Author Archives: Rick Baker

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Accomplishments 2015

Salmon Enchanted Evening Invitation Highlights 2015

Research
Smith and Minor Island Aquatic Reserve
We are facilitating a Community Science Research/Outreach Program in Whidbey Island’s own Aquatic Reserve. Funded by the Department of Natural Resources, the study investigates the effect recreational harvesting has on the largest Bull Kelp Forest in the Puget Sound.

Smolt Count
Completed Smolt Count in the Maxwelton Watershed. May is the month we set up a sluice box in the stream and collect, count, measure and release the young Coho yearlings as they begin their trek to the sea.

Restoration
Freeland Wetland Preserve
WWS took full ownership of the Freeland Wetland Preserve early in 2015. Next step, work-up a comprehensive restoration/outreach plan. So far we know that restoration will inform outreach which will include lectures, guided hikes, hands-on educational experiences which will instruct the participant of the methods and science of restoration.

Wetland Wednesdays
Kicked-off our summer/fall education series, Wetland Wednesdays, at the Freeland Wetland Preserve which enriches participants’ knowledge of the science of restoration and informs them of available opportunities in the future.

Robinson Beach
Reinstated by Island County for another 3-years as stewards of the Robinson Beach County Park. We have removed most of the scot’s broom and planted shore pines. We are planning another planting later in summer, early fall.

Education

Youth leadership
Salmon in the classroom program linked with year-long Outdoor Classroom Field studies

Professional Development
K-7 teachers through WWS Environmental Education Programs

Langley Middle School Marine Science

Six-month oceanographic time series by 6th and 7th grade students at the Langley Marina collecting oceanographic data investigating the relationship of the living and non-living elements of the ecosystem.

In the classroom 7th graders analyzed their ocean data working with visiting oceanographers from University of WA, NANOOS & Orca Network. Culminating oceanographic cruise out of Langley collecting, analyzing and interpreting data with the UW experts!

Science Day
Coordinated 23 local scientists share their expertise with K-5 students—Students’ favorite day of the year!

President’s Message

Presidents Message, Dec 2014

We are winding down quite a wonderful year for Whidbey Watershed Stewards, a year full of possibilities, a few changes and, as always, amazing support from our volunteers and contributors. We welcomed three new members onto the WWS Board at the beginning of the year, Cathie Vincent, Marie Bergstrom and Amy McInerney- each bringing a wealth of skills and enthusiasm to our organization. John Worthington, past-president and long-time Board Member stepped down from the Board and hopped off-Island and onto new adventures. Thank you, John, for your incredible service.

Our stewardship of Whidbey’s wild places grew this year, too. The Friends of Freeland, a wonderful group of dedicated Freelanders, entrusted WWS with the beautiful 40 acre Freeland Wetland Preserve on Newman Road. Wander on over sometime- there is parking available (thanks to Rotary for that!) and a meandering trail that takes you down to wetland where the wildlife abounds! While in the area check out our work at Robinson Beach in Freeland- over the past couple years WWS and a cadre of volunteers rid the beachfront of many non-native species, including piles of Scotch Broom. Whew.

WWS’s research efforts continue from the tip to the tail of Whidbey- with projects on Smith and Minor Island as well as all around the South End. Robin Clark, our intrepid Lead Researcher completed a tremendous restoration project in the Maxwelton Valley, turning an old farming homestead back into wild lands and giving many species of birds and beasts a new home. Toward the end of the summer Robin, too, skipped off Whidbey and is now braving Seattle’s concrete jungle. Thank you Robin, for all your incredible work and your continued guidance.

Lori O’Brien, our Lead Educator, and Rick Baker, our Executive Director, created a year-long, standards-based marine science program for Langley Middle School’s 6th and 7th grade scientists. You can read more about this program, now in its second year in a front page article published in the South Whidbey Record on November 29th, 2014. (http://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/news/284024441.html) Additionally, the elementary school programs at the Outdoor Classroom continue to see an increase in participation, from local schools as well as a number of other Districts! Lori even has the South Whidbey Elementary School scientists raising salmon at the school that they then release into local streams in the spring.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who promotes WWS through volunteering, contributing and spreading the word about this vital organization. Thank you for your support. We could not do what we do without you!

