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.

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.