2021 June Newsletter

Letter from our president, Jeff Wirtz

Greetings to all our Foundation friends,

Summer has started off with historic triple-digit temperatures. While we can’t attribute any one weather event solely to climate change, these are times we’re reminded of the dire consequences of our changing climate. In the Pacific Northwest, we know warming temperatures contribute to things like the spread of diseases and pests, reduced snowpack, and warming waters. The interconnectedness of our ecosystems is why species such as salmon – and the orca that feed on them – are at risk.

Climate change is a global issue that demands bold action from government leaders around the world. However, our local actions play a profound role as well. Our conservation work to promote healthy streams and old-growth forest throughout the Rhododendron Preserve is connected to the health of ecosystems throughout the Salish Sea region and beyond. In fact, we’re working on an exciting new partnership to elevate that work on a national scale. We’ll share more details later this summer, so stay tuned.

Finally, congratulations to the Washington Association of Land Trusts for a successful 2021 NW Land Camp last month. The Foundation was proud to be a leading sponsor for the event which brings together hundreds of conservationists and land trust partners. You can check out the Foundation’s virtual booth here.

Stay healthy and well.

— Jeff Wirtz
President, Keta Legacy Foundation,
also known as Mountaineers Foundation


Within its spiny exterior, Devil’s Club is full of fascinating surprises

It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out where Devil’s Club, or Oplopanax horridus in Latin, got its name. This plant is armed to the teeth. The stem is densely packed with spines and both the top and bottom of its leaves are coated in spines too. It’s not a plant that you want to tangle with unless you are well protected with heavy gloves and thick clothing.

devils club plant

Yet for all its prickly self-defense mechanism, Devil’s Club is a surprisingly useful and fascinating plant. In traditional Native American medicine, it has been used to treat arthritis, tuberculosis, cancer, wounds, fever, stomach trouble, cough, colds, sore throat, and pneumonia. It is also used for emptying the bowels and causing vomiting, as well as treating lice and even as a deodorant. Western herbalists and pharmaceutical researchers are studying its properties for treating diabetes by regulating blood sugar.

On our Rhododendron Preserve, there is a stand of Devil’s Club adjacent to the trail along Lost Creek. Standing on the trail, you’re able to study this plant’s defenses up close. It’s fascinating to observe Devil’s Club through the seasons, from the naked spine covered stalks in winter to the early growth of spring, the white blooms in early summer, the bright red berries of late summer and early fall, and to the yellowing leaves of autumn when the leaves fall. While greatly loved by bears, the bright red berries are considered poisonous to humans. We invite you to visit the Preserve and, from a safe distance, meet this fascinating plant.

— Katha Miller-Winder
Education Committee Chair


We Are Puget Sound provides an awe-inspiring experience and call to action

A recently opened photo exhibit at Seattle Aquarium called We Are Puget Sound provides visitors an exquisite look at our region’s beautiful, but endangered ecosystems. The exhibit is based off a book and campaign launched in 2020 that, as described by Washington Environmental Council, “features captivating photography and stories from around our region designed to spark collective and personal action to restore Puget Sound.”

Importantly, the campaign centers the voices of those who are most closely tied to the historic and ongoing preservation of Puget Sound, particularly the Native American Tribes and First Nations who have ancestral ties to the coastal lands and water.

The Foundation has frequently partnered with Braided River, the publisher of We Are Puget Sound, and is proud to support this campaign and this exhibit, which is open through August. You can learn more and preview some of the beautiful images on Seattle Aquarium’s website.


New online resource page will soon offer everything from scavenger hunts to videos

The Foundation’s education committee loves making outdoor education fun and inspiring. We’re always looking for ways to inspire learners of all ages to become good stewards of our air, land, and water. Some of the resources that we’ve created take kids outside, including scavenger hunts, Preserve bingo cards and Family Field Trip Learning Adventures. Other resources bring the outdoors in, including matching games and videos.

nature preserve bingo card

Now, we’re focusing on making outdoor education more accessible. For years, we’ve worked with local schools and community groups to offer these resources, and we want these resources to be available to everyone. Our committee is creating a new online page where educators and families can download any or all of our learning activities. As kids begin their summer vacations and parents look for ways to keep them curious and active, we hope these indoor and outdoor learning adventures spark a love for the outdoors and the healthy ecosystems that we all depend on.

We’ll share the link soon on our Facebook page. Keep an eye on it and help us spread the word with your educator friends and outdoor-loving parents.

— Katha Miller-Winder
Education Committee Chair


Upcoming events and reminders

  • Reminder: The 2021 Kitsap Kids’ Directory parks & trail challenge is still underway and it’s a perfect time to start exploring! The Foundation is proud to be supporting this effort to encourage families to visit all of Kitsap County’s parks and trails. Check out the details here.
  • A remarkable new outdoor film and exhibition called Whale People: Protectors of the Sea is coming to Vashon Heritage Museum on July 10. The film explores how Native Nations are leading efforts to protect the Salish Sea and the orcas and salmon that call the sea their home. The exhibition and IMAX-style film are narrated by the late Chief Tsilixw Bill James of the Lummi Nation, Lummi Master Carver Jewell James, and Amy Ta’ah George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation. This program is organized by The Natural History Museum and co-sponsored by the Vashon Heritage Museum, Se’Si’Le, Vashon Nature Center, and Vashon Center for the Arts. The Foundation is humbled and honored to also help support this event. Learn more here.