2022 February Newsletter

Letter from our president, Jeff Wirtz

Greetings to all our Foundation friends,

Small signs of spring are starting to emerge, and I’m feeling very hopeful that 2022 will be full of the many things we’ve been missing the past couple years. I’m especially excited that student field trip requests are starting again, and volunteer work parties will be coming back. Having a few extra hands over the summer will be helpful as we start implementing our new management plan.

The Rhododendron Preserve is a fantastic place to volunteer or learn. If you’re part of an organization that is interested in volunteering or you’re an educator looking for a unique outdoor education experience, we’d love to hear from you. Please email us and we’ll work with you to offer service projects or learning experiences that fit your specific needs.

Also, we’re getting ready for April 19th, the day that Kitsap Great Give provides the opportunity for you to give to organizations and causes that you support. If you’d like to support Keta Legacy Foundation, also known as Mountaineers Foundation, your donation will help fund our many preservation and outdoor education efforts and partnerships.

Thank you, as always, for your support and interest in our work. We appreciate you.

Stay healthy and well,

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


Take a deep breath…

We all know that going out in nature is good for us. The Japanese have a practice called Forest Bathing that is predicated on the health benefits of simply spending time in the forest away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Many studies have shown how being outside in the natural world helps children with ADHD to be more focused and relaxed. Washington’s governor and physicians have even experimented with programs to prescribe time outdoors for patients – so-called “parkscriptions.”

There’s no doubt that being outdoors is good for our mental health. Try this quick test.

If you’re reading this sitting inside with your phone or on your computer, quickly write down the first three words that come to mind that describe how you’re feeling. Now go outside and stand by a tree for sixty seconds. Then write down the first three words that you think of to describe how you feel outside.

Your indoor words indoors are more likely to include things like tired, bored, trapped, stressed out, confined, or blah. Your outdoor words are more likely to include things like happy, free, space, awake, or alive.

Being in a forest has physical health benefits as well. It’s not only the physical exercise that you get walking in a forest, but also the benefits of the very air that you’re breathing. You’ve probably noticed how much better the air smells in the forest than it does in the city. In fact, that’s one of the most frequent comments we’ve heard from students visiting our Rhododendron Preserve on field trips. “It smells so good out here.” “This is great air.” “How come forests smell so good?”

The answer is simple. Trees breathe in the carbon dioxide that humans and animals exhale, and they also breathe in and trap pollutants, virus particles, and pathogens. Trees literally clean the air and return pure clean oxygen. In hospitals when someone is struggling to breathe, doctors administer pure oxygen to help them breath and to keep the patient’s cells oxygenated. But we don’t have to wait until we’re sick and struggling to breathe to enjoy the benefits of pure oxygen. We can visit the forest where the trees have been cleaning impurities from the air and returning oxygen for us to breathe.

In these days that seem like a never-ending pandemic, we encourage you to go to visit the Preserve and take a deep breath. Doesn’t it smell great?

-Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee


Norman L. Winn, an extraordinary life well-lived

Norm, who passed away in January at the age of 82, was a long-time trustee for the Mountaineers Foundation. He was a mentor to many of us presently serving on the Foundation Board and to many of those since retired from the Board.

He was an important voice on the Board of Trustees, passionate about conservation and the Foundation’s role in supporting environmental organizations that worked throughout the Pacific Northwest. He was instrumental in helping transfer the Rhododendron Preserve property to the Foundation. As a member of the Grants Committee, his expansive knowledge helped steer the committee toward important granting opportunities.

Norm is very much missed by us. We welcome you to read about his extraordinary life in this Seattle Times story or this touching obituary.

-Nancy Neyenhouse
Vice President


Scat, scat, where’s it at?

Poop, doodoo, caca, doody, feces, four-letter word, scat; whatever you call it, most of us don’t like to think about it. We flush it away, scoop it, bag it, or wrap it in a disposable diaper and throw it away. But to wildlife biologists and enthusiasts, scat is an incredible source of information.

The shape, consistency, and size of the scat can tell you what kind of animal was there. Where an animal deposits scat can indicate where they feel safe and have paused to rest or to mark their territory. The presence of scat also identifies an area to which the animal will likely return. If you’re planning to mount a wildlife camera, look for scat.

Scat can also tell you what the animal is eating. Biologists will study scat from an animal population over the course of a year or more to learn how the animal’s diet changes with the seasons and where the animal has traveled recently. A more detailed analysis of the scat reveals clues about the animal’s health and can even provide a DNA sample for that specific animal.

The next time that you see some scat on the trail, see what clues you can piece together. But be careful not to inhale any of it, and only pick apart scat or pellets with a stick or disposable gloves! Some diseases may be contracted by inhaling dust-borne particles. It’s best to stay upwind.

Here’s some more scat-sleuthing advice from Nebraska Extension in Lancaster.

When you break apart the scat, take note of hulls of seeds, skins of berries and bits of leaves. This suggests the animal is an herbivore. Small bones, fur and feathers appear in the scat of carnivores. Insect wings and other insect body parts tells you the animal feeds on insects. Some animals — like coyotes — will eat both plants and animals, so you may find scat with the fur from rabbits and the seeds of mulberry fruit.

Think like a biologist and see what clues you can observe in scat.

-Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee


Upcoming events and reminders

  • April 19th: Give to the Foundation during Kitap Great Give!
  • Photo: Salish Sea Orcas and Center for Whale Research
    Welcome, baby J59! In case you missed it, last week we received the good news of the birth of a new calf in the endangered J Pod. The actions that we take to provide cool, clean waters for salmon here at home have profound impacts throughout the Salish Sea region. It’s one way we can help ensure a sustainable food chain for our southern resident orcas as they struggle to survive the increasing challenges related to climate change and regional development.