2022 August Newsletter

Letter from our president, Jeff Wirtz

Greetings to all our Foundation friends,

Fall is upon us – cooler temperatures, less daylight and, of course, our annual Fall for Fish fundraiser. We’ll gather for the event on Oct. 15th at 5 p.m. at Island Lake Park for wine tasting and some amazing speakers that we will introduce later in this newsletter. The funds raised ensure that we can continue to build on our work to manage, restore and share the Rhododendron Preserve for generations to come.

In the meantime, we are focused on building a pavilion in Hidden Valley and installing a new bridge over Wildcat Creek as we discussed in the last newsletter We’re so proud of the work that’s been done to make sure that we have a relaxing and wonderful space to share with our community.

We hope that you can join us at Fall for Fish to celebrate all the hard work that we’ve accomplished with your support, as well as connect with old friends and maybe make some new ones.

Stay healthy and well,

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

PRESERVE!

Fall for Fish Speakers to Share Expertise

The Foundation will hold its annual Fall for Fish fundraiser in just a few short weeks, on Oct. 15th to be exact, at Island Lake Park.

We’ll have wine tasting and then sit down for a family style dinner to break bread with each other and hear from some amazing speakers who will share their work and experience in forest restoration and old growth forest preservation.

One of the speakers is Frank Curtin, a soil conservationist/forester with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service. Frank will talk about the USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) that the Foundation has applied for and the work that we will be doing with the USDA to improve the Preserve. We discussed some of the forest restoration work that we plan to complete in our May newsletter.

A little bit about Frank: In his USDA role, he spends his days working with private landowners throughout Kitsap, Mason, and Pierce counties to improve the landscape and waterways through voluntary conservation efforts. In his free time, Frank spends his time with his wife and two daughters, age 1 and 3.

“We enjoy exploring all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer by camping, fishing, hiking, stand-up paddle boarding and all things outdoors. Additionally, we enjoy all the amazing local parks, children’s museums, and zoo,” Frank said of his family’s favorite activities.

The other speaker will be Christine Upton, the Communications and Information Director for the Old Growth Forest Network (OGFN). Christine was at the Preserve last September for the induction of the Preserve into the OGFN. She plans on talking about why preserving old growth forests like the Preserve is so important.

A little bit about Christine: She fell in love with the natural world at a young age and has carried that deep connection for her entire life. Previously, she managed outdoor recreation programs at various universities across the nation, where she gained valuable experience in all things related to operations, programming, and communications. Christine is ecstatic to join the OGFN team and offer support to the organization through communications, information systems, and data management. When she’s not in front of her computer, you can find Christine in the garden, reading anything sci-fi/fantasy related, or wrangling her Newfoundland dog.

We hope that you’ll join in the fun at Fall for Fish this year to hear from these great speakers and connect with one another in person…and raise funds to keep our great work going. You can purchase your ticket here.

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

INSPIRE!

Preserve as Outdoor Learning Laboratory

Our Preserve is an incredible resource used by educators as an outdoor classroom and laboratory to teach the next generation about the benefits of nature and the importance of ensuring that our landscapes remain healthy and accessible to all.

In addition to customized preschool, elementary, and high school field trips where students get to experience the Preserve in a single visit, we have a number of relationships with educators where students make repeated visits to the Preserve and work with us to collect data that helps us monitor the health of the Preserve.

Both advanced placement (AP) environmental studies students at Bremerton High and environmental studies students at Olympic College use the Preserve as their outdoor classroom and laboratory. As well as collecting data to monitor the health of the Preserve, students have volunteered to help plant trees and continue to monitor trees that were planted in the past.

It’s an exciting gift to be able to connect these young people with this healthy ecosystem and inspire their engagement in our conservation work. By encouraging the use of our Preserve as an outdoor laboratory and classroom, we are creating the building blocks of understanding on how interconnected we are to nature throughout our lives.

On the Preserve, we’re restoring the Wildcat and Chico Creeks, both of which are prime spawning ground for salmon. We’re working to restore the forests on the parcels that we purchased over the past decade from the Ueland Tree Farm, making sure that they are healthy and resilient forests that provide habitat for wildlife and cool, clean water for salmon. It is fantastic that we have students helping us monitor our progress and supporting our efforts.

When our young people get this hands-on experience – walking through the woods, collecting data on the health of the Preserve, planting a tree and taking care of the lands and waterways – and learning about the work that it takes to maintain our delicate ecological circle of life, we inspire our next generation of leaders and environmental stewards.

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. We are always happy to take a walk in the woods with students, teachers, and parents.

— Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee

EDUCATE!

Higher Stream Banks Benefits

As we are able to open Hidden Valley to the public this fall, those who pay attention will notice a significant difference between the banks of Wildcat Creek in Hidden Valley and elsewhere on the Preserve. The banks on Wildcat Creek in Hidden Valley are significantly higher than those upstream. You might think that it’s better for the creek to stay in its bed rather than to spill over the sides, but the issue is more complex than that. Undoubtedly, it’s better for the people living nearby when creeks stay in their beds and don’t flood over the banks, but is it better for the health of the ecosystem?

