North Olympic Peninsula
Volunteer Opportunities

January 2023
Volunteer Spotlight
Liparidae - The Snailfish

Benthic, but also ranging from the shallowest to the coldest, deepest waters, the Liparidae family, commonly known as the snailfishes, consists of approximately 29 genera and 342 species, with about 90 of them inhabiting the waters of the eastern Pacific coast. Ten species have been identified in the Strait. The common name — “snailfish” — may refer to the sluglike appearance of these adaptive fish. They tend to be smooth, covered in a mucous-like layer, sometimes with a gelatinous layer beneath the skin, an adaptation that may be an aid to buoyancy as well as serving other functions. In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, an encounter with a snailfish is most likely to take place in shallow waters; here the fish might be seen attached with their ventral disc to eelgrass or rocks. To learn more,
read this essay by Stream Steward and Beach Naturalist Susan McDougall (website and Etsy).

Drawing of a Tidepool Snailfish (Liparis florae) by Susan McDougall.

Below are photos of mergansers and a great blue heron foraging along the shoreline, captured by Jeff Taylor, a volunteer member of the Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee.

Photo by Jeff Taylor.
Common Mergansers are large, long-bodied ducks that dive underwater to catch fish. In winter, mergansers form large flocks on inland reservoirs and rivers. They stay in these tight flocks to feed and court during the cold months. In migration and winter, they mix with other fish-eating, diving ducks such as Bufflehead, goldeneyes, and other species of mergansers. (Source).

Photo by Jeff Taylor.

The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is an iconic species representing the interconnectedness and ecological richness of the Salish Sea. As a predator and nearshore-associated species, heron populations are indicative of environmental toxins, the availability and connectivity of shoreline-upland habitat, and the conditions of eelgrass and intertidal habitats. Read more here.

Share the spotlight - If you have a photo of a recent volunteer event you participated in or a nature-inspired work of art, quote, poem, what have you to share with our North Olympic Peninsula volunteers, send it here!
Volunteer Opportunities

Seeking New Board Members - Jefferson County Noxious Weed Control Board
As an environmental regulatory board under RCW17.10, the Jefferson County Noxious Weed Board strives to preserve and protect Jefferson County's ecosystem, agriculture, recreational areas, and citizens from the economic losses and adverse effects associated with noxious weeds. The Board is currently accepting applications for three districts: District 3 (Marrowstone Island/Chimacum/Port Ludlow), District 4 (Olympic and West End), and District 5 (Quilcene and Brinnon). Priority will go to applicants who are involved in the primary production of agriculture in any way. If you are interested in serving as a Board member, contact Sophie DeGroot at or (360) 316-9332.

Dosewallips River Planting - Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group 
When: Saturday, January 7, 10AM-2PM
Location: Dosewallips River (3485 Dosewallips Rd, Brinnon)

Habitat restoration is essential in our efforts to protect and restore Pacific Northwest salmon and steelhead. By installing native trees and shrubs, we create healthier ecosystems for our fish so that their populations can grow and thrive for generations to come. Register here.

Work Party: Harvest Cleanup at Valley View Forest - Jefferson Land Trust 
When: Tuesday, January 10, 10AM-1PM
Location: Valley View Forest in Chimacum

Take advantage of leaf-off season to revisit the 2021 selective harvest area and remove temporary flagging tape that marked individual "leave trees." This work will involve some extra walking over uneven terrain and hauling small logs, but we'll break it up with extra granola bars! More information here.

COASSTLite! Online Beached Bird Survey Training - COASST 
When: Sunday, January 22, 930AM-1230PM 
Location: Online

There are two COASSTLite! virtual trainings to attend before you will be a ‘fully fledged’ COASST beached bird surveyor on your own stretch of coastline. Level 1 (~3 hours) invites new participants to learn how to survey a beach and document beached birds in a standardized way. More information here. Then email to RSVP and receive a link to the webinar.

Work Party: Planting at Valley View Forest - Jefferson Land Trust 
When: Tuesday, January 24, 10AM-1PM
Location: Valley View Forest in Chimacum

To kick off this planting season, the Land Trust will be welcoming a few new fir seedlings to the sunny openings within the harvest area. These seedlings will add species diversity and drought resistance to our future forest. More information here.

