Author Archives: Amy McInerney

Honored at Thriving Communities

The Whidbey Watershed Stewards organization was honored to be highlighted by Thriving Communities in early 2016. 

Please enjoy the wonderful video they created to tell our story.  Share it far and wide, because as Thriving Communities says, “the ripples of energy and connection of hope and action throughout our bioregion and beyond has a catalytic effect.” 

Whidbey Watershed Stewards from WhidbeyTV on Vimeo.

Salmon Enchanted Evening: Many Thanks!

Many thanks to Ted Ravetz for an intimate Salmon Enchanted Evening at his Maxwelton Valley garden home! Music by Levi Burkle, hand crafted Midnight Kitchen hors d’oeuvres, Ott & Murphy wines, remarks by the lively Dyanne Sheldon, a delicious Janet Hall Pie Auction, and delightful guests combined for a memorable evening!




Where are the Whidbey Watershed Stewards Working?


As of September 2015, Whidbey Watershed Stewards is the proud steward for six Whidbey Island properties. Please read below for a more detailed description of the long-term goals, activities, and locations of each site: 

The Lower Maxwelton Roadside Property

This small parcel of land is in the lower valley of Maxwelton Creek, lying to the east of Maxwelton Road and just west of what had been the creek’s main channel. Sloping from the county roadside down to what was once a tidal marshland, the site provides a good vantage point for views of the lower valley and its seasonal flows of wildlife.
Acquired by private gift in 1996 from Joseph Miller [ to Chums of Maxwelton ]. Whidbey Watershed Stewards hosts restoration events in attempt to return the vegetation to its most biologically stable state. 
Lower Maxwelton Roadside Property

The Lower Maxwelton Roadside Property

Old Clinton Creek

This property was purchased by the Old Clinton Creek non-profit organization for $5,000 in 1994. Whidbey Watershed Stewards acquired the property from OCC upon its dissolution in 2010. 
Old Clinton Creek, made up mostly of nearby residents, bought this irregular parcel in 1994. It holds a rare year ‘round stream, hidden at the bottom of a brushy ravine. The 19th century estuary at the stream’s mouth was completely eliminated by residential shoreline development, 
as our current parcel’s boundaries were drawn by the placement of other lots around it  — both along the flatter ground below and along the upper edge of the creek’s ravine. An excerpt from OCC’s 501(c)(3) application in fall 1995 further describes the property: 
The property purchased by the association early in 1995 had been surrounded in recent years by expanding development around the town of Clinton, Washington. In contrast to the adjacent area, it retains natural vegetative cover and is a rich environment for native species diversity. It contains a small stream flowing into Puget Sound, an associated wetland, and the slopes on either side of the stream. The initial impetus for the association’s formation was the fact that this property had been placed on the commercial real estate market, and appeared to be in danger of losing its natural character through subsequent development or cutting of the mature trees along its edge.
It is the belief of the association’s Board that the action of preserving ecological function in sensitive and environmentally rich areas is of inherent value …
Old Clinton Creek Property

Old Clinton Creek Property

Freeland Wetland Preserve

The Freeland Wetland Preserve is an open space of approximately 45 acres located east of Freeland, WA near Newman, Double Bluff, and Scott Roads. In 2014, the Friends of Freeland, a local non-profit, donated this area to the Whidbey Watershed Stewards with the intention of conserving the area forever as open space for public education and passive recreational enjoyment.  The area consists almost exclusively of wetlands, providing a natural habitat for plants and wildlife.

Native species of wetland and riparian plants dominate the property. The Whidbey Watershed Stewards intend to protect the diverse native plant community from competition by invasive species through specific removal of these invasive species. No removal of native species or intentional alteration of the hydrology of the site is to occur. This area serves as an important habitat for bird, mammal, and amphibian species.

Whidbey Watershed Stewards maintains The Freeland Wetland Preserve property as public open space and conservation property. No alterations to the site will occur with the exception of those intended to protect public safety (dangerous tree removal), or restoration activities (invasive plant removal, replanting).

Freeland Wetland Preserve

Freeland Wetland Preserve

Freeland Wetland Preserve Entrance from Newman Road

Freeland Wetland Preserve Entrance from Newman Road

Robinson Beach

In April 2013, Whidbey Watershed  Stewards adopted the Frank D. Robinson Beach Park off Mutiny Bay Rd (on Robinson Rd). Our first goal was to remove all the noxious weeds and plant, encourage native plants to “retake” the park. In the first year we removed most the large Scot’s Broom and immediately saw many of the natural plant life reestablishing its claim to the beach. Recently, we planted some shore pines and are continuing to remove undesirable plant-life as it appears. Volunteer work for the beach park occurs every couple of months. E-mail if you want to get the notices.

