Beans for Bags: North Olympic Salmon Coalition
It is important not just to restore salmon habitat but to educate the community and create long-term citizen stewards. That is why we are excited for our 5th consecutive year of providing our Real Learning Real Work Education Program to youth in Jefferson County. The Real Learning Real Work program teaches students the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills necessary to envision, design, and implement their own salmon habitat restoration project. Through a series of outdoor field trips and classroom visits, students explore different habitats, define an engineering problem, and design and implement their own restoration solution. This year we worked with Blue Heron and Chimacum 7th graders to implement their restoration project at the Snow/Salmon Creek Wildlife Area and along Chimacum Creek.
The funds raised at the co-op will help us run our education programs and further salmon habitat restoration on the North Olympic Peninsula. We are a member-based nonprofit organization, with donations supporting our education programs.
Our success stories are never just our own, all of our projects require community and partner support to be successful. The East Jefferson County community has a salmon-related success story in their own backyard. Thanks to many community volunteers, landowners and partners, Endangered Hood Canal Summer Chum salmon have made a comeback to our local watershed. In the 1980’s a culvert washed out under Irondale Road and eliminated the run of summer chum salmon that call the creek home. Through community efforts to protect their spawning and rearing habitat along Chimacum Creek and volunteers raising salmon to supplement the historic population, we now have 1,500 to 3,000 wild summer chum salmon returning each year! Because of our community, we can all proudly say we all worked together to save a run of salmon.
Throughout the months of January, February and March, we planted nearly 11,300 trees with the help of 280 students, volunteers, and our Washington Conservation Corps crew members. This helped improve the salmon habitat at 13 different sites across the Peninsula, and offsets approximately 48,759.5 tons of carbon!
In March, we received the Out Standing in the Field Award from the North Olympic Land Trust at their annual Conservation Breakfast! For the past five years, the Land Trust has presented this award to individuals or organizations that positively impact the North Olympic Peninsula and its communities. We are very grateful to have received the award and look forward to continued community support as we pursue future goals in salmon habitat restoration and education on the Peninsula. Some of those goals include expanding our education programs and diversifying our volunteer opportunities. We are exploring the possibility of including Sequim Middle School in our Real Learning Real Work program. We are also discussing the addition of Morse Creek and the Pyscht River into our volunteer spawner surveys stretches that are currently conducted in Chimacum Creek.
We also have some exciting restoration news. The Kilisut Harbor Restoration Project that you’ve been hearing about is going to bid this summer! Once a bidder has been confirmed, project construction will begin, with the goal of re-creating 10-20 acres of historic tidal channels and reconnecting a salt marsh linkage between Kilisut Harbor and Oak Bay. These actions will re-establish a migratory passage in an area of excellent nearshore habitat between Kilisut Harbor and Oak Bay for juvenile and adult salmonids, including ESA-listed Hood Canal summer Chum, Puget Sound Chinook and Puget Sound Steelhead.
We also gained two new staff members this year, Hannah Seligmann and Sarah Albert. Hannah Seligmann, our Volunteer and Education Program Manager, has more than eight years of experience teaching environmental education and managing community-based stewardship projects. She has already contributed a lot of new ideas and energy toward our diverse volunteer programs and our Real Learning Real Work education program. Sarah Albert is our new Administrative Assistant, who has been supporting our staff and keeping us organized. We look forward to harnessing their energy in our continued forward momentum.