Hidden Valley is an original homestead site in Kitsap County, and it was occupied until 2001. Creeks are attractive to homesteaders because they mean a convenient source of water and rich soil. Unfortunately, creeks can also mean flooding. This was true in Hidden Valley and to protect his home, Harry Murray, the last occupant of Hidden Valley, deepened the channel of Wildcat Creek to prevent it from overflowing its banks in the heavy spring and fall rains. As a result, you will see steep banks that are bare dirt near where the old house stood.

On the part of the Preserve that was not homesteaded, you’ll notice that the banks of Wildcat Creek are gently sloping, shallow, and covered in plant life. During times of sustained heavy rainfall, the creek will overflow its banks. This is natural creek behavior. As the water overlaps the banks, the trees, shrubs, and other vegetation drink up some of the water, but more importantly this vegetation reduces bank erosion because the roots hold the soil in place. The rising water, as it overlaps the banks, carries the lighter mud and silt particles and nutrients onto shore replenishing the soil.

Vegetation on creek banks is an important part of creek health. When there is a lack of vegetation and bare soil is in direct contact with the water, sustained heavy rainfall results in erosion of the creek banks. This erosion fills the creek with silt and sediment that settles onto the bottom filling in the spaces in the creek bed cobble. This reduces salmon spawning habitat, as well as smothers creek-dwelling insects and eliminates their feeding and breeding areas. These creek-dwelling insects are essential food for salmon, birds, and other wildlife.

Erosion also increases the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, nutrients found in soil that are essential for plant growth, in the creek. The increase in these nutrients in the water creates excess growth of algae which in turn results in a decrease in the dissolved oxygen in the water. Salmon and creek-dwelling insects, as well as other aquatic animals, depend on dissolved oxygen to breathe. Erosion dirties the water, decreases dissolved oxygen, clouds the water, and blocks essential sunlight from reaching the stream bottom. Without sunlight, plants can’t grow and salmon can’t find their food.

The vegetation on the banks of creeks not only reduces erosion, but also shades the creek, which helps to keep the water cool. Salmon need cool and clear water to thrive. By maintaining stream banks in as naturally vegetated a state as possible, creek health is maximized. One of the steps that we will be taking in the restoration of Hidden Valley is native plantings along the creek banks that will help to restore the natural conditions of the Hidden Valley sections of Wildcat Creek.

— Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee

MORE TO EXPLORE…

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.
  • Save the date: Fall for Fish annual fundraising event, Oct. 15th, 2022, at Island Lake Park, 1087 NW Island Lake Road in Poulsbo. Tickets are now available.
  • 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.

2022 July Newsletter

Letter from our president, Jeff Wirtz

Greetings to all our Foundation friends,

The year has moved by so quickly thanks to the many projects going on at the Rhododendron Preserve. We have also been busy gearing up for our annual Fall for Fish fundraiser on Oct. 15th at Island Lake Park. You can read about the history of this fundraising event, or as we call it “fun-raising,” in this edition of the newsletter. It’s this event and all your generosity throughout the year that allow us to continue to do great work at the Rhododendron Preserve, as well as support all the activities and community grants that create access to nature for children and adults.

We are proud of the Hidden Valley restoration work that we’re doing, particularly the recent work to remove tons of concrete and debris from Wildcat and Chico creeks. And we could not be more grateful for IQ Solutions and their expertise to ensure that the restoration work is done in a way that continues our work to sustain healthy waterways on the Rhododendron Preserve. You can read more about this work and IQ Solutions below.

As we head into fall, let’s celebrate all that we have done so far this year and gear up for more great work together into the next. We hope that you can join us at Fall for Fish to celebrate all the hard work that we’ve accomplished with your support and, of course, connect with old friends and maybe make new ones.

Stay healthy and well,

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

PRESERVE!

Fall for Fish Fundraiser

Keta Legacy Foundation, also known as Mountaineers Foundation, is constantly striving to grow and improve as an organization. The last few years we’ve been working on developing strategies and policies that meet 21st Century professional standards. One of the things that we realized we wanted to implement was an annual celebration where we could invite friends old and new to join us in celebrating our accomplishments and looking toward future goals. Thus, was born our annual Fall for Fish celebration.

We created this celebration by brainstorming all the things that we liked best about organizational celebrations that we’ve attended and then discussing every detail to find the elements that would most align with our values and purpose. Then we examined how we would implement those elements to make sure that we would be walking our talk. For example, we liked the idea of wine tasting, so we made certain the wines were salmon safe certified.