Robinson Beach

Robinson Beach

The Outdoor Classroom

Since the opening of the Outdoor Classroom in 1997, Whidbey Watershed Stewards has presented a steady program of K-5 lessons in spring and fall sessions. Each lesson is aligned with grade level learning objectives and is developed and guided by our staff. We have grown and adapted our lessons over the years, and continue to improve and meet the needs of teachers and students.

The self-guided trail at the Outdoor Classroom site is open to the public year-round. We only ask that you respect the nature preserve and not disturb the wildlife and plants. Please have your dog on a leash while you walk, and pick up poop. The trail and boardwalk platforms are wheelchair accessible. A brochure at the information kiosk explains the viewpoints and the watershed system. Comments can be left in the kiosk mailbox.

Outdoor Classroom-2 Outdoor Classroom -3Outdoor Classroom

Smith & Minor Island Aquatic Reserve

Smith and Minor Islands (S&M) lie a few miles off the western shore of Whidbey Island near Oak Harbor. The Islands exist within the 36,300 acres of tidelands and seafloor habitat of the S&M Islands Aquatic Reserve which are managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Aquatic reserves are zones of the seas and coasts where wildlife is protected from damage and disturbance and are widely promoted as a means of fostering biodiversity, achieving more natural population structures and managing exploited fish populations. DNR has establishing aquatic reserves throughout the state to protect important native ecosystems. It is an effort to promote the preservation, restoration, and enhancement of state-owned aquatic lands that are of special educational, scientific, or environmental interest. As part of this effort DNR created the Aquatic Reserve Citizen Science Program which consists of partnerships between non-profit organizations like Whidbey Watershed Stewards and DNR at each of the seven Reserves. Lots of opportunities to do research, outreach, work side-by-side with researchers. If you’re interested e-mail to get the notices.

A research quadrant.

A research quadrant.

Smith & Minor-4

Smith & Minor-3

Spring at the Outdoor Classroom

                    Rufous_hummingbird_female Poecile-atricapilla-001  Saltmarsh_sharp_tailed_sparrow

The forest is awakening with the sound of bird songs and spring blossoms!  This spring the Outdoor Classroom theme is Birds in the Ecosystem.  Along with visiting students we will be exploring the important role bird’s play in the ecosystem. Spring training for volunteer instructors is scheduled for Wednesday, April 13th from 9:00-2. You don’t have to be an expert just be willing to share your love of learning with young people! Our goal is to increase student awareness and inspire them to consider the positive impact they can make on the environment. Here is a glimpse our spring activities: 

  • While exploring the trails students will compare the forest habitat, meadow habitat and stream habitat. They will consider how birds use the components of each habitat and how birds support each habitat.
  • Students will investigate different bird beaks and determine the relationship between a bird’s beak and the type of food they eat. Students will contemplate how specialized beaks are an advantage and disadvantage to a bird’s ability to survive.
  • Students will discover why birds build nests, as well as the methods and materials they use to construct their nests. Students will experience the complexities of nest building.
  • Students will demonstrate their learning by designing and creating imaginary birds that include adaptations to help them thrive in their environment. Students will describe what advantages of their designed bird and how their chosen design elements help their bird thrive in its habitat.

The Golden Acorn Award!

We’re very proud to announce that Whidbey Watershed Stewards’ Education Coordinator Lori O’Brien, who runs the Maxwelton Outdoor Classroom, was acknowledged by the South Whidbey School District’s three Parent Teacher Student Associations (PTSA) recently.

“Lori has helped raise and educate this whole school district,” said LMS PTSA President Shawn Nowlin in an email. “When we gave her the Golden Acorn Award, she was telling me about seeing the high school seniors and realizing that she has taught them from preschool at Trinity (Lutheran Church) all the way through to school graduation.”

We are so grateful to Lori for her outstanding dedication to environmental education! 