Sarah Boin, President WWS

Thoughts from the Executive Director

Appeals Letter Sent Dec 2014

Dear Friends,
It really wasn’t an explosion, there wasn’t even a bang. It was a rapid expansion of space, that is, when the universe first “banged” into existence. Whidbey Watershed Stewards is experiencing our own “bang” and we are reaching out to you to say – we need your help.

This whole “bang” issue stems from a decision the Board made to enlarge the organization’s reach, increase participant numbers, expand our school program to include middle and high school students, do more public outreach, more research. Well, it is said, be careful what you wish for. Whidbey Watershed Stewards, to its credit, has realized many of its goals. We are very excited about the new developments this past year but we are stretched to capacity and really need your support to sustain these important programs.

We recently accepted a 40-acre wetland as a donation from Friends of Freeland called the Freeland Wetland Preserve. Our goal is to restore it, finish the hiking trail, build a bird blind and use the site as an educational platform developing new outreach programs to deliver to the public. The possibilities are endless; opportunities with new partners have surfaced. Eventually we want to turn it into a park with a wetland education center. We are beyond excited about this project and we really need your help.

Our two new 6th and 7th grade oceanography programs challenge students to develop a hypothesis, design and build scientific sampling equipment, collect and process data and communicate the results back to the group. A 5-month long, student-driven research project allows young scientists to find their own answers to questions centered on the general ecologic health of the Salish Sea. This program, a partnership with the SW School District, meets all state STEM* criteria preparing students with the 21st Century skills they will need to succeed in the future. We need your help.

It has come to light recently that there is a mysterious dark energy that has been fueling the expansion of the universe. Scientists have no idea where it comes from, what it is, how it works or its purpose. This dark energy is growing, speeding up the universal expansion, to what end, no one knows. Whidbey Watershed Stewards does know its purpose and where we are going. We also know where support for our expansion will come from — You. That’s where it has always come from for the past 20 years. We have grown a lot over the years and still have dreams, lots of goals and most importantly a vision of leaving the next generation with a healthier Salish Sea. It’s important to keep the momentum going, continue these important programs that support education, restoration and research and ultimately our fragile, threatened environment. We love and appreciate having you on our team,

Sincerely,
Rick Baker
Executive Director

* STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)

Highlights – Research, Outreach and Restoration

Research, Outreach and Restoration 

  • Smith and Minor Island Aquatic Reserve:
    As of January 2014 we are shifting our efforts away from the forage fish survey and going to concentrate on a research/outreach program centered around the kelp harvesting within the Reserve. Our Citizen Committee will be meeting in the next few months to create the program. Let us know if your interested, we are looking for more volunteers. Stay tuned as we protect our Aquatic resources!
  • Help for Whidbey Shorelines:
    WWS continues to work with ECO-Net, a collaborative of like-minded organizations a group supported by the Puget Sound Parternship to encourage participation in efforts to save Puget Sound to develop and deliver programs that inform the public about WI shorelines. This winter we are building relationships, building awareness with the community through events and by giving presentations. If you would like a presentation at your month meeting or event about ECO-Net please let us know. Also making plans for next spring — Earth Ocean Month. Let us know if you want to participate!
  • Maxwelton Water Quality:
    WWS is continuing to work with Island County on an educational outreach program to improve water quality in the Maxwelton Watershed. Our objective is to open the shellfish beds once again in Useless Bay.
  • Restoring Wetlands:
    Private stewardship properties:
    Dalzell Wetland Restoration – Installed habitat log piles and perch poles, removed drainage tiles to restore wetland hydrology, and planted over 2,000 plants. This winter we install 4,000 more plants! Join us!
  • Assessing salmon viability:
    WWS is continuing the spawning survey and smolt counts in Maxwelton Creek.
  • Technical Advisory Support:
    We supported development of the Shoreline Master Plan, Fish and Wildlife Critical Areas update and the Salmon Recovery Program. There is a lot of hard work behind the restoration and protection of our community resources.