WALLOWA LAKE – The second annual Kokanee Festival will celebrate one of Wallowa County’s finest resources – kokanee salmon –with a wide variety of activities geared towards adults and children.

The Kokanee Festival will be held from 11 am to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, in the Riverside Day Use area at Wallowa Lake State Park. Admission is free.

The event, sponsored by the state park and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, welcomes the public to enjoy, view and learn about the kokanee salmon.

The day will include four special technical presentations, music by local musicians, a scavenger hunt, exhibition booths by local and regional organizations, free samples of smoked salmon and kokanee viewing in the Wallowa River.

Kokanee salmon are one of the key components of Wallowa Lake and the Wallowa River south of the lake. Kokanee are land-locked Sockeye salmon, which means the fish do not migrate to the ocean for a portion of their life cycle. Instead, kokanee spend most of their lives in a large, dammed freshwater lake, and use freshwater streams and rivers, like the Wallowa River, to spawn.

Spawning is a unique process in which the female fish lay eggs in a river bottom and the male fish follow to fertilize the eggs.

In this region, kokanee begin to spawn in late August and early September and can be seen from the riversides of the Wallowa River south of Wallowa Lake.

This special biological event spurred last year’s debut of the Kokanee Festival, a celebration of the species by and for Wallowa County residents and visitors.

“The Kokanee Festival is a great opportunity for people to learn about kokanee and sockeye salmon and to have fun with their families and friends at the same time,” says Lindsey Jones, interpretive ranger at Wallowa Lake State Park. “Come join in on the fun.”

The Traveling Lindseys of Wallowa, joined by Duane Vermillyea, will provide musical entertainment during the festival. Food will be available from Appleflat Catering.

During the festival scavenger hunt, participants can win a free boat ride around the lake or other prizes donated by local businesses.

Special technical presentations include the following:

11:30 a.m. – “Sockeye Salmon: Past, Present, and Future” by Becky Johnson of Nez Perce Tribe Department of Fisheries Resources Management. Johnson will discuss the historical importance of sockeye salmon in the Wallowa River system and the opportunity to restore the species in Wallowa River watershed.

12:30 p.m. – “ Traditional Nez Perce Fishing Techniques” by Elmer Crow of the Nez Perce Tribe fisheries. Crow will demonstrate historical and contemporary fishing techniques, including strategies for sockeye salmon, kokanee salmon, and lamprey.

1:30 p.m. – “Birds’ Eye View: Live Raptor Program” by Lynn Tompkins of Blue Mountain Wildlife, Pendleton. Tompkins will show several birds of prey, discuss raptor biology (including the significance of spawning salmon to birds of prey) and explain rehabilitation of injured birds.

2:30 p.m. – “Watercraft Inspection and Decontamination for Aquatic Invasive Species” by Bethany Parker and Matthew Coleman of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. They will demonstrate how to clean boats and boat trailers in order to remove invasive aquatic species, which can “hitchhike” from one water body to another on un-cleaned boats, thereby spreading an unwanted plant or animal to other areas.

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