2022 October Newsletter

Letter from our president, Jeff Wirtz

Greetings to all our Foundation friends,

As we head into the holiday season, we have so much to be grateful for this year, not the least of which is our ability to safely gather in-person with family and friends again.

It was heartwarming to see so many of you at the Fall for Fish fundraiser last month. After two years of virtual events, gathering together was truly special. We are always humbled by your incredible generosity. Fall for Fish was started in 2017 to celebrate all that we do throughout the year and to raise much-needed funds to make improvements at the Rhododendron Preserve and allow the Foundation to continue to preserve, inspire, and educate.

We are also grateful for the many hands and helpers that have done so much to improve the Preserve over the past year – from the new bridge across Wildcat Creek to the new pavilion that will be an incredible educational and gathering place for many years to come.

Finally, I am so grateful for our hardworking board at the Foundation. Fall for Fish, field trips, and reforesting efforts are all possible thanks to these incredible volunteers. They give so much time and attention to the Foundation throughout the year.

It energizes me to see the strides that we’ve made together on the Preserve and in the lives of so many children and organizations that benefit from our little corner of the world and our community grants program.

Be sure to watch your email or mailbox for the Foundation’s annual appeal letter. Your gifts allow us to plan projects for next year and beyond. And, don’t forget, Giving Tuesday is Nov. 29th.

This edition of the newsletter celebrates you – and all that you allow us to do at the Foundation. I hope you enjoy reading all that was made possible because of amazing partners like you.

Stay healthy and well,

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


Hidden Valley Project Milestones

It has been quite a year, capped off with several important project completions at the Preserve in October. We covered a lot of ground – and uncovered a lot of ground – on the Preserve over the summer and fall.

If you haven’t seen the new pavilion, we’re incredibly excited to have that project completed after years of planning and fundraising.

As part of this project, we removed the rest of the old homestead buildings. The structures were unsafe and beyond saving, so they had to be demolished. The ability to use Hidden Valley as part of our ongoing work to engage with schools, community groups, and others was paramount as we build on our forest and stream restoration work and environmental stewardship education in Hidden Valley.

Another milestone was the bridge replacement over Wildcat Creek. As many of you know, the bridge was listing due to high water events over the years. We now have a sturdy bridge for big and little kids alike to enjoy a walk in the Preserve.

We also completed the decking around Big Tree this fall. A favorite spot on the Preserve, the decking will protect the root system of the tree and make sure that it remains healthy for years to come.

Finally, we worked with Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) to reroute the trail to Big Tree, ensuring that the Preserve’s only public trail can remain safely open for people wanting to explore a piece of Kitsap County’s remaining lowland virgin forest. The WCC also removed invasive species at the Preserve and reseeded parts of Hidden Valley disturbed by construction work.

The completion of these milestones, and so many more that are included in our annual letter, is only possible because of your support. Whether you give your time or your treasure, your support means more opportunities for us to share the value of land and waterway stewardship with our community.

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


Making a Difference

Fall for Fish was a tremendous success! Not only were we able to gather in-person for this year’s event, but we were also able to celebrate all the exciting work in Hidden Valley and announce our Chico Champion for 2022. We were excited to name all of our fabulous donors as the 2022 Chico Champion. It was our generous donors that made all the work that we’ve done in Hidden Valley and on the Preserve possible.

We were pleased to have Frank Curtin, a soil conservationist/forester with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service, speak at the event. He shared the work that he and his team do across the Kitsap region as part of their Conservation Stewardship (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Programs (EQIP). The Foundation has worked with Frank and his team to apply for funds to start on the planned forest health and wildlife habitat work at the Preserve over the next five years. Frank’s presentation and my opening presentation will be available on our YouTube channel soon.

Unfortunately, Christine Upton, the Communications and Information Director for the Old Growth Forest Network (OGFN), was unable to attend our event as planned. Instead, one of our board members, Mindy Roberts, delivered Christine’s presentation on OGFN and their work to recognize, preserve, and guide the public to old-growth forests across the nation.

