National Public Lands Day Celebration

An Interpretive Talk on Eelgrass & Its Importance in the Marine Ecosystem - Contributed photo
An Interpretive Talk on Eelgrass & Its Importance in the Marine Ecosystem
— image credit: Contributed photo

“This was a wonderful opportunity for people to connect with their public lands,” said Tim Clark of the San Juan County Land Bank, who participated in the National Public Lands Day celebration at Watmough Bay and other Bureau of Land Management properties on September 24.

Clark led two maintenance projects and a walk during the day. Participants completed public lands maintenance projects, attended a bird watch and tide-pooling activity, and participated in talks on the Chadwick settler family, eelgrass in Watmough Bay, and the Watmough wetlands.

“I was extremely pleased by the amount of work volunteers accomplished and the amount of positive feedback we received on our environmental education stations and talks,” Event Organizer Sara Waugh said. “We had a great turn-out, people had a lot of fun, and we were lucky to have sunny weather all day.”

Volunteers at Point Colville collected a truck-load of beach litter and deposited it at the dump.

Teams at Watmough laid gravel on the southern ridge trail and brushed blackberries back from another trail.

The Chadwick Hill team made sure the trails were clear of overgrowth and debris. Workers at Chadwick Marsh removed non-native ivy and holly.

“Scouring the forest for holly sure is a great activity to get one looking at all the different plant species,” said Volunteer Ben Ruckle.

A variety of wildlife was seen during the day. Bird watchers at Chadwick Marsh spotted green-winged teals, evening Grosbeaks, belted Kingfishers and a Virginia rail.  Event attendees at Watmough viewed great blue herons in flight, river otters fishing, a mink running on the beach, a large number of turkey vultures circling on thermals of hot air, mollusks, eelgrass, and a variety of seaweeds.  Kids and adults enjoyed tide-pooling and splashing in the water.

“The tide-pooling station led by Susie Teague was one of the most popular spots during the day — people could ask questions, explore the water, or browse through the different resource materials available,” Waugh said.

Event leaders and their sponsoring organizations were: Nick Teague and Sara Waugh with the Bureau of Land Management, Charlie Behnke, Tom Snowden and Amanda Wedow with the Lopez Island Conservation Corps, Tim Clark with the San Juan County Land Bank, Mike Higgins with the LopezCommunity Trails Network, and Susie Teague with Whispers of Nature.

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