Before every Fall for Fish, we remind ourselves that the event is about making connections with our friends and supporters far more than it is about raising money. We truly appreciate our friends old and new and want everyone to feel comfortable and included. That’s one of the things that’s very important to the Foundation and contributed to our decision that the food be served family style rather than buffet style. Real conversation and connection are facilitated by sharing food and passing it around the table.

Of course, Fall for Fish is our annual fundraising event and each year we’ve chosen one project to feature in our Fall for Fish fundraising. The first project that we selected was to install a new bridge across Wildcat Creek and we raised enough money to do it. However, some other projects needed to happen before the new bridge could be built. This year we’re celebrating the new bridge, education pavilion, and protective decking around Big Tree that will be completed by the date of this year’s Fall for Fish. All three projects were successful fundraising efforts at Fall for Fish.

We don’t really like to think of it as fundraising to be honest. We think of Fall for Fish as FUNraising. It’s fun to try new salmon safe wines, while chatting with friends old and new. It’s fun to see all the fascinating items available in the silent auction and to watch the friendly competition over who will win the auction. It’s fun to enjoy an excellent meal in the company of people that we enjoy spending time with. It’s fun to celebrate the great things that the Foundation is able to accomplish because of all our wonderful friends and benefactors. Even during the worst of the pandemic, we found a way to have a fun Fall for Fish over Zoom in 2020. As cautious in person events became possible in 2021, we created a Fall for Fish where we could share our exciting plans for Hidden Valley in person at the Rhododendron Preserve. This year we’re delighted to be able to return to our original style of Fall for Fish with a few new ideas. We hope that you’ll join in the fun this year and purchase your ticket for Fall for Fish.

— Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee

INSPIRE!

Restoration Efforts Underway

Before Pump House Removal

The Foundation has been working on several restoration efforts at the Rhododendron Preserve including the removal of the remaining structures from Hidden Valley and concrete and debris from Wildcat and Chico creeks.

We were pleased to contract with IQ Solutions on this project. The owners, Quest and Ivan, are Native American and have a deep understanding of the land and waterways, which is exactly the expertise that we need to get the work done. Bringing them on board to support our work also illustrates how serious the Foundation is about our goal to improve Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in our contractor hiring practices.

After Pump House Removal

In addition to removing the structures from Hidden Valley, we also removed tons of concrete and wood debris from Wildcat and Chico Creeks. The concrete was mostly from the old footings of a bridge over Wildcat Creek that was removed years ago. The debris was from an old structure, which we think may have been an old pump house, that fell into Chico Creek after its foundation was undercut by the creek during high flows.

IQ Solutions is making great progress! They recently completed the demolition work and, after looking at the improved waterway, I can verify that the creeks look incredible and healthy with all the concrete and wood debris gone. Please check out the before and after pictures above to see the difference that our restoration efforts have made!

We can’t thank Quest and Ivan enough for their hard work and expertise in this restoration work. We are excited for everyone to see the great things happening at the Rhododendron Preserve.

— Jeff Wirtz
President

EDUCATE!

Plant a Tree

There’s a meme that I see regularly. There are a few variations, but the basic idea is that trees are essential to life and that whatever the problem, the solution is to plant trees.

Trees are critical to our survival. Another meme that I see often is about how plants and trees can survive without us, but we cannot survive without them. It’s true. We’re entirely dependent on trees and plants. They make the oxygen that we breathe and the food that we eat. Without them, we can’t survive.

In my neighborhood, there are many mature trees which help to keep homes cool. Lately, several of our neighbors have cut down their big trees. These same neighbors then complain that their houses are unbearably hot in the summer. At my house, we have a lot of big trees. I’m always surprised at the wave of heat that hits me when I walk up my driveway and onto the street, stepping away from the shade.

You can see for yourself just how much difference trees make to the temperature by visiting our Rhododendron Preserve on a hot day. As you stand sweltering in the parking lot, you’ll wonder why you thought this was a good idea, but trust me, you’ll understand soon. Stepping onto the trail under the trees, the temperature will drop, but it’s still going to be hot. However, as you enter the old growth forest on the other side of the ridge, you’ll experience a significant decrease in temperature. The great old trees are keeping their home cooler. Their shade prevents too much heat from the sun from getting to the ground and, as you learned in elementary school, warm air rises leaving the cooler air near the ground.

Trees also transpire water vapor. They bring water up through their roots which are deep in the ground. A small amount of this water is used to help the tree grow and the rest is used to regulate the temperature of the tree. Trees do this by using the sun’s warmth to turn the water that has reached their leaves into water vapor which is released by stoma (tiny mouth like openings) on the underside of leaves. This released water vapor not only cools the tree, but also the area around the tree. By both providing dense shade and transpiring water vapor, trees keep things cooler. This means that despite the intense heat outside of the places protected by these giant trees, the temperature is moderate and pleasant in the old growth forest. You may not want to leave.