Native Planting - North Olympic Salmon Coalition 
When: Saturday and Sunday, January 28 & 29
Location: Caldero side channel, Dungeness River

The Caldero side channel project creates nearly 1,000 feet of off-channel habitat for both spawning adult salmon and rearing juveniles along the Dungeness River. Join NOSC to plant native trees and shrubs at the Caldero side channel site! It will be a festive occasion with hot cocoa, coffee and treats. More information here and register here (or register here for the February 18 and 19 planting).

Volunteer at the Demo Park - Jefferson County Master Gardener Foundation 
When: January 11 and 25 (2nd and 4th Wednesday each month)
Location: Port Townsend Demo Park

Help with specific tasks and organic garden maintenance to give the city a colorful welcoming spot with year-round interest. The garden offers volunteers a chance to study how to manage a maturing garden of small trees, mixed shrubs, perennials, bulbous plants, and pollinators, which have been selected for color, harmony and seasonal change. Volunteers also learn about irrigation, propagation, pruning and potting up seedlings for the annual plant sale. More information here and contact

Bird Monitoring at the Duckabush Estuary - Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group
When: Through Spring 2023
Location: Duckabush Estuary

The Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group is looking for volunteers to help document shorebird presence in the Duckabush estuary before restoration work begins. If you have binoculars and feel fairly confident with shorebird/estuary bird ID and are looking for an excuse to get out and BIRD every now and then for 15 minutes, please email To learn more about the Duckabush Estuary Restoration Project and to watch a short video demonstrating the future plans for the new estuary spanning bridge, visit:

Volunteer Opportunities Close to Home
  • 50 Ways to Love Your Ocean: As recommended by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, here are 50 ways you can support ocean and coast conservation while at home and work, on vacation, during the holidays, etc.
  • Boat Harassment Reporting: If you observe harassment or disturbance of marine mammals, please help by reporting it as soon as possible to NOAA Fisheries enforcement hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or the WDFW enforcement line at 877-933-9847 and/or report online at
  • Climate Actions for Households & Individuals: Change is needed throughout the system and these individual actions play an essential role in the transition we need to address the climate crisis.
  • COASST: Conduct monthly surveys to build a record of the amount of beached birds and/or marine debris that wash up on local coastlines. Learn more here.
  • Coastal Beach Cleanups: On your next group trip to the WA coast, consider organizing a small beach cleanup through the Olympic National Park's Vacation Volunteers-In-Parks (VIPs) program.
  • CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow): Join a network of backyard weather observers in Washington State. Learn more here.
  • European Green Crab Reporting: Learn how to identify the European green crab with these great online resources from WA Sea Grant's Green Crab Team and report any suspected green crabs using WDFW's online form here, and keep an eye out for volunteer trainings.
  • iNaturalist: Share photos and observations of the biodiversity along your beach and trail walks, crowdsource species identifications, and organize BioBlitz events with the "iNaturalist" app on your smart phone or online.
  • Invasive Species Reporting: Help the WA Invasive Species Council with early detection of invasive species! Learn how to report sightings here.
  • Marine Mammal Strandings: If you happen to come across a stranded marine mammal on your next beach outing, be sure to share the shore (i.e., give wildlife ample space) and share what you see: report an injured, sick or dead marine mammal anywhere on the West Coast of the U.S. by calling the West Coast Region Stranding Line: (866) 767-6114 - OR - if you’re in East Jefferson County, contact the PT Marine Science Center directly at (360) 385-5582 x 103 and leave a detailed message. You can also email photos and information about local strandings to and leave a contact phone number so they can reach you with questions. 
  • MyCoast: Contribute photos and observations of beach changes, storm surges and king tide events (see the king tides calendar here), large marine debris, creosote, and abandoned vessels with the "" app on your smart phone or online. More information can be found here.
  • OrcaSound: Listen through a library of recordings to learn about ocean sounds. With a little practice, you’ll be able to recognize many common sounds and help contribute interesting observations. Learn more here.
  • Sapsuckers: Share sap flow data from actively tapping big leaf maples on your property here.
  • Western Red Cedar Dieback Map Project: Share your observations of healthy and unhealthy Western red cedar trees through the "Western Redcedar Dieback Map Project" group on iNaturalist to help WSU researchers understand the causes of Western red cedar dieback. Learn more about the project and how you can contribute here.
  • Whale Sightings: If you happen to see whales while on your next beach outing, report it to Orca Network at and cc:, or call (866) ORCANET (866-672-2638). Take photos, making sure to capture the flukes (tail) and backs and dorsal fins if present, to help make an I.D. 
  • Zero Waste 101: New to Zero Waste? Here are some great beginner blog posts to start making easy, every day low-waste lifestyle changes.
If none of these opportunities appeal to you, try searching SciStarter to find the perfect fit!
In-Person Educational Events

