Category Archives: General

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 info@whidbeywatersheds.org. 

2015 Whidbey Watershed Stewards – Committee Meetings

Committee Name Committee Objectives Chairperson Typical Meeting Day and Time
Stewardship
  • Assessment and management plan of properties and ongoing maintenance
  • Hosting regular work parties
  • Restoration plan for new and future properties
Lee Chavez TBA
Education
  • 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
Fundraising
  • Identify donors and fundraising opportunities
  • Garner more visibility in the community through outreach and branding
Sarah Boin TBA
Promotions
  • 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. (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.

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: http://whidbey-eco.net/

Wetlands Restoration – Slideshow Test

In September we completed the construction phase of a wetland restoration project on Cultus Bay Rd, at the headwaters of Glendale Creek. Over the next few months we will hold work parties to help us plant native trees and shrubs to complete the restoration. We hope you will join us! Here is the story of the project:

Around the turn of the last century, a wagon road lead to a brushy wetland at the head of the Glendale Watershed. Real estate advertising at the time highlighted how productive this area could be for farm and orchard production, with rich black soils, plentiful water, and the added benefit that the wetland didn’t have the large stumps that were so difficult to remove. Roads were improved, ditches dug and parcels divided, and by early in the century the Jackson family had built a small house. Consuela Jackson is fondly remembered for selling milk and eggs from her homestead into the 90’s. With the clearing and installation of drainage tile, underground pipes to isolate ground water, early farms had quickly became productive, but over the years, these farm soils subsided and drainage became difficult to maintain, making it too wet for farming.


WhenDSCN0407-1024x768 Suzannah Dalzell purchased the land, it was with an eye toward re-creating the productive wildlands that once were found at the head of the watershed. The wetland soils on the property help keep stream flows constant by acting as a sponge and slowly releasing water during dry times. Along with water and cover, wetlands provide critical habitat for much of our island wildlife.

To begin DSCN0402-1024x768to restore this property, and the ecological functions that it had provided, the wetland hydrology had to be re-established. By filling ditches, and removing underground drain tiles, the water now moves through the site much as it originally did.

 

Since thereDSCN0417-1024x768 has not been trees and other woody plants on the property for over a century, we brought in logs to create habitat piles for amphibians and birds.

The addition of this wood will serve the functions of fallen logs until the site begins to produce its own structure as trees grow.

Habitat piles in the wetland

A perch pole near sitting above the wetland

We also installed perch poles to attract raptors and recreate standing structure on the property that would mimic dead snags that would have been present. Aday after the perch poles were installed, raptors began hunting and resting on the poles!

 

The project is on a conservation easement held by the Whidbey Camano Land Trust, and is supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the US Department of Agriculture. Partnerships with landowners, schools and agencies are important elements of bringing communities together to invest in the future health of our island. You can support these efforts by volunteering, supporting local funding sources such as the Conservation Futures Fund, and other policies that support habitat protection and restoration.