Click to read the full South Whidbey Record article

Salmon Poems

These poems were written to the salmon by the school children who had raised them. Many were shared on the shore as the salmon swam off:

Their scales shimmer bright

First the river then the sea

Brightly colored orange


Shiny silver scales

Amongst your darting tail fin

Beautifully you swim


I watched you grow up

and now you’re freedom is near

Goodbye my fish friend


Beautiful salmon

listen close in the forest

Salmon swim, swim, swim


Salmon swim softly

Peaceful, quiet and hungry

Patient to find prey


Salmon we watch grow

Swim up the stream now, freedom

See you soon, small friend


Thank You to Native Plant Stewards!

Whidbey Watershed Stewards (WWS) wants to send a huge thank you to the Native Plant Stewards of Whidbey Island for donating native plants. Whidbey Watershed Stewards owns or manages several properties where we are trying to reduce and or remove invasive plant species such as scotch broom, black berry, English ivy, and replace them with native plant species that will provide better habitat for wildlife. The Native Plant Steward’s donation will help us in that endeavor!

Whidbey Watershed Stewards will be holding regular stewardship days where we will be
removing invasive plants. If you are interested in helping, let us know and we will contact you about volunteering.

LMS’s Oceanography Research Project

Thanks to a generous grant from the Tulalip Tribe this school year, the South Whidbey 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders have been participating in an Oceanographic Research Project in the Langley Marina.

Students regularly attended the Langley Marina from November through May for hands-on science lessons! Students collected water quality samples and investigated pH, temperature, salinity, and clarity. Each field expedition was followed by a classroom lab during which students analyzed their data.

Grade Level Curriculum Targets 
5th Grade Salmon in the Ecosystem
6th Grade Plankton Populations and Environmental Stressors
7th Grade Ocean Acidification
8th Grade Identifying Systems in a Marine Environment

Students leaving Langley Marina for their boat-based exploration.

IMG_6204 IMG_6228 Here are some quotes from the LMS 7th Grade Students who participated:

“The 7th grade of Langley Middle School went to the Langley Marina to board a boat. The boat traveled to three points in the Salish Sea to collect data on pH, temperature, salinity, and clarity of the water… The experience was great even for me, and I get seasick often! Learning hands on isn’t only a way to get out of textbooks, but a more memorable experience.” – Jefferey J.

“I got to go on a boat to learn about our Salish Sea. It was so much fun and educational. I feel like I learned a lot more on the boat and at the marina than I would have in the classroom. I personally learn better hands on and I can remember it better, too, if I can see and touch it.” – Sarah C.

“Before this program I had never been on a boat, ever heard of dissolved oxygen or salinity, let alone have a clue of what pH was, or ever had the privilege of ever seeing marine life. Thanks to this program I learned and got to all of this in less than a year!”  – Jonathon E.

  “I have learned so much about Marine Biology throughout the year. For me, our hands-on learning is so much better than reading it out of a textbook. Last Friday on the boat, I learned that a CTD is a machine that you drop in the water and it collects a lot of data about the water quality. CTD stands for conductivity, temperature, depth. I would never have remembered that if I read it out of a book, but I actually used a CTD on the boat and it was really fun. We also used two different kinds of plankton nets on the boat. One was to catch phytoplankton, and the other was for zooplankton. The things we do are interesting to learn about, but amazing to actually do ourselves. It is a huge honor to be able to do these things.” –  Annika L.

“I was very thankful for all the work we were able to do this year on oceanography in science class. My favorite part was when we went on the boat and were able to use all of the scientific equipment. I really liked how on the boat we were able to use the equipment and it was like a real-world situation for future use. It was really cool that we had the privilege to learn about oceanography and use the scientific equipment and learn more about our local marine environment.” –  Mallory D.

“It’s not all the time that you get an opportunity like this, especially when you have a college professor as one of the teachers. He didn’t talk down to us like kids. He talked like we were adults and that helped me learn even more.” – Aaron D.

“I think this is important for LMS students to be educated about because it is teaching youth how and why we need to take care of every part of our environment, even if you think it may not affect you.” – Hanna D.

“I think field-based education is important to us for many reasons. One reason is that it teaches us (7th grade students) about real life problems happening right around us. Another reason is that we can hear information from experts, which will lead us into thinking about getting a degree in ecology.” – Karyna H.

Kelp Harvesting Adventure

April 20th

Rick’s Excellent Kelp Harvesting Adventure!

The Aquatic Reserve Citizen Science Committee continues to meet monthly as we develop our ecreational Kelp Harvesting and Outreach Project working side by side with the DNR. The program launches in May so we are in the process of collecting and building equipment like quadrats, tripods, scales and at meetings continue to discuss protocols for our kelp research and strategies for communicating our message of sustainable practices to our harvesters. As I have mentioned in previous newsletters there is very little precedent for this project. The good news is its exciting to be foraging new ground and the bad news is its hard to shake the feeling your designing a program in the dark.

