By Stefanie Donahue
As part of the North Sound Stewards program, residents in Whatcom and Skagit counties can learn how to protect marine resources in the Salish Sea during two training opportunities in May.
Led by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and the Whatcom County Marine Resources Committee, the program calls on citizen scientist volunteers to conduct intertidal surveys, forage fish surveys, plastics monitoring and sea star wasting syndrome surveys and more.
“The information we collect provides a baseline of data that informs policy, restoration efforts, cleanups and more,” said North Sound baykeeper and lead scientist at RE Sources, Eleanor Hines in a press release. “Citizen scientists are integral to support important work that underfunded agencies cannot do themselves.”
Participation in at least one free training is required to join the North Sound Stewards.
Next month, the public can take part in two trainings, offered from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 5 at the BP Heron Center at Birch Bay State Park, 7290 Birch Bay Drive, and from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 6 at Fidalgo Bay Resort, 4701 Fidalgo Bay Road, in Anacortes.
Volunteers must be willing to commit 50 hours of trainings and surveys over one year. All ages and abilities are welcome; individuals age 18 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.
“People across generations and experiences find it especially rewarding to get outside and quantify the plants and animals that they would see on a casual beach walk,” said Whatcom County Marine Resources Committee member and program participant, Chris Brown.
He added, “You don’t have to come to a beach survey knowing a bunch about mussels, tides or data collection, but you’ll leave having learned something of great value.”
The Northwest Straits Initiative, the Northwest Straits Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and the Cherry Point and Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserves Citizen Stewardship Committees also support the program.
To learn more about North Sound Stewards, visit re-sources.org/north-sound-stewards.