Trees are the most effective means that we have of mitigating climate change. If you’re hot, plant trees. If there is drought, plant trees. If you want to continue to live on this planet together with all the other amazing and wonderful creatures, plant and protect trees.

— Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee

MORE TO EXPLORE…

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.
  • Save the date: Fall for Fish annual fundraising event, Oct. 15th, 2022, at Island Lake Park, 1087 NW Island Lake Road in Poulsbo. Tickets are now available.
  • Mark your calendar for Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022.

2022 June Newsletter

Letter from our president, Jeff Wirtz

Greetings to all our Foundation friends,

Summer is in full swing and not a moment too soon! We love the rain and the beauty that it creates, but it’s nice to have a little dry weather to welcome new and returning visitors to the Rhododendron Preserve.

As we discussed in our May newsletter, we have a lot of improvements in motion to ensure that we’re keeping the Rhododendron Preserve in great condition. At this year’s Fall for Fish annual fundraiser on Oct. 15th, we’ll celebrate the work that we’ve done to replace the bridge, remove hazards in Hidden Valley, build the pavilion, and add protective decking around Big Tree. It’s truly a labor of love that we can’t wait to share with you. Tickets are now available – we hope you can join this year’s event at Island Lake Park in Poulsbo.

I also want to alert readers that Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) member recruitment is underway for the 2022-23 program year. They are recruiting over 280 members who will serve across Washington state, including with the Foundation. Applications can be submitted here. You can read about their work at the Rhododendron Preserve here.

Last, and certainly not least, the Foundation Board is actively working to educate ourselves about diversity and inclusion to better serve our diverse communities. That’s why we’re so delighted to share a first-hand account from Vamos Outdoors Project in this newsletter about how our community grants program is helping foster inclusion in outdoor activities and create an understanding that nature is a welcoming space for everyone. We truly can’t get enough of these great stories, and we are excited to keep working to foster outdoor inclusion for all.

We hope to see you at the Fall for Fish fundraiser and hope you enjoy this newsletter. Thank you for all you do for the Foundation and our communities.

Stay healthy and well,

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

PRESERVE!

Building Blocks for Diverse Animal Habitat

The Foundation is committed to creating and preserving the diversity of the more than 400 acres of the Rhododendron Preserve. To do that, we’ll be creating animal habitat piles using dead wood and small trees thinned from overstocked stands.

What are habitat piles and why are they important?

Wildlife habitat piles are built with small trees, limbs, and boughs – often with materials that are a byproduct of forest management activities or storm-related debris. These “critter condos” provide homes for wildlife such as songbirds, voles, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, salamanders, frogs, lizards, and snakes. Insects like them too.

Habitat piles are important because they provide food and shelter to more than 40 percent of wildlife species in Pacific Northwest forests. Habitat piles located near streams and wetlands also benefit salmon runs by keeping sediment runoff at bay. And, bonus, these piles will erode over time, creating rich soil that supports a wide variety of forest undergrowth and offers nutrients to the trees.

That’s why we’ll be actively constructing these habitat piles at the Rhododendron Preserve. We want to ensure that birds, small animals, reptiles and yes, even bugs, have a healthy home.

Next time you visit the Rhododendron Preserve, keep a lookout for our habitat piles and think about the many animals and fish they will sustain throughout the year and beyond.

— Jeff Wirtz
President

INSPIRE!

Community Grants in Action

On June 11th, we took 11 youth from Latine and Migrant families whitewater rafting through the gorgeous canyon section of the North Fork Nooksack River. The river was running very high with all the recent snow melt and rain that we’ve had up here in Whatcom County. Driving over the bridge and seeing massive whitewater waves made my stomach flip, but the kids unloaded the van with nothing but excitement—a great start to the day.

The highly professional guides walked us through an extensive safety talk before we set out on the river. I sat across from one of the students and watched his eyes and smile grow bigger with every rapid. Every single student was engaged in paddling through the breathtaking North Fork Nooksack River canyon. We pulled over on a relatively protected river bar for lunch, where the students were treated to watermelon, charcuterie, a sandwich bar, lemonade, and brownies.

A few of the trip leaders, including myself, spent significant time educating the students on the ecological significance of the Nooksack River to the region, the five species of salmon that call the river home, some of the threats that impact the river (logging, irresponsible recreation, hydropower, flood management infrastructure, etc.), as well as some of the restoration work being done by the Nooksack Indian Tribe to alleviate these impacts (a staff member from the Nooksack Tribe joined us on the trip). The students also shared some of the Leave No Trace practices that they had learned from previous excursions and talked about how they applied them to this trip.

When we got back to the outfitter’s headquarters, after the students helped load the rafts back onto the trailer, the students celebrated one of their trip leaders who had just graduated from college and would be moving on from working with this group of students. They wrapped him in a big hug and shared a tres leches cake. I was honored to be a part of that celebration.

