2022 December Newsletter

Letter from our president, Jeff Wirtz

Greetings to all our Foundation friends,

Happy New Year! For all of us at the Keta Legacy Foundation, also known as Mountaineers Foundation, we hope you had a relaxing holiday season with family and friends.

The Foundation is gearing up for another busy year of planting and planning with big visions for the Rhododendron Preserve. It’s exciting to see the work that we continue to do with your support to make the Preserve a more inclusive and welcoming space for visitors, school field trips, and the many other events and happenings throughout the year.

I am excited to report a new project underway, which I talk about in detail in this newsletter. But, in short, our ability to provide school bus parking and plan for more space to host and welcome guests is something that we are excited to share – and we’re excited to have you be part of it!

We were also reminded recently of the critical role the Preserve plays in supporting and enhancing healthy wildlife habitat. The Preserve and Hidden Valley abut the Central Kitsap Greenway, which is an important wildlife corridor.

I’m so proud of all the good work that we are doing, with your help, to leave a legacy of conservation and open space that adds to community vibrancy and the health and well-being of humans, animals, and the planet. I hope that you enjoy this newsletter.

Stay healthy and well,

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


 Clearing the Path for Growth

I’m very happy to report that the demolition work on some property that the Foundation acquired on Seabeck Highway Northwest was completed in December. It was a big job, but the space and improved access for visitors that it provides made it well worth the effort.

It took a lot of planning and hard work to remove the blue garage, little yellow house, and all remaining garbage on the property. The Foundation now has 1.3 acres, or an area about the size of a football field, worth of land along the west side of the highway. This additional space will allow the Foundation to have easier access for school bus parking with the goal of constructing a welcome center in a couple of years.

The first picture shows the sheer amount of garbage on the site when we purchased it last summer and the other shows the scale of the demolition work and size of the property. But the work is not done. We plan to reseed the bare areas this spring and further naturalize the site as time goes on and our plan for the overall space comes into focus.

It’s amazing how much we have achieved in 2022 and all that we have ahead of us. Your support made all of this work possible. Thanks so much!

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


Connection to Critical Wildlife Corridor

Every now and then, we get some information about the Preserve that makes the work that we do both come into focus and have a greater purpose. One such piece of information is that the Preserve borders the east side of the Central Kitsap Greenway, an important wildlife corridor.

The green square on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather forecast map to the right shows approximately where the Preserve is relative to the rest of the greenway.

According to the website, the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Department acquired the 331.94 acres of land in Central Kitsap County, which ties together approximately 15,000 acres of managed open space lands. It provides the key link to an identified north-south wildlife corridor by purchasing the last key large parcels in an urbanizing area, just one and a half miles from Bremerton’s city limits. Additionally, the purchase will preserve a prime wetland and headwaters of Chico Creek, which is the most productive salmon stream in Kitsap County, producing as many salmon as all other streams combined.

You may recall the restoration work that we completed on Chico and Wildcat creeks on the Preserve last fall, removing old debris and concrete left behind from the original homestead. We also have projects underway to restore the forestlands back to old growth, which is critical to ensuring clean, cool water and healthy wildlife habitat.

The parks and recreation department expects bobcats, bats, squirrels, otters, band-tailed pigeons, pileated woodpeckers, Rufous hummingbirds, willow flycatchers, downy woodpeckers, Wilson’s warblers, golden-crowned kinglets, salamanders, toads, snakes and pond turtles will benefit from the preservation of the greenway.

As we continue our restoration work on the Preserve, it’s gratifying to know that we are supporting the overall health of our region in the process.

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


Earth Day Ideas

Although Earth Day isn’t until April 22, the Foundation’s Education Committee likes to plan ahead. We believe Earth Day is an important day that allows us to focus on what we can do for the planet that is our home. Before the pandemic, the Foundation had an Earth Day teach-in for students from South Kitsap High School where we would bring in people from the Environmental Protection Agency to talk to the students about their jobs, environmental issues, and how to heal environmental ills. We hope to return to that model this year with the possibility of having people from the Kitsap Conservation District join us.

This year we’d like to do more than just a teach-in event. We’d like to widen our reach to connect with a broader, more diverse audience. As the Education Committee chair, I’ve been considering what that might look like and looking for inspiration. Sometimes inspiration comes from unexpected directions. I have a Little Free Library and recently found a young adult novel by James Patterson that someone had left in it. The book was about a 12-year-old genius named Max Einstein and her genius friends at the Change Makers Institute. The Change Makers Institute works at tackling the big issues facing our world. There are currently four volumes in the series. In the latest volume, the kids look at how they can address the issue of climate change.

One of the things that struck me about the solutions the kids brainstormed in the book is that because climate change is a global issue, a lot of the solutions are huge undertakings. When the solution is presented as reducing carbon emissions by a significant percentage by a future date, it doesn’t seem like something that the average person can accomplish. However, if a solution is for people to choose one day a week to not drive, or to institute a meatless Monday, plant a tree, or to paint their black roof white, all things make the seemingly impossible actually possible for the average person. Ordinary citizens making small personal changes can have a big effect on the climate.

The Education Committee is going to be looking at ways that we can encourage people to take the personal actions that they can as part of our Earth Day celebration this year. We’ll be brainstorming ideas in the next few months and strategizing how we can most effectively encourage people to make their own commitments to fighting climate change. If you have ideas and want to share them with us, you can email your suggestions to education@ketalegacy.org.

— Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee


Upcoming events and reminders

  • Stay tuned for information on when and how to apply for the Foundation’s 2023 Community Grants.
  • Earth Day, Saturday, April 22nd, 2023
  • GiveBIG Campaign, April 17th-May 5th, 2023