A few weeks ago I glanced at the calendar and realized it was April 20, one of two days in the month with semi good (but not great) minus tides (-1.3 feet) so I decided to grab some of our new equipment and head down to the Aquatic eserve and try my hand at kelp harvesting. My first time as a kelp harvester, I arrived at low tide. My first stop was at Libbey d and to my surprise I saw six harvesters down at the kelp line. (common knowledge Is that no one harvests until -2 ft tide or lower which first occurs late May) I quickly donned my boots, grabbed my quadrat, scale, bucket, knife, license and hat. There was a small 1 to 2-foot swell which made it difficult to harvest the kelp within the quadrat with the boots I brought to the beach (Yes, I got my socks wet). Also, I remembered you have to add weight to your quadrat so it’s more stable in water. I harvested some Alaria and another type of algae that I later identified as feather boa. I made a mental note that the kelp line didn’t seem to extends much passed the low-tide line so calculating the total area of harvestable kelp may not be as hard as we thought.

About a half-hour after low-tide the other harvesters were done and hanging out at the bottom of the stairway to the parking lot with their booty. I walked toward the stairs with my bucket of kelp and stopped to talk. I didn’t see any blatant evidence of over harvesting. They were friendly, wanted to look in my bucket and they spoke very little to no English. They did seem to understand what I said in English. I asked them which kelp they were the most interested in and it was definitely the laria and the bull kelp (Nereocystis). I got the impression that the feather boa I had in my bucket was definitely not a desired algae. One woman spoke some English and ask me how I prepared the feather boa, she offered, in a salad? I gave her a nod and they all smiled quietly, at that point realizing that I was a novice. I got back to my car, drove up W. Beach d. and checked out the other sites. I observed no other harvesters.

Its amazing how just a little bit of information can shine so much light on our project. I feel better about how our outreach program will be received and back in my garage I have already adapted our equipment so it will be more user friendly and help us get the reliable results in our data we are aspiring too. Stay tuned, more to come.
If you are interested in attending our committee meetings everyone is welcome. Next meeting is on: May 18th at; 6:30p, at:

Coopeville United Methodist Church
608 North Main Street
Rick’s cell – (949)726-2713
Rick’s email –

There is a door on the back of the church (basement level). You will see a rock keeping the door open. Photo Apr 20, 12 57 56 PMPhoto Apr 20, 12 45 12 PMPhoto Apr 20, 12 38 42 PMPhoto Apr 20, 1 00 00 PM

May 14, 2015

Our pre-training last week went extremely well. We had biologists Betty and Leal on-site and I know I learned a heck-of-a-lot about kelp and kelp harvesters. We mainly worked on our research technique and strategize our rationale. We practiced using our quadrats, Kelp ID, setting up equipment, etc. At one point, Leal and I went over and chatted with a group of harvesters. One spoke English and they were all very forthcoming with information. The whole day was very enjoyable. As I was driving home I starting to think just how much we still have to learn about kelp and the people who harvest kelp. 

July 9, 2015

Another successful day for the Kelp Harvesting/Research/Outreach Project. There was a complete dearth of harvesters last Tuesday, not one in sight, weather was not a factor this time as it was an absolutely spectacular day on the beach. Betty and I noticed that the Alaria and Saccharina (our two most harvested kelps) looked awful, not very appetizing. The kelp had a very friable, slimy quality. At some point during the summer growing season kelp breaks down introducing nutrients back into the ecosystem. Could be we reached that point in the cycle and the harvesting season is over. We will see! We are getting so efficient getting the data for the kelp growth/abundance study that we finished early completing all the quadrats at (-1 foot) and (-2 foot) tide levels. 