Lottery Registration Open: "Tidelands to Timberline" Naturalist Course - Jefferson Land Trust
When: April 2023; Lottery registration open now through midnight January 13 ($375)
Location: East Jefferson County
The popular Tidelands to Timberline Northwest Naturalist Course is back! This eight-week, field-based course offers committed participants the chance to become intimately familiar with the natural history and ecosystems of the northeast Olympic Peninsula, absorb the knowledge and passion of some of the greatest naturalists in the area, and experience firsthand the amazing interconnections of diverse local ecosystems from the sea up to the mountains. More information here.

Bull Kelp: Our Remarkable Underwater Forests - PT Marine Science Center
When: Fridays-Sundays, January 6 - February 26, 12-3PM
Location: PTMSC Gallery at Flagship Building
A family friendly traveling exhibit exploring the vital worlds of kelp forests just off our shores. This is a combination 3D experience of a bull kelp forest and its creatures with 7 illustrated interpretive panels, video and sound. More information here.

"Birdscaping": Inviting Birds to Your Backyard - Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society
When: Saturday, January 7, 10AM-12PM
Location: Dungeness River Nature Center, Rainshadow Hall

Learn about the relationship between native plants and native birds—and the ways you can turn your own yard into a wildlife sanctuary! Wildlife Guide and Plant Ecologist Carolyn Wilcox will share her insights based on a decade of experience as an Olympic Peninsula guide and as a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary manager. More information here.

The Future of Oceans: "Architecture as a Tool for Action" - PT Marine Science Center
When: Sunday, January 8, 3-4PM
Location: Fort Worden Chapel
We know that buildings contribute up to 40% of global carbon emissions. Our spaces and built places must become part of our climate future. In this talk we will hear from Mark Johnson about current initiatives, strategies, and opportunities that we can strive for as a global community. More information here.

Bird Gardening - Jefferson County Master Gardener Foundation

When: Thursday, January 12, 3-5PM
Location: WSU Classroom (97 Oak Bay Rd) in Port Hadlock
Join the Foundation meeting to hear birder Steve Hampton share which trees and plants are important for local bird species, and how to turn your yard into habitat that supports them. More information here.

Glimpses Lecture Series: "European Green Crab-Invasion and Impacts" - Coastal Interpretive Center
When: Thursday, January 19, 7-9PM ($10)
Location: Ocean Shores Lions Club
The European green crab (Carcinus maenas) is notoriously known as one of the world’s most damaging invasive species. Here in coastal Washington, we’ve been seeing an increase in green crab populations in our large estuaries. Learn more about the extent of this species in our state, understand why it’s such a threat in Washington, and learn more about what we are trying to do about it.
More information here.

The Future of Oceans: "Recovering Pinto Abalone" - PT Marine Science Center
When: Sunday, January 22, 3-4PM
Location: Fort Worden Chapel
Pinto abalone in Washington waters have undergone long-term declines, are currently at an extreme low abundance and are facing potential population collapse. Puget Sound Restoration Fund leads a collaboration of recovery partners aiming to rebuild stocks to self-sustaining levels. Over the past decade, partners have carefully released 45,000 genetically diverse, healthy Pinto abalone to 28 restoration sites in the San Juan Archipelago, setting the stage for scaled up recovery efforts to save this iconic species. Join Josh Bouma, Abalone Recovery Program Director at Puget Sound Restoration Fund, in learning more about Pinto abalone restoration efforts. More information here.

