Want to help revive the Elwha?

DSC_1241Today’s story about the uncertain future of the Elwha River’s re-vegetation project sparked some questions about how people can help.

Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to get one’s hands dirty (and wet, and cold) as a volunteer at the Albright Native Plant Center in Sequim or during a planting party on the river.

It’s not for everyone. The recent replanting party I joined involved walking knee-deep through a river channel, a bit of a hike and hours of digging.

DSC_1099DSC_1060As Laurel Moulton, one of the project leaders, said, “I have people stand in the rain and dig holes — and they thank me for it in the end.”

The volunteers I spoke with were all smiles.

“The river changes every single time I come out,” said Stephen Lowe of Sequim. “It’s a river that’s alive.”

The planting season just ended, but the volunteer work parties should start up again in October and run until March. One or two parties are scheduled each month. Call (360) 683-0757 to find out what’s scheduled when fall comes around.

DSC_1230The native plant center offers year-round volunteer opportunities. Drop in anytime between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Mondays and Wednesdays, to see where you can help with watering, weeding, potting, etc. It’s a fascinating place, and its staff truly value their volunteers.

DSC_1306“The volunteers have been essential here,” botanist David Allen told me during a tour. “They built it and they’ve been helping out with everything ever since.”

The center is in Robin Hill Farm County Park – a really nice park with a section of the Olympic Discovery Trail running through. The address is 323 Pinnell Rd.,
Sequim. The center’s entrance is about 600 feet west of the park’s main parking area.

For more info, head over here: https://www.nps.gov/olym/getinvolved/supportyourpark/elwha-revegetation-crew.htm

DSC_1301Photos: Tristan Baurick/Kitsap Sun

Beach naturalist training series begins Thursday

BeachNaturalistsVolunteer beach naturalist groups do some pretty interesting work in Kitsap.

Besides learning a great deal while exploring local beaches, the naturalists have the opportunity to take part in important research.

A good recent example was the Bainbridge Beach Naturalists’ participation in a region-wide investigation that used thousands of mussels to reveal evidence that human-caused contaminants are creeping into all parts of Puget Sound.

Click here in case you missed our story on that.

The Washington State University’s Kitsap Extension is recruiting a fresh batch of naturalists this week. On Thursday, they’ll start their annual beach naturalist training in downtown Poulsbo.

The training involves five evening classes and a few field trips.

“We’ll learn about sea stars, clams, crabs, and other cool critters – as well as seaweeds and plants that live on our beaches,” said Lisa Rillie of the Kitsap Extension.

Graduates of the program can volunteer on several service projects, including helping with beach exploration trips and monitoring projects like the one mentioned above.

Here are the details:

When: Thursday evenings, April 7 – May 5 from 6 pm to 9 pm.
Where: Poulsbo Marine Science Center, 18743 Front St.
Who: Adults and teens are welcome to attend. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
Cost: Cost for 5 weeks is $75. Scholarships are available.

More info: Contact Lisa Rillie at lrillie@co.kitsap.wa.us or register online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2473129. Space is limited.

Photo: Bainbridge Beach Naturalists assist on a state Department of Fish & Wildlife mussel monitoring project in February . By Steve Zugschwerdt

Several days of razor clamming set for April

ClamsAprilState fisheries managers approved a big batch of razor clamming days for the first part of April.

Here’s the schedule:

  • April 4, Monday, 5:04 p.m.; 0.1 feet; Long Beach
  • April 5, Tuesday, 5:51 p.m.; 0.0 feet; Long Beach
  • April 6, Wednesday, 6:36 p.m.; 0.0 feet; Long Beach
  • April 7, Thursday, 7:07 a.m.; -0.6 feet; Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • April 8, Friday, 7:54 a.m.; -1.1 feet; Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • April 9, Saturday, 8:42 a.m.; -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Copalis
  • April 10, Sunday, 9:32 a.m.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Mocrocks
  • April 11, Monday, 10:23 a.m.; -0.9 feet; Long Beach
  • April 12, Tuesday, 11:19 a.m.; -0.4 feet; Long Beach

Note that the opening switches from evening to morning tides beginning April 7.

The state Dept. of Fish & Wildlife delayed the razor clam season due to high levels of domoic acid, a toxin produced by marine algae. Toxin levels at Twin Harbors Beach remain above the threshold (20 parts per million) set by public health officials, and remains closed for clam digging.

Razor clams at Twin Harbors had the highest levels of domoic acid during the peak of the harmful algae bloom in 2015,  and it’s taking longer for clams there to rid themselves of the toxin, said  Fish & Wildlife shellfish manager Dan Ayres.

