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11 March 2009

Come Back, Salmon: How a Group of Dedicated Kids Adopted Pigeon Creek and Brought it Back to Life

Written by Molly Cone; Photographs by Sidnee Wheelwright

Jackson Elementary School is located near the mouth of Pigeon Creek in Washington’s Puget Sound. Before the town grew into a proper city, Pigeon Creek was home to pigeons, native plants, and Coho Salmon. By 1986 only trash and called Pigeon Creek home. The students and teachers of Jackson Elementary School wanted to change that. It took them many months and diligence to clean Pigeon Creek. When the city wanted to build a storage facility near the mouth of the Pigeon Creek the students wrote letters against the plan.

Once they cleaned the creek, the students began to raise 1000 salmon eggs in a large aquarium. The entire school took charge of making sure the salmons survived. When the salmon was large enough they were released into Pigeon Creek. No one knew for sure that the salmons would return. But everyone continued to keep the creek clean and when it came time for salmons to spawn, they monitored the creek for salmons. Finally in 1988, two years after the first salmons were released, twenty-three salmons were spotted in the once polluted Pigeon Creek. The salmon came back.