2022 September Newsletter

Letter from our president, Jeff Wirtz

Greetings to all our Foundation friends,

September was filled with preparations for our annual Fall for Fish fundraiser. From the wine to the auction items, our team did an amazing job procuring locally sourced items that match our values of sustainability! We’ll report on the event itself in our next newsletter.

The construction of the new bridge over Wildcat Creek started in September and the Washington Conservation Corps will begin rerouting the Big Tree trail through Hidden Valley later this month. The deck around Big Tree and the construction of the new pavilion in Hidden Valley will continue through the end of October. We have an update on these exciting projects below.

It truly has been a great year for the Foundation – from reconnecting in person with those of you who come out to the Rhododendron Preserve to planning and completing important projects!

As we close out fall and head toward winter and the holiday season, now is a good time to remind you that Giving Tuesday is Nov. 29th. It’s another opportunity to help us continue our important work at the Preserve. This work includes supporting our efforts to ensure that school children and community members have access to the outdoor environment, as well as all the improvements that make Hidden Valley a truly magical place.

Stay healthy and well,

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


Big Projects Underway

We’ve been incredibly busy on the Rhododendron Preserve over the past several months. Taking advantage of the summer months, a new bridge has been constructed over Wildcat Creek. The old bridge was listing due to water flow related changes and will be closed to the public soon. The new bridge installation started late last month and was completed in mid-October. The project has taken a lot of planning and hard work, but we’re very happy to have it in place for our visitors!

Now that the new bridge is in place, the next big project is to reroute the trail to Big Tree. The Washington Conservation Corps, who we partner with on projects across the Preserve, will begin work to reroute the Big Tree trail through Hidden Valley starting Oct. 17th.

Along with these important projects, the new pavilion, which we’ll be excited to use very soon, and protective deck around Big Tree will be completed at the end of October. Hidden Valley will be open to the public in November after all of the construction work has been completed. We’re excited to be able to finally open Hidden Valley to the public. It is a fascinating piece of the Preserve. It is the site of an original homestead in Hidden Valley and provides easy access to all three of the creeks on the Preserve. Visitors will also be able to see the confluence of Lost and Wildcat Creeks where they join to create Chico Creek.

It seems like each year flies by – so much to be done to maintain and restore the Preserve – and all if it is only possible because of generous supporters of the Foundation. In addition to individual gifts, the Fall for Fish event Oct. 15th, Giving Tuesday Nov. 29th, and GiveBIG in April help us reach our fundraising goals that allow us to make necessary improvements and provide better access to the Preserve.

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


Locally Sourced, Sustainable Products Featured at Fall for Fish

Fall for Fish preparations dominated our activities in September. All of the planning takes into account our core value of sustainability – from the auction items and wine to the activities planned for the event.

Our donated auction items allow us to lead by example – and to support our local businesses that create items using upcycled and recycled materials.

The auction items are as waste-free as possible. A few of the items include:

● 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.

The wines are certified salmon friendly and that’s just a start. We’ll continue our work each year to ensure that we continue to build a better future for all of us.

— Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee


School Field Trips are Underway

We love the opportunity to work with young people. Earlier this spring, Girl Scout Troop #43990 returned to Hidden Valley and other parts of the Preserve to check on the progress of the 40 shore pines that they planted previously. The excitement on the kids’ faces illustrates how incredibly important it is that the Foundation foster the next generation of conservationists and lovers of nature. You can read about this outing in our March newsletter. Partnerships like this and those with AP environmental science classes at Bremerton High School and Olympic College environmental studies courses continually inspire and encourage us to work on building more community connections.

Field trip season is fast approaching, and this is one of our favorite ways to build community connections. Through field trips, schools and community groups alike come out to the Preserve to take in nature, learn about the complexities of our environment, and have fun walking the trail to Big Tree. The Foundation is proud to offer customizable field trips. We do this by working with educators and other groups to identify the learning goals and to design activities that support these goals. By doing this, we are able to create a fun and engaging day for young people on the Preserve.

During the pandemic, we were unable to host in person field trips and we’re excited to be able to resume in person field trips this year. We take pride in giving students the experience of being outdoors and all the learning opportunities it provides – from wildlife and salmon habitat to trees and diverse ecosystems. Our goal is to serve all students, but especially to create a welcoming space for underserved students. One of the ways we do this is through our transportation awards. Transportation is often the most expensive part of a field trip for schools. We are committed to providing transportation assistance funds to cover the cost of transportation for field trips to ensure that every child has access to nature and the learning opportunities that it provides. Generous donations to the Foundation designated to the Education Fund make these transportation awards possible.

If you have a class that you want to bring to the Preserve, please contact education@ketalegacy.org and we will work with you to customize a field trip or help you design ongoing research and data collection projects.

— Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee


Upcoming events and reminders

  • A new pavilion and bridge in Hidden Valley will be constructed this summer with a completion date of mid-October. This project has taken 5+ years of planning, fundraising, and many board volunteer hours to get where it is today.
  • Kitsap Salmon Tours: Washington State University will host free salmon tours on the Rhododendron Preserve Saturday, Nov. 5th, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn more here.
  • 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