We then had a trip debrief where each student named their favorite part of the trip, the most challenging aspect of the trip, and what they want to improve upon. All but one student kept talking about what they’d like to do on their next whitewater rafting trip—a pretty good ratio for 11 kids trying something scary for the first time!

The participants and I want to extend an enormous “thank you” to you and the Foundation who made this trip possible. This trip was an invitation for this underserved community of Latine youth to participate in a historically white-dominated river recreation activity. We hope that it sparked a new sense of curiosity and appreciation and that these students will become great advocates for rivers.

We greatly appreciate that the Foundation shared and amplified our project on the Foundation’s website and e-newsletter.

Thank you, sincerely, for your support.

Bridget Moran, Vamos Outdoors Project

What a beautiful day they had. On behalf of the Foundation, we are so glad your trip was such a success. You are doing important work!

— Nancy Neyenhouse
Vice President

EDUCATE!

Crown Shyness

Have you ever looked up at the forest canopy? Did you notice how there are gaps between treetops where you can see the sky? Did you wonder why trees give each other space like that?

Dendrologists, the people who study trees, call it “crown shyness.” That term always sounds to me like the trees are too bashful to let their tops touch. In fact, scientists aren’t sure why some species of trees are so careful to keep their branches from touching while others do not exercise such care.

If you look up at the canopy at our Rhododendron Preserve, you’ll often see areas where the trees are giving each other space. Some scientists argue that by keeping their limbs from touching each other, the trees are protecting themselves from the damage that would occur when wind whipped the branches and leaves against each other.

Other scientists believe that maintaining space and not allowing branches from different trees to touch is a way to prevent diseases and insect infestations. When the trees don’t touch each other, it’s more difficult for larvae, insects, and diseases to move from tree to tree.

Still others contend that when the trees give each other space, light has greater penetration, and the forest can photosynthesize more efficiently. The trees are cooperating to maximize the chances of survival for each of them. I like the idea that trees are cooperating with each other so that each has the best chance to survive and thrive. Trees live in communities and cooperation is essential if a community is to flourish. More and more research is being done that reveals how trees cooperate with each other. Future research may determine that crown shyness is just one more way trees collaborate to ensure that their communities prosper.

You can learn more about crown shyness and about how trees maintain their separation in this article.

— Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee

MORE TO EXPLORE…

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.
  • Save the date: Fall for Fish annual fundraising event, Oct. 15th, 2022, at Island Lake Park, 1087 NW Island Lake Road in Poulsbo. Tickets are now available.
  • Mark your calendar for Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022.

2022 May Newsletter

Letter from our president, Jeff Wirtz

Greetings to all our Foundation friends,

As we move into what should be summer, we’re experiencing an unusually cold and wet May. In fact, 3.82 inches of rain fell in the Puget Sound region—the second-largest total ever observed during the month of May. But that’s not keeping the Keta Legacy Foundation, also known as the Mountaineers Foundation, from moving forward on plans and projects that will improve the Rhododendron Preserve.

As part of the improvements, we are working on the long-term health and resiliency of the parcels we have purchased from Ueland Tree Farm over the past decade. More details are in the “Preserve” section below. As mentioned in previous emails, we are also going to begin construction on a new pavilion and bridge in Hidden Valley this summer. It should be completed by our annual Fall for Fish fundraising event on October 15th, 2022. Tickets to this event will be available in July – but be sure to mark your calendar to join us.

Finally, we are thrilled to be hosting students, parents and teachers on the Preserve and around the area to engage the next generation in land stewardship and excite them about the role that nature plays in their health and the health of their communities. It’s truly rewarding work and we could not do it without your support.

Stay healthy and well,

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

PRESERVE!

Healthy, Resilient Forestland

This month, Foundation interns and Preserve Committee members conducted a preliminary site visit at the Preserve with the local USDA National Resources Conservation Service (NCRS) representative. The Foundation recently applied for and was accepted into two of USDA’s NRCS programs, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Both of these programs provide free technical assistance and cost sharing for land stewardship projects to landowners like the Foundation.

Forest health and resiliency are topics that we hear a lot about: We know that forests that are managed responsibly and with great care are more wildfire resistant and resilient, store more carbon, and foster the growth and abundance of lush underbrush that sustains healthy wildlife habitat. Healthy forests are also critical to clean water and healthy salmon runs.

1200 trees per acre
300 trees per acre

The Foundation aims to be transparent in its stewardship and the need for managed thinning on the newer parcels. The parcels that we plan on thinning currently have ~1200 trees per acre (top photo), while healthy old growth forest parcels typically have ~300 trees per acre (bottom photo). Other projects that we plan to do with USDA’s help include creating habitat piles and tree snags for wildlife, installing bird boxes, and planting native trees and shrubs. Project criteria include locations that are easily accessed by crews and areas that the Foundation would like to showcase to the public as restoration success stories. The next step is for USDA to put together an estimate to show how much they can cost share on the projects. Also, the NRCS contract can be renewed every five years.

Visitors and volunteers can see with their own eyes the difference between a well-spaced tree stand and one that needs management tools to become more resilient and healthier over the long term. Our interns created a report showing pictures of the areas needing to be thinned and contrasted them with areas in the old growth parcels along the trail to Big Tree to illustrate the difference that actively managed forestland can make when it comes to healthy tree stands and abundant underbrush.

We welcome partners and conservation enthusiasts to learn more about managed thinning and its benefits to supporting healthy, resilient landscapes that are more fire resistant, store more carbon, support salmon runs and provide animal habitat.

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

INSPIRE!

Animal Dining Rooms

Everyone has an image of what a dining room looks like. They expect it to be a room with table and chairs where people eat meals. The details and décor vary, but the general concept is universal. People don’t think to look for dining rooms in the woods. If you pay attention, though, there are dining rooms all over the forest.

Look at the base of evergreen trees and you might find that squirrels have been dining above. The squirrel has been sitting on a branch in his tree dining room and eating fir cones. In this photo. it’s easy to see where the squirrel’s dining room was since the green cone pieces show up clearly. In most cases, however, the bits of cone are from brown ripe cones.

But it isn’t just squirrels that dine in the forest. If you pay close attention, you might notice torn up logs. Bears, raccoons, and coyotes are known to tear up rotting logs to get at the grubs and bugs inside. As the picture illustrates, they are very messy eaters.

Sapsucker birds are much neater eaters. If you look closely at the trees at the Preserve and elsewhere in the woods, you may notice neat holes in some tree trunks. These holes are where sapsuckers have been dining.

All the dining rooms shown here were found along the Big Tree Trail in our Rhododendron Preserve. It’s a reminder that everywhere you look, animals and nature are showing us their unique dining habits in their dining rooms all through the forest.

We hope this inspires you to come for a visit and see the many animal dining rooms throughout the Preserve.

-Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee

EDUCATE!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

A group of first graders joined the Foundation at Chico Salmon Park on June 3. This county property was chosen because of the current hazards in Hidden Valley, plus the absence of any toilet facilities would prove to be too much for the youngsters (and the adults). It’s another reason Foundation leaders are excited for the work and upgrades that will be done this summer and fall to improve the Preserve for generations to come.

In all, 31 kids participated in the field trip, as well as many engaged and enthusiastic teachers and chaperones. We did a watershed web activity with the entire group. Each participant had a laminated card with an image and label on the front with a statement about it on the back. Beginning with the salmon, each participant would read the card while holding a thread then pass the spool to another participant. Pretty soon everyone in the circle was connected by the thread.

Once everyone was connected, we talked about how what happens to one part of the watershed can affect other parts of the watershed. For example, clear cutting trees has a large impact on the participant with the tree card, as well as other parts of the watershed. The person with the tree card then took a step forward or back from the circle. Everyone could feel how it impacted the part of the watershed they represented as the thread became looser or tighter. They could also recognize how too much stress on the watershed could actually snap the thread, seriously damaging the watershed.

Outings like this illustrate how incredibly important it is that the Foundation foster the next generation of conservationists and lovers of nature. As part of this work, the Foundation provided transportation assistance funds to cover the cost of the bus for the field trip. This is something that the Foundation will continue to offer to ensure that every child has access to nature and the learning opportunities it provides.

-Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee

MORE TO EXPLORE…

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.
  • Save the date: Fall for Fish annual fundraising event, Oct. 15, 2022.
  • Mark your calendar for Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022.

2022 April Newsletter

creek on the rhododendron preserve

Letter from our president, Jeff Wirtz

Greetings to all our Foundation friends,

It’s gearing up to be a busy year in Hidden Valley! This summer, we’ll begin work on the construction of a new education pavilion in Hidden Valley. We’ll also be replacing our bridge over Wildcat Creek. We’ll share our progress on these projects along the way and look forward to welcoming old and new friends to celebrate both projects around Fall for Fish, our annual fundraising event, on Saturday, Oct. 15.

The Keta Legacy Foundation, also known as the Mountaineers Foundation, is incredibly excited to share a list of the many recipients of our community grants program. They are highlighted in the “Inspire” section of this newsletter. Congratulations to every grant recipient and all the great work that they do to conserve and preserve the valuable spaces that bring us so much joy!

A big “thank you” to everyone who participated in the annual Kitsap Great Give and the Washington GiveBIG campaigns. Your contributions make our work to preserve and share our cherished Rhododendron Preserve with visitors possible.

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

Stay healthy and well,

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

PRESERVE!

Hidden Valley Past, Present, Future

creek on the rhododendron preserveThere are a lot of exciting things happening in Hidden Valley this year! Hidden Valley is a section of our Rhododendron Preserve that’s currently closed to the public but, if everything goes as planned this year, that will change before the salmon return to spawn.

Hidden Valley is located at the confluence of Lost and Wildcat creeks. These two creeks come together and form Chico Creek, which flows into Dyes Inlet. The lush bottom land and proximity to three creeks made Hidden Valley an ideal homestead location. And that’s where our recorded history of Hidden Valley begins.

Past

Under the Homestead Act of 1862, Alfred Taylor claimed the 67¼ acres that originally made up Hidden Valley. However, in Taylor’s own words, “I’m no woodsman and the screeching of the wildcats fair drives me crazy.” So, in 1890 Taylor sold the property to John Lewis and his family. The Lewis family lived there until 1903 when Hidden Valley was sold to land speculator John McClain. A chance meeting between McClain and S. Edward Pascall on the ferry Norwood resulted in Pascall purchasing the property in 1907 and settling there with his wife and two daughters, Mary and Patience.

The Pascalls lived in Hidden Valley as subsistence farmers, growing their own food and making nearly everything that they needed. Materials that they couldn’t make themselves were packed in on their backs or brought down the hill on a trolley that ran on wooden tracks. The family was very happy in Hidden Valley. They had no near neighbors, but that didn’t mean they didn’t have visitors.

In 1909, a group of Mountaineer hikers looking for the blooming rhododendrons at Wildcat Lake took a wrong turn and found their way to Hidden Valley. The Pascalls welcomed the group and gave them permission to have their lunch in the valley. The Mountaineers on that hike made such a positive impression on the Pascalls that they invited the group to return, and a long friendship developed. The Mountaineers purchased adjoining property and eventually built what is now The Mountaineers Kitsap Cabin, which is on the Washington State Historic Register, as well as the Kitsap Forest Theater.

In 1955, Mary Pascall Remy and her sister Patience Pascall downsized their homestead and donated 40 acres to The Mountaineers for conservation, educational, and recreation purposes.

By 1968, Patience Pascall was the only surviving member of family, making it increasingly difficult for her to manage everything on her own. Harry Murray and his family moved into Hidden Valley as tenants and caretakers. It was also this year that the driveway into Hidden Valley was built, the first road ever into Hidden Valley.

When Patience Lincoln Pascall passed away in 1978, she left Hidden Valley to the Foundation, with Harry Murray having a lifetime tenancy. This meant that while the land belonged to the Foundation, Murray could live there as if the property were his own, which he did until his death in 2001.

Present

Upon the death of Harry Murray, the property became entirely that of the Foundation. Since that time, the Foundation has been clearing the valley of hazards, demolishing unsafe structures, and giving thoughtful consideration of how best to use the Pascall gift in a way that would honor the history and the environmental value of the property. The Foundation also wants to be sensitive to the fact that Hidden Valley is part of the Suquamish Tribe’s usual and accustomed lands, working alongside the Tribe to ensure thoughtful environmental stewardship and seeking their guidance on projects and restoration work.

While the Foundation has been putting the final touches on our future plans for Hidden Valley, the valley hasn’t been idle. Fisheries biologists from the Tribe use the confluence to conduct annual smolt counts on both Lost and Wildcat creeks. Being able to set up traps at the end of each of these creeks makes for an accurate count of the fish leaving the system. The Foundation has also used the space for field trips, educational events, and restoration projects. Washington Conservation Corps has been engaged regularly to remove invasive species. Girl Scouts and the Foundation Board have planted trees and native species. In addition, a lot of planning, discussion, and fundraising has taken place.

Future

Like all the Rhododendron Preserve, Hidden Valley is an incredible education resource. This year buildings will be demolished and removed, and a new education pavilion will be built. In addition, a new bridge will be constructed across Wildcat Creek.

In addition to the constructing the pavilion and bridge, we’ve hired a contractor to build a protective deck around Big Tree that will protect the roots, but also still allow visitors to touch the tree.

We are proud of the Foundation’s legacy in Hidden Valley and are excited to see all the planning, hard work and partnerships, as well as fundraising, come together.

-Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee

INSPIRE!

The Power of Community Grants

The Foundation is proud to be able to provide community grants to groups and programs across Washington state and beyond. These grants allow underserved communities to enjoy our great outdoors, support critical conservation efforts, and boost educational work that keep green spaces green and preserve critical areas, including our waterways, as well as inspire the next generation of conservationists.

This year, we awarded a total of nine grants to the following deserving groups:

American Rivers: American Rivers—along with their partner, the Vamos Outdoors Project—is organizing a rafting and river education trip for Latin youth on the North Fork Nooksack River in June 2022. The goal of this trip is to introduce the next generation of river stewards to the ecological gem that is the Nooksack River. With this trip, they hope to invite historically underrepresented communities to the river’s recreation community and build a stronger, more diverse team of river advocates.

Braided River: This group is using an innovative multimedia citizen action campaign to celebrate, protect, and restore Puget Sound. It began with an award-winning book published in Fall 2019, and has expanded to include live events, earned media, bus and transit signs, a library poster contest, and a multimedia traveling exhibit. The Foundation’s grant will be used to extend the tour of the multimedia exhibit around Puget Sound and provide additional partner support to venues around the Salish Sea to leverage the suite of the group’s educational resources.

Pacific Shellfish Institute: The Pacific Shellfish Institute will use its grant to expand its “Exploring Plankton!” lendable backpacks program in partnership with the Timberland Regional Library, teachers, and local School District Science Coordinators. The Institute will create two backpacks for the Library of Things Program at Timberland Regional Library and an additional backpack that will be available to classrooms and the public directly through the Institute.

Raincoast Conservation Foundation: The grant money provided by the Foundation will support the third season of Raincoast’s interactive online education program, Coastal Insights. The funding will also support the running of our Student Innovation Contest, in partnership with Take A Stand: Youth for Conservation.

RE Sources: The grant will support The Green Team Network (GTN), which is a free program for all Whatcom County K-8 students. It provides hands-on, locally relevant lessons and learning activities focused on energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction and recycling, and climate science and impacts. RE Sources staff support GTN members, including teachers and volunteer mentors, as they explore the sustainability of their school and then plan and implement their own student-led sustainability project.

The Student Conservation Association: The grant will fund The Student Conservation Association’s (SCA) Seattle Community Crews, which offer financially insecure and diverse urban youth a paid opportunity to gain environmental education and workforce development skills through hands-on conservation projects at local parks and green spaces. SCA operates two to four Community Crews in the Seattle area each summer, each comprised of 5-8 high school youth and 1-2 leaders who complete four weeks of conservation service, building and repairing trails; cleaning shorelines; tracking and monitoring invasive species; and restoring habitats for native species.

Vashon Nature Center: Grant dollars will allow the Vashon Nature Center to participate in an on-going community science effort to estimate wildlife population sizes for black bear, cougar, black-tailed deer, Roosevelt elk, bobcat, and coyote throughout the Salish Sea. This ground-breaking non-invasive study was started by Olympic Cougar Project, which is a partnership between Panthera and four tribal nations.

Washington Association of Land Trusts: Grant funds will be used to support the Northwest Land Camp 2022 and underwrite a six-part Equitable Communications in Land Conservation workshop series. Collectively, the group’s cutting-edge environmental education events are expected to attract over 200 land conservation practitioners working in the Salish Sea Ecoregion.

Washington Environmental Council: The grant will support their public conservation education work around threats to the survival of the critically endangered Southern Resident orcas, specifically their work on Orca Month and the Give Them Space campaign. The Give Them Space campaign is a public engagement effort to reduce vessel noise and disturbance around the orcas in Puget Sound.

The Foundation is incredibly honored to support these groups this year – and many others over the years – and the good work that they do across our state and beyond. They represent the spirit and legacy of the Foundation’s work to educate, inspire and preserve.

-Renee Johnson
Chair of the Grants Committee

EDUCATE!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

We’ve all heard about the three ‘Rs” – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We’ve all heard that mantra over and over again. And while we all know why it’s important to recycle, there’s a lot less emphasis on the other two Rs.

Most of us have a recycling bin in our homes. We know recycling is necessary and that it matters. We’re a little less clear about why it is vital to reduce and reuse. We could learn a lot by watching nature’s example. Nature is all about reducing, reusing and recycling. Nothing in nature is ever wasted and everything serves multiple purposes.

Let’s start with “reduce.” How does nature reduce? When we talk about nature we use words like abundance, generous and plenty. While there is competition for resources in nature, plants and animals don’t take more than they need. They don’t hoard resources. A wolf pack, for example, doesn’t kill two deer when one is enough to feed the pack. “Reduce” is a reminder for people to do like nature and only use the resources we need and not amass more than we can use.

“Reuse” is what nature does best. Everything in nature has multiple uses. This pile of branches on our Rhododendron Preserve property was once tree limbs that held leaves that made food for the tree. When the leaves fall, they are reused as a blanket for the soil, holding in moisture and providing protection for insects, grubs and larvae while they sleep and grow over the winter. The leaves are also food for these small creatures and fungi. As the leaves are eaten and eroded by weather they are recycled into new soil.

It’s vital that we humans think and act more like nature. It doesn’t have to start with major life changes; it can begin with small steps. My family subscribes to the newspaper. When we are finished reading the paper, we give it to a friend who uses it to line her bird cages. When the birds are done with it, she adds the newspaper to her compost bin where it breaks down and becomes soil for the herbs she grows. Instead of simply one use then going off to the recycling center, the paper serves three purposes ending up recycled back into nature.

We encourage you to think about the small things you can do to reduce, reuse, and finally recycle.

-Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee

MORE TO EXPLORE…

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.
  • Save the date: Fall for Fish annual fundraising event, Oct. 15, 2022.
  • Mark your calendar for Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022.