Twin Harbors may not open this spring. Fish & Wildlife continues to monitor toxin levels  will announce openings on the department’s razor clam webpage.

Photo: Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

New energy drink made from Bremerton’s drug-spiked wastewater

WasteWater WildWhere scientists see an environmental problem and Bremerton’s city leaders see a public relations embarrassment, two local entrepreneurs see money – and lots of it.

“When we heard the news, a lightbulb just went on in my head,” said Alex ‘Blaine’ Layder, a resident of Poulsbo. “And I was, like, ‘We can sell this stuff, bro.'”

Layder and business partner Joe King, of Seabeck, are turning Bremerton’s infamously drugged-up wastewater into what industry experts are calling the world’s first energy drink derived from an assortment of prescription medications and illegal drugs found in municipal wastewater.

They call it ‘Wastewater Wild.’ If approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the drink – chock full of uppers, downers, hormones, pain killers and a random assortment of diabetes and high blood pressure meds – could hit stores in time for summer. Flavors will include grape, raspberry, watermelon, lemon-lime and ‘blue.’

In February, government and university scientists published a report revealing that high concentrations of cocaine, methamphetamine, caffeine, antidepressants and other drugs were flowing into Puget Sound from Bremerton’s sewage treatment plant. Salmon visiting the waters off Bremerton were found to have high levels of caffeine, steroids and other chemical compounds.

Having undergone a rigorous treatment process to remove solids and bacteria before release, the wastewater is considered ‘clean’ when it’s pumped into Sinclair Inlet, said the plant’s manager, Sue Widge.

It’s unclear whether such effluent is safe for human consumption.

“Hey, it’s clean, man. I mean, it’s clean enough,” Layder said. “If it’s clean enough for those salmon and orca whales – which I think are, like, endangered species – then it’s clean enough for everybody, right?”

“And besides, all this stuff came out of people in the first place,” King added. “We’re just putting it back.”

“Yeah!” exclaimed Layder. “We’re, like, recycling. You know? Go green!”

The makers of Wastewater Wild plan to market their drink to practitioners of ‘extreme sports.’

“Oh, yeah, this is going to be big – whitewater kayaking, bungee jumping, hang gliding, freediving, BASE jumping, pickleball…” King said.

“Imagine all that while drinking this,” Layder said before chugging a can of Wastewater Wild.

Another key demographic might be weekend warriors looking to spice up a day of skiing or mountain biking.

“Just imagine the rush of Prozac, Flonase, Paxil, Cipro, Zantac, Lipitor and, like, who knows what else hitting you all at once when you’re shredding the singletrack up at Stottlemeyer,” King said.

Wastewater Wild is not without side effects. The full impact of consuming a multitude of chemical compounds found in wastewater has not been fully studied.

“It’s true there’s side effects,” said Layder, who began to shiver and sweat after crushing his empty can. “Like right now, I’m pretty stoked, but I think the walls of my heart are on fire. And, bro, could you gimmie that bandana? I think I might cry blood again.”

A preliminary list of side effects can be found below.

Hives, restlessness, bleeding from eyes, cool pale skin, itchy scalp, delusions of grandeur, twitchy toes, slippery nose, knowing where the wind blows, burning sensation under eyelids, diarrhea, difficulty with concentration, dryness of the mouth,  excessive hunger, loss of appetitive, fast or irregular heartbeat, no heartbeat, puffy elbows, sweaty elbows, joint or muscle pain, joint disjointing, drowsiness, staying awake for a week or more, tooth loss, severe tooth growth, trouble breathing, swelling of ankles or hands, forgetting to remember, remembering to forget, shivering, shaking, feelings of vim and/or vigor, unusual facial movements, headache, blindness, seeing too much, seeing into the heart of the matter, lack of energy, unpleasant breathe odor, breathe odor reminiscent of Skittles and cauliflower, liver rupture, lung collapse, itching along inner-dome of the skull, constipation, blue-yellow color blindness, seeing colors no one else can, excessive use of the phrase ‘just sayin,’ spontaneous combustion, blistering elbows, loosening of skin around elbows, creaky elbows, elbow loss, clay-colored stool, wood-colored stool, blood in stool, stool in stool, vomiting, depression, violent ennui, bleeding gums, fainting, noisy breathing, noisy ears, nosy neighbors, nosy nose, hostility, excessive weight gain, red lumps everywhere except elbows, yellow eyes or skin, swollen or painful glands, slurred speech, giving speeches, feelings of sluggishness or weakness, hair loss, excessive hair growth on elbows, scaly skin, howling at the moon, mooing at the sun, yawning, stomach cramps, ouchies all over.