Fourth Saturday Birding in the Park - Friends of Fort Flagler
When: Saturday, January 28, 9AM-12PM
Location: Fort Flagler State Park

As of December, birding and nature tours are being held on the 4th Saturday of each month. Wear sturdy footwear and dress for changeable weather, bring binoculars and your own water. Program is dependent on good weather. More information here and register by emailing trip leader Beverly McNeil with subject line "Birdwatching Walk" at

The Future of Oceans: "Stage 8 Restoration: The How's and Why's of NOSC's Upcoming River Restoration Work" - PT Marine Science Center
When: Sunday, January 29, 3PM
Location: Fort Worden Chapel 

This program will showcase upcoming river restoration work on the Olympic Peninsula. The solutions to repairing these reaches will serve as a jumping off point to begin to explore stream evolution, just what happened to the reaches, why they evolved to look the way they do now, and how they can be restored to some of their previous glory to the benefit of fish, wildlife and people. More information here.

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Online Educational Events

Forestry Stewardship University - WSU Extension Forestry 
When: Any time!
Forest Stewardship University is a set of on-demand, self-paced, and peer-reviewed online learning modules on a variety of forest stewardship topics. The modules are geared toward owners of forested and wooded property in the state of Washington as well as anyone interested in learning more about Pacific Northwest forests. More information and registration here.

Winter Quarter 2023 Environmental Speaker Series - Western WA University

When: Thursdays, January 5-26, 430-530PM
The Environmental Speaker Series, at WWU's College of the Environment, presents topics of environmental concern and is free and open to the public. More information here and subscribe here to receive announcements of upcoming speakers (in order to register and receive the Zoom link for each talk). This month's talks include:
-- Jan 5: "What Dead Birds Tell Us About a Warming World" - Julia Parrish
-- Jan 12: "How Youth Activism Upended the U.S. Politics of Climate Change" - Nick Engelfried
-- Jan 19: "Earth Observation of Wetlands - Unlocking the Promise of Tomorrow from Patterns of the Past" - Meghan Halabisky
-- Jan 26: "Seeing Forests From 3-D Perspective: Opportunities and Challenges of LiDAR Technology in Forest Ecology" - Guang Zheng

Forestry Lunch Breaks: WA Birds - WSU Extension Forestry

When: Monday-Friday, January 9-13, 12-1230PM (Register by Jan 8)
Washington State and the greater Pacific Northwest are home to many species of birds. Private timberlands can serve as critical habitat for many of these species, partly because these forests tend to be more diverse in species composition in structure. In this series, multiple types and species of birds native to Washington and how forest owners can enhance bird habitat on their property will be discussed. More information and registration here.
-- Jan 9: Owls (Ken Bevis, WA DNR)
-- Jan 10: Birds of Prey (Gary Bell, WA DNR)
-- Jan 11: Waterfowl (Brent Haverkamp, WA DNR)
-- Jan 12: Excavators (Ken Bevis, WA DNR)
-- Jan 13: Songbirds (Brent Haverkamp, WA DNR)

Learning Our Landscape: Archaeology - Jamestown S'Klallam Tribal Library and North Olympic History Center (NOHC)

When: Thursday, January 12, 3-430PM
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and North Olympic History Center have partnered to bring you this monthly series exploring the rich history, culture, and environment of the North Olympic Peninsula. In this talk, you'll learn about archaeology with Dr. Gary Wessen. More information and Zoom details here.

Bird Gardening - Jefferson County Master Gardener Foundation

When: Thursday, January 12, 3-5PM
Join the Foundation meeting to hear birder Steve Hampton share which trees and plants are important for local bird species, and how to turn your yard into habitat that supports them. More information here.

Climate on Tap: What Happened in Egypt? Summary of COP27 - Local 20/20)

When: Thursday, January 12, 7-830PM
From November 6-20, COP27 held high-level events, key negotiations, and press conferences, hosting more than 100 Heads of State and Governments, over 35,000 participants, and numerous pavilions showcasing climate action around the world. Was progress made? Hear the main take-aways and future commitments and plans. What can we do locally? This is not a lecture series, but a discussion format with a focus on action taking. For link and further information email Laura Tucker at or call 360-379-4491.