Our board worked extremely hard this year to build an event that was sustainable. Nearly all our auction items were environmentally friendly, upcycled, and/or as waste-free as possible. Here are some examples of our auction items:

● A kayak trip for two.
● A pinecone wreath created with gathered cones.
● Bird houses built from reclaimed materials from the old homestead in Hidden Valley.
● Several environmentally friendly baskets with different themes: personal care baskets including such things as bamboo toothbrushes and toothpaste tablets; kitchen baskets with sustainable replacements for single use projects including such things as silicone stretch lids that replace plastic cling film; and home baskets with wool dryer balls and toilet paper made from sustainably grown and harvested bamboo.

Crescent Moon Catering provided a fabulous farm-to-table, family-style dinner. Utilizing local caterers that provide local, farm-fresh foods ensure a strong local economy, less carbon output for products, and a connection to the land and the food that we eat. Everyone agreed that it was a wonderful meal.

It takes a lot of effort to build a thoughtful and successful event. Congratulations to the entire Foundation team and board for their hard work and a big thank you to everyone who joined us to make it such a success and a wonderful time to connect with one another.

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


Beaver dams – friend or foe to salmon?

The Foundation is one of the organizations that has been asked to help get the word out to the public not to breach beaver dams in a misguided effort to help salmon. That request brought to mind this newsletter article that we published in October 2021. We thought that we’d share it again with some updates and video links at the end.

True or false? One way to help salmon pass through streams and rivers is to break through beaver dams to open a passage. On the face of it, this seems like a no-brainer. Dams block the flow of water and create a barrier to salmon, so knocking a hole in the dam would help them. Right?

Think again. People tend to take a simplistic view of systems and only focus on a single aspect, but nature takes a macro view of how all the pieces work together. People see salmon stacking up behind a beaver dam and think that the dam is an impediment to salmon getting upstream to spawn, but look again. What you see is nature stacking salmon up behind a beaver dam because there isn’t yet enough water in the creek to provide the right conditions for salmon to successfully spawn.

When a creek system has enough water to create successful spawning conditions, the water will deal with the beaver dam. The water will either blast a channel through the dam that allows fish to swim through the dam or the water will overflow the dam and create a hurdle for salmon to leap over. In the latter case, the salmon crashing onto the dam as they try to hurtle it will actually pack the dam tighter in that area which improves conditions even more for the next salmon.

When humans knock holes into beaver dams, it actually harms salmon. The sudden rush of the dammed water gives salmon the false impression that there is a substantial amount of water upstream and encourages them to advance when they should wait instead. These salmon arrive at their spawning grounds and spawn, but in water that is too shallow. When the torrential rains come later and the creeks swell, the rushing water scours out the redds (the depressions female salmon make in the gravel to safely deposit their eggs) and washes away the eggs. When salmon wait until the creeks are swollen with water to spawn, they select more stable areas to build their redds and the eggs are more likely to stay put as a result.

Be a salmon friend and let nature do what it does best. Leave beaver dams to nature and don’t disturb, damage, or destroy them. The natural system knows how to deal with beaver dams, and it doesn’t require our help.

Since publishing the above article, I’ve learned that in addition to packing dams down to create a channel, female salmon will also take turns digging a tunnel through a beaver dam when necessary. The salmon will use the same motion used when digging a redd and when the tunnel is through the dam, each subsequent salmon passing through it will further enlarge the tunnel. Nature is amazing. Salmon and beaver have been successfully coexisting for millennia. Humans don’t need to involve themselves.

If you’re interested in learning more about salmon and beaver, check out the many resources here, here and here (narrated by Amy Lawrence, Foundation board member and Professor at Olympic College).

The relationship between salmon and beavers is a wonderful example of natural systems at work. We don’t need to interfere.

— Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee


Upcoming events and reminders

  • Mark your calendar for Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29th, 2022.
  • 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