  • E D I T O R ‘ S   N O T E :  A p r i l  F o o l s !

Lots of razor clamming on the horizon

RazorClamsThree days of coastal razor clamming have been confirmed and nearly 20 are likely next month.

That’s the word from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, which today nailed down the following low-tide digs at Mocrocks:

  • March 25, Friday, 8:31 a.m.; 0.7 feet
  • March 26, Saturday, 9:06 a.m.; 0.6 feet
  • March 27, Sunday, 9:42 a.m.; 0.7 feet

Another option is Long Beach, which is currently open for digging through March 31.

The Mocrocks dig is scheduled on morning tides and ends at noon each day. The Long Beach dig switches from evening to morning tides, as shown on Fish & Wildlife’s website.

Fish & Wildlife’s list of proposed digs in April will be made official after routine marine toxin test results come back. Shellfish managers will announce a final decision on the digs before the end of this month.

Here are the proposed dig dates:

  • April 3, Sunday, 4:13 p.m.; 0.5 feet; Long Beach
  • April 4, Monday, 5:04 p.m.; 0.1 feet; Long Beach
  • April 5, Tuesday, 5:51 p.m.; 0.0 feet; Long Beach
  • April 6, Wednesday, 6:36 p.m.; 0.0 feet; Long Beach
  • April 7, Thursday, 7:07 a.m.; -0.6 feet; Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • April 8, Friday, 7:54 a.m.; -1.1 feet; Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • April 9, Saturday, 8:42 a.m.; -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Copalis
  • April 10, Sunday, 9:32 a.m.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach, Mocrocks
  • April 11, Monday, 10:23 a.m.; -0.9 feet; Long Beach
  • April 12, Tuesday, 11:19 a.m.; -0.4 feet; Long Beach
  • April 20, Wednesday, 6:25 a.m.; 0.6 feet; Long Beach
  • April 21, Thursday, 7:01 a.m.; 0.2 feet; Long Beach
  • April 22, Friday, 7:35 a.m.; 0.0 feet; Long Beach
  • April 23, Saturday, 8:08 a.m.; -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Mocrocks
  • April 24, Sunday, 8:42 a.m.; -0.2 feet; Long Beach
  • April 25, Monday, 9:18 a.m.; -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Mocrocks
  • April 26, Tuesday, 9:56 a.m.; -0.1 feet; Long Beach, Mocrocks
  • April 27, Wednesday, 10:39 a.m.; 0.1 feet; Long Beach
  • April 28, Thursday, 11:28 a.m.; 0.3 feet; Long Beach

RazorClamMapThe proposed digs on April 9 and 10 coincide with the Long Beach Razor Clam Festival. The festival will have free razor clam digging lessons and other attractions. Find out more here.

Shellfish managers recommend that diggers hit the beach an hour or two before low tide.

Diggers can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Basically, if you break it, you keep it. Tossing back clams you smashed with your clam gun.

Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

All diggers age 15 or older need a fishing license. Info on licenses is available here.

Top photo courtesy of Fish & Wildlife.

VIDEO: Bainbridge arborist climbs tall trees to save kitties

Climbing a towering tree is daunting enough. Toss in a scared, wet cat at the top and you have Katy Bigelow’s day job. Well, part of it. Bigelow is a Bainbridge Island arborist who specializes in high-climbing tree care.

You might remember her from my story back in 2011, when she was gearing up for a national tree climbing competition. She’s also been organizing some climb-offs on the island.

Lately, Bigelow has been offering her skills to rescue terrified cats that have climbed up trees but can’t seem to climb down.

“Cats simply won’t just come down,” Bigelow said. “Most of my rescues are cats that have been in the tree over three days.”

Arborist Katy Bigelow trains at Gideon Park on Bainbridge Island in 2011. Photo: Brad Camp.
Arborist Katy Bigelow trains at Gideon Park on Bainbridge Island in 2011. Photo: Brad Camp.

Bigelow shared one of her most recent rescues in the helmet cam video above. In it, she climbs a huge cedar in Marysville to rescue a 20-pounder named Dutch, aka “Baby Pancake.” He had spent a very rainy and windy night in the tree. You can hear the misery in his voice. Bigelow pets him and talks him through the process before slipping him into a sack for a safe trip back to the ground.

Dutch gets ready for his descent. Courtesy of Katy Bigelow.
Dutch gets ready for his descent.

