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July 15, 2017 – Work Party at Freeland Wetland Preserve!

Whidbey Watershed Stewards has big plans to spruce up the Freeland Wetland Preserve, and we need your help!

We had a very successful work party on Saturday, July 15, 2017. Tasks for varying abilities included:

  • Defining the trail through the cedars
  • Building log benches
  • Building small bridges over two drainages
  • Cutting back vine blackberry and nettles 
  • Removing moss from the roof of the barn
  • Tidying the barn patios
  • Re-attaching and hanging new gutters for rain water collection
  • Removing invasive Tansy

Here are some great photos of our work that day: 

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.

Where are the Whidbey Watershed Stewards Working?

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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 rick.baker@whidbeywatersheds.org 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 rick.baker@whidbeywatersheds.org to get the notices.

A research quadrant.

A research quadrant.

Smith & Minor-4

Smith & Minor-3

Wetland Talks Coming in 2017

 
We will be starting up 2017 Wetland Weekend Talks this summer. Like our Wetland Wednesdays series in previous years, these events will include a short educational presentation, and a fun, easy hike or activity!
 
To sign up for Freeland Wetland Updates go to: FW Sign Up
 
June 17, 2017 – Leonard Nachtrieb (postponed)
July 15, 2017 – Dyanne Sheldon
August 19, 2017 – Restoration Project
September 2017 – TBD
 
 WHERE:
The Freeland Wetland Preserve
Near Petosa Corner in Freeland off of Newman Road, 100 yards East of Main St.
 
Watch for the Sign! 
 

Janet Stein discussing noxious weeds at Freeland Wetland Preserve, Summer 2015

 
 
 

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.

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
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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.

An Opportunity to Give

An Opportunity to Give
This spring you have TWO amazing opportunities to help the programs of your Whidbey Watershed Stewards’ to flourish- the WWS Spring Challenge 2016 and Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG! Your financial support blooms even bigger than the individual dollars you gift as there are matching donations provided by others within each giving opportunity!

WWS Spring Challenge 2016

A wonderful group of dedicated WWS supporters is offering this fundraising challenge… donate directly to Whidbey Watershed Stewards before June 1st and they will match your financial gift dollar-for-dollar up to a value of $3500.00!! Support raised through this challenge goes toward our General Education Fund.

WWS projects and programs benefitting from your Spring Challenge financial gift include:

— Maxwelton Valley Outdoor Classroom elementary education classes
— South Whidbey Elementary School Salmon in the Classroom
— Langley Middle School Ocean Acidification program
— Freeland Wetland Preserve Wetland Wednesdays
— Smith and Minor Island Aquatic Reserve Kelp Harvesting Project

GO TO WWS DONATE PAGE

Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG 2016

GiveBIG, the one-day online charitable giving event hosted annually by The Seattle Foundation encourages people to give generously to nonprofit organizations who make our region a healthier and more vital place to live. GiveBIG is a day to support the people behind these organizations, those who work tirelessly to improve the lives of everyone in Greater Seattle with their champion-worthy work. To donate to Whidbey Watershed Stewards through the GiveBIG event visit WWW.SEATTLEFOUNDATION.ORG and search for Whidbey Watershed Stewards. All donations to WWS receive a portion of the Seattle Foundation’s “stretch pool” of matching funds. WWS uses the funds raised through GiveBIG to support our restoration and research work, which this year includes:

— Completing invasive plant removal at Robinson Beach in Freeland
— Replanting with native plants on all properties we steward
— Leading a kelp foraging research project in the Smith and Minor Island Aquatic Reserve

GO TO SEATTLE FOUNDATION GIVEBIG 

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/