July 16, 2015

I saw this article and had to pass it along. Funny, we were all munching on kelp at our data collecting site last Tues. I think bacon flavored kelp just might turn me into a serious kelp harvester! Anyway, our kelp study has concluded, to all those who worked so hard to make it a success, a hearty THANK YOU! You will me hearing from me soon about next steps in the Aquatic Reserve. Rick

Kelp Project Ends at Smith & Minor Island Aquatic Reserve
We completed our kelp study this month at the Smith and Minor Island Aquatic Reserve (SMIAR). We are still analyzing the data and I will report back to you on those results later this Fall. Looking back, one of our greatest accomplishments was the creation of this unprecedented study. There have been kelp studies over the years but none that I could find that focused only on kelp harvesting and attempted to assess impact of a specific human activity on a specific habitat. Our team created and refined from scratch all the research protocols and data sheets for both the science and social aspects of the study. Remember, this habitat nourishes forage fish, schooling fish, rears juvenal salmon, supports avian populations, invertebrates, just to mention a few. 
Also, I was really gratified by the close partnership that formed between WWS, Department of Natural Resources (DNR)  and Island County MRC. We all pulled together to accomplish a relatively difficult task by pooling our resources and expertise. I know that our program participants learned much from the expertise present supporting our project. We all learned a lot about kelp, human behavior, research techniques and communication. 
On a personal note, I know I learned the most by just showing up every few weeks and watching the kelp evolve through the spring from rapidly growing (several feet a day) — maxing out on the productivity scale… to its more humble state, last week, literally melting, decomposing — introducing important nutrients back into the ecosystem. Somehow, when I witness first hand these type of natural cycles in nature I feel more connected.
Thank you everyone who participated, Rick
More research at SMIAR coming this Fall. If your interested in getting involved or getting more information, send me an email and I will at you to that list. 

Design Our New Logo!

Whidbey Watershed Stewards is dreaming of a new logo- are you the one who will design it for us?!

We seek a creative, straightforward, descriptive new logo design that is recognizable and promotes our organization. Please read below for more details regarding our logo design, this contest’s rules, and submission requirements.

How to Enter our Logo Contest

The contest runs May 1, 2015 through June 1, 2015. After directly contacting the contest winner by e-mail, WWS will announce the winner through our e-newsletter, website and other social media platforms.

To have your logo designed considered for this contest, please

  • Submit your entry to with a subject line of “Logo Contest”
    • Include your name, e-mail address, mailing address, and phone number in your e-mail
  • Submit your entry in its original source file, high resolution .pdf and .jpeg
  • Submit entry in color and greyscale

About WWS

Whidbey Watershed Stewards is a 501c-3 organization providing watershed education, restoration, and research on Whidbey Island. Our slogan is “Connecting water, land, wildlife and people.” We provide elementary and middle school field experiences at our Outdoor Classroom in the Maxwelton Valley and at the Langley Marina. At our Freeland Wetland Preserve we host educational talks for adults and children. Our restoration properties include Robinson Beach in Freeland and the Miller Property in Maxwelton and the Old Clinton Creek. We are currently developing and completing a kelp foraging research project in the Smith and Minor Island Aquatic Reserve in Central Whidbey Island.

For more information on our organization visit:

Logo Requirements


  • A simply designed and clean logo that is recognizable, easy to remember and cost conscious in printing.
  • Easily reproducible
  • Design remains crisp in variety of sizes (widget to poster, pencil to t-shirt) and formats

Main Symbol of Logo:

  • Prefer geometric or abstract symbol(s)
    • Symbols representing the watershed such as land, water (fresh/salt), native plants, terrestrial animals, birds, fish

Exact Text:

  • Text not necessary in symbol, but required in logo design
    • Text can appear below, above, around, etc., the symbol
  • Prefer for organization name “Whidbey Watershed Stewards” in text, but “WWS” acceptable


  • Sans Serif preferred
    • Suggestion…100% Free downloadable font options available on

Logo Colors:

  • Simple earth/water colors- blues, greens, browns
  • Limited colors- remain cost-conscious in printing and reproducing
  • Avoid color gradients

Contest Details

Whidbey Watershed Stewards Board and Staff will select the winning logo submission. Our winning contestant agrees that Whidbey Watershed Stewards may publish their logo and name and may use both for advertising campaigns and/or marketing materials in the future.


Contest winner will receive

  • Recognition in WWS e-newsletter, on our website and our social media platforms
  • $100.00 cash
  • Bragging rights!

More detailed rules and expectations…

  • WWS reserves the right to extend all deadlines associated with this contest to ensure receipt of a sufficient number of entries.
  • Logos cannot contain copyrighted material. YOU, as contestant, must create and edit your logo submission. Logos may not include previously published images of licensed images.
  • WWS may alter, modify, or revise the logo as it sees necessary to achieve its promotional goals, and may use any of the submissions in future promotional campaigns.
  • The winning contestant agrees to bestow all ownership rights, including all intellectual property rights to the logo, to Whidbey Watershed Stewards.