“He wasn’t making a sound until I was nearly to him and boy was he in an uncomfortable position, and let me know I was taking my sweet time getting him out,” Bigelow said. “Though he wasn’t too excited about going into a bag, we quickly got to the ground safely and silently, back to his grateful family.”

In another video from last month, Bigelow rescues “Mama” atop a 100-foot-tall Douglas fir in Poulsbo. Mama had been in the tree for nearly a week.

A key cat rescue strategy Bigelow follows is to get her climbing gear ready for the descent before she starts interacting with the cat.

“I am a sucker for kitties in trees, so I do like to give them a little love before the descent, but often their claws come out when you try to stop hugging them,” she wrote on her blog. “Hence, (I make) sure my safety is first before getting us both in trouble.”

Bigelow doesn’t charge a fee for cat rescues but will accept donations.

Her website is here.

Work begins on Poulsbo pump track


The first load of dirt has been dropped. By summer, an old ball field on Little Valley Road will be transformed into what may very well be the largest outdoor pump track in the state.

The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance’s West Sound chapter has begun work on a looping trail system that’ll be filled with berms, banks and jumps. It should be done by August.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 2.02.05 PM

“Beginners can ride it but experts can get more speed and transition from one area to another,” said Brian Kilpatrick, the chapter’s president. “We’re also designing it so we can hold competitions or races.”

Brian said the track will be the largest in the state – that is, if one of the several others in development aren’t finished first.

“We’re shooting for the biggest, but they continue to be made all over, so we might not get that title,” he said.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 2.06.08 PM

The track is being built on a 1.8-acre property the city of Poulsbo acquired from the Kitsap County Parks Department. Formerly known as Little Valley Ball Field, the property wasn’t being cared for by the county and was placed on its ‘surplus’ parks list in 2014.

Evergreen West Sound is paying the $13,000 to develop the track. They’ll leverage their money with volunteer labor and donated materials.

Another pump track in Kitsap has been proposed on Bainbridge Island. Rachel Anne Seymour has more on that here.

Why two pump tracks in Kitsap?

“We have soccer fields in Poulsbo,” Kilpatrick said in Rachel’s story. “We still need them in other places.”

Still not quite sure what a pump track is? Read my first post about the Poulsbo pump track proposal.

Top photo by Brian Kilpatrick.

High tides and winds combine to flood Bainbridge park

DSC_1362Fay Bainbridge Park was turned into a water park this morning.

An already high tide was pushed across the north Bainbridge Island park’s waterfront by  high winds. Campgrounds were flooded, as were picnic areas, a shelter, a volleyball court and most of the parking lot.

DSC_1444About a foot of standing water didn’t dissuade some adventurous kids, who used rubber boots and piggyback rides to get to the partially-submerged playground. That’s Amare Clark, 10, crossing the monkey bars.

DSC_1460Milo McIntosh, 9, ponders sliding into the shallow lake that formed around the park’s playground. Continue reading

Hurricane Ridge open this weekend, but no ski lift


The managers of the Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area plan to be open this Saturday and Sunday, with rope tows, tubing park and terrain park operating.

The Poma lift will remain closed after it malfunctioned last weekend.

The ski lifts were inspected earlier this season, as they are every winter, and will undergo another review this week.

“The review will include a another thorough inspection by an outside ski lift engineering and inspection firm,” Greg Halberg, president of the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club, said in a statement.

The ridge’s visitor center, snack bar and ski shop are scheduled to be open. For more information, visit Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge website. Details about the privately-managed Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area are available here.

Photo: Sledders hike up a hill at Hurricane Ridge in January. Tristan Baurick/Kitsap Sun

EVENT: Presentation on kayaking BC lakes


Local kayak adventurer John Kuntz will give a free presentation tomorrow evening on Bainbridge Island about his recent trip through the wilderness lakes of central British Columbia.


Kuntz, who owns Olympic Outdoor Center in Port Gamble, explored Bowron Lake Park by kayak last year. The park is known for rugged, glacier-capped mountains, deep lakes, waterfalls and abundant moose and other wildlife.

The park’s  main attraction is the 72-mile canoe and kayak circuit through the Cariboo Mountains, which follows lakes, rivers, and short portages between waterways.

Kuntz’s presentation will feature a slide show and videos, as well as logistical tips on planning, gear and permits so you can do the trip yourself.

The presentation is from 7 to 9 p.m. at Seabold Hall, 14450 Komedal Road, just off Highway 305 on the island’s north end.

Photos: Bowron Lake Park, courtesy of John Kuntz.