Grant to Burke Museum for International Conservation Photography Exhibition

Looking Back

In 2009, Mountaineers Foundation awarded a grant to the Burke Museum for a public exhibition of the 2010 International Conservation Photography Awards. The competition was initiated in 1997 by noted conservationist and photographer, Art Wolfe.

The opening of this event was a huge success! Lines to get in and view the photos stretched out the door.

Glorious photos of conservation are a wonderful way to connect those who don’t have easy access to the beauty of nature.

We are proud to be a longtime supporter of the Burke Museum and their unique programs that connect others to the natural world.

Grant to Nature Conservancy for the Skagit River Eagle Project

Looking Back

It’s fun to look back on grants we awarded decades ago and see the ripples from that small start. A 1981 Mountaineers Foundation awarded a grant to the Nature Conservancy for the Skagit River Eagle Project. This project worked to preserve the Skagit River Bald Eagle Natural Area. It’s a project that has borne tremendous fruit since that grant was awarded. The natural area was preserved and in 2002 the Skagit Valley Bald Eagle Interpretive Center was built. Today the Skagit River is arguably the most popular place to view bald eagles in Washington and visitors can participate in winter nature hikes to learn how the health of the area’s ecosystem supports healthy salmon which in turn sustains the bald eagles. And Keta Legacy Foundation is proud to have played our small role in this project which has helped protect a local natural treasure and is connecting people with a now-vibrant ecosystem.

Earth Day 2020

Celebrating 50 years of global and local conservation work

Today, millions of people around the world are celebrating one of the most transformational environmental events of our lifetime – the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It doesn’t seem radical today to talk about pollution, but 50 years ago, few protections were in place to keep our air, land and water safe and clean. It took millions of people marching and rallying to capture the attention of our nation’s leaders and prompt them to take necessary action. Earth Day is often credited as helping spur creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and passage of several landmark environmental policies including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Image credit: Favianna Rodriguez

This day gives us all a chance to reflect on how our actions can make a difference, globally and
locally. This is why we’re incredibly proud that our Community Grants program shares this special 50-year anniversary with such a pivotal worldwide event.

From its founding in 1968, Mountaineers Foundation, now also known as Keta Legacy Foundation, has worked to engage and connect people to the natural world through education, history, and science. Of the many ways we promote conservation and stewardship, our Community Grants program, launched in 1970, is among the most enduring. This program has helped fund hundreds of conservation-focused projects at non-profit organizations throughout the Puget Sound.

In 1970, the same year Earth Day was created; the Foundation’s community grant program funded its first project: a $100 grant for camping education to the newly-founded Central Area Youth Association. That same organization continues to serve Seattle-area youth today and their alumni include Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell and professional athletes like Jason Terry and Corey Dillon.

Hundreds more grants have since followed, supporting countless community partners engaged in conservation and outdoor education efforts large and small.

  • In 1994 a grant to the Elma Game Club was awarded to produce an educational brochure about the community’s conservation needs.
  • In 2002, the Foundation awarded a grant to Bryant Elementary School PTA to facilitate outdoor learning experiences.
  • A grant awarded to Seward Park Audubon Center in 2012 helped them develop curriculum for middle and high school programs that align with Audubon’s fascinating Pacific Flyway conservation work.

“What if instead of holding bake sales to raise money, schools sold ‘tree cards’ and planted trees?” The Northwest Watershed Institute started its Plant-A-Thon project in 2005 and the Foundation awarded them a grant in 2018 to help them expand their program to more Washington schools. Hundreds of children and families have planted tens of thousands of trees and learned how important trees are for salmon and the planet.

Last year we awarded a grant to EarthCorps’ blue carbon project in the Snohomish River Estuary, a project that could help capture nearly 9 million tons of carbon dioxide locally while establishing best practices to be shared nationally.