Garry Oak Restoration - WA Native Plant Society: Olympic Peninsula Chapter
When: Tuesday, January 17, 630PM

Robert Steelquist will present an overview of Garry Oak natural history in the Pacific Northwest, restoration efforts on the Sequim Prairie, Garry oaks in deep time and Indigenous ethnobotany and immaiplications in a changing climate. Register here.

Northern Elephant Seals in the Pacific Northwest - Friends of Fort Flagler
When: Wednesday, January 25, 7-830PM

Learn about Northern elephant seal natural history and distribution and discuss common causes of stranding in Northern elephant seals, field assessments and recent hospital cases. More information and registration here.
Strait ECO Events Calendar

This monthly newsletter can be a great resource for planning ahead, especially as registration for some events fill up quickly. However, new opportunities can also pop up throughout the month. Be sure to check the Strait ECO Events calendar from time to time, so you don't miss out on any environmental education or stewardship events on the North Olympic Peninsula!

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Videos, Podcasts & Reads

Port Townsend Recognizes Legal Rights of Southern Resident Orcas
On Dec. 5, David Faber, the mayor of Port Townsend signed a proclamation declaring the inherent rights of orcas. These include "the right to life, autonomy, culture, free and safe passage, adequate food supply from naturally occurring sources, and freedom from conditions causing physical, emotional, or mental harm." While the proclamation is not legally binding, they serve as value statements and community affirmations that can inspire further action. Read more here.

Fields of Blue: the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe's Efforts to Revive the Native Camas Plant, and the Ecosystems, Knowledge, and Sovereignty that Once Flourished Around It
Blue camas, a common prairie flower, grows from a starchy bulb that was once a staple carbohydrate in the diets of the S’Klallam people and other neighboring tribes. Today, less than 3 percent of the native prairies that once covered the state remain. Read more here about the Jamestown Tribe's prairie ecosystem restoration efforts and vision for self-sufficiency, community participation, and bounty.

Razor Clam Digs On All Coastal Beaches Remain Closed Due to High Acid Levels
Recreational razor clam season on all coastal beaches are closed until further notice after test results revealed domoic acid levels were above health guidelines for safe consumption. Read more here.

Podcast: Nature Now!
Nature Now is a radio program that presents eclectic and authentically local news, insights and observations about the natural world around us.
-- Think Like a Geologist: This episode aired on December 7 features Marcia Bjournerud, Professor of Geology and Environmental Studies at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, exploring geological evidence and understanding of the passage of time.
Additional Resources
Know the Land You're On
Native Land Digital aims to improve the relationship of people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, with the land. Use this interactive map to begin learning about the land you're on, the real lived history of Indigenous peoples who have been living on and stewarding that land from time immemorial, your place within that history, and as an expression of gratitude and appreciation.

Resources for Racial Justice, Anti-Racism, and Allyship in the Outdoors
Conservation Northwest has compiled a list of ways to educate yourself and support organizations working to dismantle systemic oppression and advance justice, equity, and inclusion. Learn more about organizations in WA working for the environment and the people:
Speaker Series & Educational Video Archives
There are treasure troves of talks and videos focused on the Salish Sea bioregion - covering the natural wonders, environmental issues, and stewardship efforts, from mountain to sea - that are available for you to explore online. You are bound to find speakers and topics that pique your interest!

WSU Shore Stewards Newsletter
Shore Stewards is published 4-6 times per year, and is full of great information about marine science, and living on our Pacific Northwest shorelines.  View the latest edition on Dangers to the Dungeness Crab (Summer 2022) here.

WSU Water Currents Newsletter
Water Currents is a free online publication produced by WSU Extension’s Water Resources Team focused on projects and research on Washington's water quality. View the latest issue (December 2022) here.

The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound
Want more to read? The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound provides a wide range of articles related to Puget Sound in over 90 different categories, including algae, invertberates, stormwater, tidal energy, human quality of life and traditional ecological knowledge. This website has the most comprehensive and up-to-date information readily available. You may also enjoy the Puget Sound Fact Book.

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