variety of community activities and lessons in city parks and the public works plant.
Jennings Memorial and Ebey Waterfront parks hosted several hands-on demonstrations and activities to teach folks about the water cycle and how household chores affect the environment. People could plant trees in Jennings Nature Park, learn about the salmon habitat in Allen Creek and even see fingerlings on their way to their ocean migration.
The city parks and public works departments spearheaded the effort with the help of the Stilly-Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force, REI and others. The Snohomish Conservation District, the Pilchuck Audubon Society and the Tulalip Tribes were a few of the many groups to teach citizens about the fish, fowl, flora and fauna in the many watersheds in Snohomish County. In all more than a dozen organizations were part of the Earth Day events.
Michael Sharpe was amazed at how sharp a King salmons teeth were while listening to a lesson from Kip Killebrew, a biologist with the Stillaguamish Tribes, who was at the Lions Club Pavilion in Jennings Park. Killebrew was explaining the life cycle of the anadromous fish, showing how the adipose fins are clipped from hatchery fingerlings and that scales have rings just like trees, allowing biologists to see how old the fish are.
Erika Sharpe is an 11-year-old who was there with brother Michael and sister Haley. They looked into a tank full of fingerlings from the Tulalip Tribes and Stillaguamish Tribes hatcheries while Killebrew told how hatchery fingerlings are prepped for release into the wild.
We learned how they get a wire put in their nose, Haley said.
Im not sure if its for fashion reasons, quipped Erika.
Actually the wire is encoded and lets biologists know when and where the fish were reared. That helps during research trips to see how salmon are faring in habitat that is constantly under pressure from development.
That was Janice Martins task, as the wetlands biologist from the Jay Group used a spray bottle to show Steven Moore and Sergio Velasco how run-off affects streams and rivers. They drew a map with farms, factories and mountains, and Martin crinkled it up to reflect the geography of the Snohomish River valley. The spray from the water bled the ink out of the paper; as the colors ran down into the creeks on the map, Martin stressed how household pollutants are carried downhill to waterways. That includes the detergents people use to wash their cars. It flows from the driveway to the storm drain and then gets into the water system. Commercial sites dont let that happen, she added.
So everything is connected, Martin said. So you should wash your car at a car wash.
I liked it because it showed how the factory makes the waste, Velasco said. He had a unique way to avoid that. I learned that its best to live at the top of the mountain, not the bottom.
Thats not an option for fish, and they have to deal with everything that washed their way. Martin then demonstrated how soil can get into water, making it murky.
This is turbidity its a measurement of dirt thats in the water, Martin said.
The star of the show was a five-year-old King salmon Killebrew pulled out of an ice chest. He knew it was a wild fish because it still had the adipose fin hatchery fish lack, and by checking the scales he knew its age. Pointing at the fingerlings in the nearby tank, the biologist held up the yard-long salmon.
He went from two inches to 43 pounds in five years, Killebrew said.
Michael Sharpe was amazed.
I thought it was really smelly and it had really sharp teeth and you wouldnt want to get bit by it, Sharpe said. And it was really huge.
For Ann Boyce, the day was a chance to reach out to people and get their attention. The executive director of the Stilly-Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force said she expected about 150 people at the event. She was staffing a booth showing the bad plants and the good, and watched as a hillside in Jennings Nature Park was covered with volunteers planting beneficial trees and shrubs on the eastern bank of Allen Creek.
The whole thing is about learning about your watershed and whats in it, Boyce said. Its allowing them to get connected with the programs.

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