2019 Spring News

Board Highlight

The Keta Legacy Foundation, also known as Mountaineers Foundation, has operated for 50 years with an all-volunteer Board of Directors. These wonderful people put the Foundation’s mission into action. They are helping realize our vision of people connecting with and protecting healthy ecosystems.

Jeff Wirtz

  • Has served on the Board for over 3 years and is currently vice president
  • Is passionate about environmental conservation
  • Regularly volunteers at the Rhododendron Preserve
  • Has worked as an environmental scientist for 19 years
  • Has a wide range of outdoor experiences as both an Eagle Scout and Mountaineer

“Just when I think that I have a good understanding of all of the different parts of the Rhododendron Preserve, I explore a different part of it and find some new type of microclimate that I hadn’t seen before. Part of the Preserve are old growth, while other parts are former Douglas Fir plantations, so there is a wide range of ecosystem types to see and learn about.”

-Jeff Wirtz

Jeff adds that he enjoys nothing more than exploring the Rhododendron Preserve as one of his duties as co-chair of the Preserve committee. Sometimes he does so as part of regular invasive species cruises or to monitor the Foundation’s easements with the Ueland Tree Farm, but other times it’s just for the fun of it.

“Taking care of the Preserve requires a lot of hard work,” Jeff states. “We can’t do all the work by ourselves. That’s why I’m so thankful for volunteers and partners who have given us a hand with maintaining the Preserve! With the help of high school and college students, as well as groups like the Washington Conservation Corps, we actively manage the disturbed parts of the Preserve to help restore them to a more natural state.”

Donors Make a BIG Impact

A generous couple, Darly and Laura, made an outstanding donation to the Foundation’s land acquisition fund to create an opportunity to expand the Preserve. We asked our GiveBIG donors to join in the effort. With the combination gifts from Daryl and Laura and our thoughtful GiveBIG donors, we were able to purchase 40 acres of land from the Ueland Tree Farm!

In 2018, Jeff Wirtz took the lead on this land acquisition project for the Preserve. As the contact person for the land acquisition, Jeff dealt with a wide range of professionals over several months. The new acreage was finally acquired in December of 2018. The new parcels add a buffer to the southeast corner of the Preserve and provide additional protection for the Chico Creek watershed.

Generous donors and dedicated volunteers like Jeff made this project possible. We, at the Foundation, want to give them a BIG thank you for protecting the health of the Salish Sea by caring so deeply about land preservation.


Rhododendron Preserve Update

This spring, the Foundation hired the Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) to complete a wide range of projects at the Preserve. The crew did some very tough work! We are thankful for their service in our community!

The crew worked on controlling invasive English Holly. English Holly has taken hold in several buffer parcels in the Preserve tat were previously a tree farm.

The crew also cleared invasive species (mostly Himalayan blackberry and English ivy) from Hidden Valley, rebuilt some of the steps on the Big Tree trail, and treated and created a map of invasive species in the new parcels that The Foundation purchased in December of 2018.

The crew will be back for two weeks in the fall of this year to continue to help with the mapping and removal of invasive species.