Category Archives: General

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


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.

Restoration Work Party – Saturday, March 7

The founder of SkyRoot Farm and Community invites volunteers to join a work party helping to restore a long stretch of creek along Bailey Road that feeds directly into Maxwelton Creek.
They have had some wonderful creek restoration work parties every spring for the past four years and have planted hundreds of native plants with a good survival rate.  This year’s work party is on Saturday, March 7, from 10 am – 2 pm.  Hundreds of plants will be coming in from WICD and other nurseries.
Snacks will be served, fun will be had, and beauty will surround us.  Come spend a fun afternoon restoring the creek near SkyRoot Farm, one of the prettiest places on South Whidbey!
Contact Karen Litfin for more information: litfin(AT)whidbey(DOT)net

2015 Committee Meeting Schedule

If you’re interested in getting involved with the Whidbey Watershed Stewards, we highly encourage you to sit in at a committee meeting that reflects your specific interests. Meetings are held regularly, typically once per month, and are open to any member of the public who has an interest. 

Kindly let us know in advance if you plan on attending, or if you’d like to request specific information about a committee, by sending a note with attention to the committee chairperson via email at 

2015 Whidbey Watershed Stewards – Committee Meetings

Committee Name Committee Objectives Chairperson Typical Meeting Day and Time
  • Assessment and management plan of properties and ongoing maintenance
  • Hosting regular work parties
  • Restoration plan for new and future properties
Lee Chavez TBA
  • Maintain and expand educational programming for kids and adults
  • Identify and create additional teaching sites
  • Build and strengthen education partnerships
Marie Bergstrom 2nd Mondays at 6:30 pm; place TBA
  • Identify donors and fundraising opportunities
  • Garner more visibility in the community through outreach and branding
Sarah Boin TBA
  • Spread awareness of WWS through website, social media, and email presence
Amy McInerney 3rd Thursdays at 4pm; Bayview Taproom

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. ( 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,

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.

Freeland Wetland April 5 9am-12noon

Come help us get our newest South Whidbey Park ready for the public! We are working with Friends of Freeland, and hosting an Earth and Ocean Day event at the wetland, followed by the annual Peace Picture taking at Bayview.

We need to finish work around the new sign kiosk, the parking area planting and trail work. Please come with hand tools – rakes, shovels and loppers are all useful! We’ll be there from 9-12 and can’t wait to show you around the property and get it spiffed up!

Whidbey Econet Website

Whidbey Watershed Stewards is proud to be part of the Whidbey Econet, a group supported by the Puget Sound Parternship to encourage participation in efforts to save Puget Sound. We’ve been building the website to help connect the many organizations and all the environmental events that happen on the island.

For all things happening outdoors, the new budding calendar and information resource at: