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

PRESERVE!

 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

INSPIRE!

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

EDUCATE!

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

MORE TO EXPLORE…

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

2022 November Newsletter

Letter from our president, Jeff Wirtz

Greetings to all our Foundation friends,

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all our partners, board members, and friends of the Keta Legacy Foundation, also known as Mountaineers Foundation. I could not be more grateful for all of your support in 2022!

You’ve helped us reach some big milestones – from the installation of a protective deck around Big Tree to the building of a new pavilion and bridge in Hidden Valley, we’ve had a productive year. If you didn’t see The Kitsap Sun article on all the work that we’ve done to improve and enhance Hidden Valley and other areas of the Rhododendron Preserve, it truly captured all we’ve done this year and the work it takes over the years to accomplish all our goals. We have also started reseeding bare areas in Hidden Valley with native grasses and wildflowers and we will continue our restoration work in 2023.

With so much to be grateful for, we’re looking ahead to an even better 2023 and all it will bring for the Preserve and everyone that will come out to enjoy it. We’ll continue implementing our restoration plan for planting hundreds of diverse and native plants in Hidden Valley in January and March. And we will again award our Community Grants, welcome many schools and groups to the Preserve, host our annual fundraiser in October, and so much more.

We hope that you will continue to support our work and get out to Hidden Valley to see its beauty and all the work that has been done to make our small oasis even more welcoming for all. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday time with your families and friends and we’ll look forward to engaging with you again in the New Year.

Stay healthy and well,

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

PRESERVE!

 Planting the Seedlings of Tomorrow

The Preserve is truly a special place that we are consistently working to improve and reinvigorate through clean-up efforts, stream and bank restoration, planting of native species, and trail maintenance. What we’re building today is done with a vision of tomorrow.

One part of our restoration efforts is implementing the Hidden Valley Restoration Planting Plan that was created in collaboration with five students enrolled in Western Washington University’s Ecological Restoration class this fall. The recommendations in the plan are intended to act as a guide for the Foundation’s restoration planting events in 2023.

The goals of the upcoming planting events are to:

● Restore the riparian habitat surrounding the area where Lost and Wildcat Creeks converge to form Chico Creek.
● Reestablish a diverse forest surrounding the riparian area.
● Enhance the resiliency of Hidden Valley as the effects of climate change continue to emerge.

To do this work, the Foundation has purchased the 900 native trees and shrubs listed below to restore the natural habitat of Hidden Valley in the Preserve:

● 50 Baldhip Rose (Rosa gymnocarpa)
● 50 Cascara (Rhamnus purshiana)
● 50 Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana)
● 50 Osoberry (Oemlaria cerasiformis)
● 50 Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)
● 50 Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)
● 50 Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
● 50 Vine Maple (Acer circinatum)
● 100 Western White Pine (Pinus monticola)
● 100 Sitka Willow (Salix sitchensis)
● 50 Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)
● 50 Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum)
● 50 Salal (Gaultheria shallon)
● 50 Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
● 100 Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum)

There are ample, open priority planting areas in Hidden Valley, which are labeled areas A, B, and C (see image to right). The plan recommends the planting of the following species in each area:

● Area A: priority planting area for Sitka willow, red osier dogwood, red elderberry, and Pacific ninebark (the same species are recommended if planting is planned on parallel streambank).
● Area B: Sitka willow, cascara, vine maple, and rhododendron.
● Area C: Sitka willow, vine maple, and Osoberry.

I’m happy to report that some of our restoration efforts in Hidden Valley have already taken place. The same five WWU students that prepared the restoration plan also planted 20 Garry Oaks (Quercus garryana) in Hidden Valley in November. Also, the Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) reseeded all of the bare areas in Hidden Valley this fall with the following native grasses and wildflowers:

● Tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa)
● Blue wildrye (Elymus glaucus)
● Red fescue (Festuca rubra)
● Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
● Common Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris)

We welcome you to come out and see the work that we’re doing to restore the lush landscape that makes the Preserve such a diverse ecosystem with old growth forest, healthy, salmon-bearing creeks, wildlife habitat, and forestlands that we’re working to restore.

It has been a pleasure to watch these restoration activities and the many visitors that have come to help do the work, or simply take a walk in the woods. We’re excited for the future of the Preserve and hope you are, too.

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

INSPIRE!

Kitsap Salmon Tours See Record Turnout

The Foundation was delighted to once again be a part of Kitsap Salmon Tours this year. Salmon Tours is a wonderful countywide event that encourages people to connect with the environment and learn about salmon and the critical role that these amazing creatures play in healthy environments.

Kitsap Salmon Tours were a tremendous success again this year. The tours, which were held in-person this year, visit various stream sites across the county as we explore all things salmon with biologists, local environmental organizations, and trained docents.

For the Foundation, one of the great parts of Salmon Tours this year was the ability to use our new pavilion. It allowed for visitors to stay dry and our docents to take small groups out for salmon viewing and learning with the many experts that we had on hand.

As part of the tour, the Foundation had many docents and other experts stationed in Hidden Valley and throughout the Preserve to discuss local salmon species, their lifecycles, and the role that we all play in the health of our salmon populations. It’s a perfect location for this discussion because the Preserve’s creeks have some of the healthiest salmon runs in Western Washington. Working with the Squamish Tribe and harnessing their expertise, a smolt count takes place each spring on the Wildcat and Lost creeks and it has consistently shown healthy returns year over year.

This year, we had 140 people visit the Preserve for Salmon Tours and we estimate that 75% of them were first-time visitors. That’s great news for the Foundation as we work to build awareness of the work that we’re doing not just to protect salmon runs, but to preserve old-growth forests and restore the landscape to a healthier environment every single year for fish, wildlife, and humans.

This is just one more reason Hidden Valley is a special place worth the effort that we put into it every year. Our goal is to create a welcoming and educational space that opens minds to the value of conservation of critical and diverse green spaces.

— Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee

EDUCATE!

Field Trips Planned with a Purpose

People sometimes wonder what a customizable field trip means. In a world where everything is prepackaged, order off the menu, one size fits all, something that is tailor made and crafted to be what you need and want is surprising. But for the Foundation, that’s exactly the kind of field trip that we want to provide.

The field trip that we crafted for South Kitsap High students is a good example. It was a more complex field trip than usual because it involved more than just the Preserve. Teachers at South Kitsap High reached out wanting to visit our Preserve, Salmon Haven, and Chico Salmon Park. Joint field trips like this are something that we’ve discussed with the people from the county in the past, so it was exciting to have a role in making one happen.

Being able to see old growth, second growth, and ongoing restoration at the Preserve and visit restored sites of different ages to compare them to the mature forests of the Preserve is exciting. All three sites exist within a few minutes of each other. We’re always delighted to be able to work in concert with other environmental organizations and county agencies, emphasizing that just as all parts of the environment work together, so should all pieces of the environmental community.

The teachers identified their field trip objectives as Salmon, Connections, and Environmental Careers. Each site was responsible for their own part of the field trip, keeping in mind the stated objectives. Since our site is more complicated with the need to hike to the creeks, the Preserve was the first stop. To get students to the other sites and back to school by dismissal, we had very limited time for activities. One of the teachers remembered a watershed web activity that we’d done with a previous class. It’s a great activity that does a fantastic job of showing how all the parts of the watershed are connected and how an imbalance in one part affects the whole. Unfortunately, that activity takes much more than the time that we had available. Working with members of our education advisory committee (members of the public with a passion for environmental education), we found a way to capture the essence of the learning in a quick and simple worksheet exercise to aid students in identifying connections and how everything fits together.

To maximize students’ ability to participate, we broke the students into two groups. While one went on a hike with a trained salmon docent, the others did the connections activity. Then the groups switched. We even took advantage of the WCC crew that was working in Hidden Valley at the time. The WCC crew leader talked to the students about the WCC and where they hoped their time with it would lead. As you can see, we tailored our part of the field trip to meet each identified goal while providing an enjoyable, educational, and memorable experience for the students.

Even with limited time and all the juggling that needed to be done to meet the students’ and teachers’ needs, we made it a full and educational day. That’s what a customized field trip does.

— Katha Miller-Winder
Chair of the Education Committee

MORE TO EXPLORE…

Upcoming events and reminders

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

PRESERVE!

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

INSPIRE!

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

EDUCATE!

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

MORE TO EXPLORE…

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

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

PRESERVE!

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

INSPIRE!

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

EDUCATE!

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

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.
  • 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

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.