The grants detailed here are representative of the work done by the Foundation – supporting conservation efforts with partners locally and nationally. All of these, and the hundreds of other grants given by Mountaineers Foundation, are reflections of the spirit of Earth Day.

You can learn more about the organizations and projects you’ve helped us support on our Community Grants page. While we continue to operate our own programs, working with like-minded organizations and groups has always been central to fulfilling our mission. Our beautiful Rhododendron Preserve, our education programs and support for numerous projects such as Braided River books and the Mountaineers Foundation Library – now housed by the North Cascades Institute – are all examples of our collaborative work over the past decades to connect people to healthy ecosystems.

We often spend a lot of time thinking about how much work there is to do in our communities and for our planet and it can be hard to remember how much we’ve achieved. Today – on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day – we hope you’ll spend time reflecting on all the amazing things you have helped Mountaineers Foundation/Keta Legacy Foundation and our community partners accomplish over the past five decades as we continue working together to protect our earth.

Our community grants program is possible because of generous supporters who believe in the Foundation’s work and demonstrates the power of partnership and collaboration. If you are able, please make a meaningful gift today.

  • Thank you for your support,
    Jeff Wirtz, President


Looking Back

Photo credit: Housing Authority

The Mountaineers Foundation has always been rooted in conservation and protecting our environment. The Foundation’s first President, Jesse Epstein, attended the 1972 United Nations Conference on human environment held in Stockholm, Sweden as an official representative of The Mountaineers Foundation. The sixth point of the conference declaration proclaims: “A point has been reached in history when we must shape our actions throughout the world with a more prudent care for their environmental consequences. Through ignorance or indifference we can do massive and irreversible harm to the earthly environment on which our life and well being depend. … For the purpose of attaining freedom in the world of nature, man must use knowledge to build, in collaboration with nature, a better environment.


2020 Spring Update

Dear Foundation friends and supporters,

During these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, the long-term ramifications are certainly being felt by all of us. While many aspects of our daily lives have been put on hold, we are all experiencing a range of emotions about the reality of the situation. Our hearts go out to all those who are faced with difficulties and loss due to this pandemic.

Needless to say, long-planned events recognizing and celebrating this week’s 50th anniversary of Earth Day had to be postponed until a time when we can all connect in person. Meanwhile, we’re hard at work protecting and connecting the systems that sustain all of us. One way we do that is through our community grants program, which is also turning 50 years old this month! Please consider supporting the Foundation’s legacy-building conservation work by donating through this week’s Kitsap Great Give.

We find comfort in knowing that the natural habitat and wildlife at the Rhododendron Preserve is protected thanks to you. Hopefully soon, we will enjoy a much needed visit to the forest, but while Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order is in place, the Preserve is closed to the public.

Since we can’t visit the Preserve for our annual spring exploration, board member Amy Lawrence created a Virtual Trillium Walk for you to enjoy. This time of year, the Preserve is bursting with beautiful spring flowers and relaxing sounds. Thanks to Amy we can all connect to our much loved Preserve! And please share with your friends and family on Facebook. We all look forward to the day when the Preserve can once again welcome visitors!

Please know that our dedicated board of directors continues to focus on our mission and is adapting our work to meet the current situation.

  • Board meetings are being held virtually until it is safe to meet in person. We successfully held our first Zoom meeting in April and it was great to see everyone’s faces!
  • Our community grants committee decided to extend the grant selection process so organizations can adapt to closures. Grant winners will be announced in June of 2020.
  • Our preserve committee is working with intern Holly Walter on a mapping project that will display many different sources of data about the Preserve on ArcGIS.
  • Staff is working full-time from home.

These uncertain times remind us of how important your support is to our mission. Now more than ever, your support will sustain the Foundation’s mission and protect the Rhododendron Preserve. If you are able, please make a meaningful gift today.

The Kitsap Great Give is one opportunity, and we would appreciate your support so we can continue our work together – we at the Foundation are committed to a healthy future for everyone.

Thank you for your support,
Jeff Wirtz