Sound Water Stewards are trained volunteers working in and around Island County for a healthy, sustainable Puget Sound environment through education, citizen science and stewardship.

2020 SWS Training: Fall Session –  click here for Summer 2020 

The class of 2020 is using salmon as an indicator species in our learning. In what ways are the presentations helping you understand salmon habitat or life cycle? 

Climate Change & Climate Impacts - Dr. Richard Gammon & Harriet Morgan

Gammon on Climate Change: Global climate change will bring major changes to the Pacific Northwest, both on the land and in the coastal environment. This presentation will summarize these projected impacts, drawing on the published work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2013/2014), the latest National Climate Assessment (2017/2018) and the Climate Impacts Group (CIG) at the University of Washington. The global predictions of changing temperature and precipitation will be addressed at the PNW regional scale with discussion of implications for agriculture, water resources, snowpack, sea-level rise, forest and ocean ecosystems.

Morgan on Climate Impacts: An overview of observed and projected climate impacts in western Washington; highlighting a few examples of climate adaptation in the region.

Dr. Richard H. Gammon is Professor (Emeritus) of Chemistry and Oceanography, and Adjunct Professor (Emeritus) of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. He is a former Co-Director of the UW Program on the Environment (2004-2007). He received his BA in Chemistry from Princeton University (1965), and his MA and PhD in Physical Chemistry from Harvard University (1970).

Dr. Gammon was co-author of the First Scientific Assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1990. As Chief of the Carbon Dioxide Program, he directed the US program to globally monitor atmospheric CO2 (NOAA Environmental Research Laboratories, Boulder, 1982-84).

He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in chemistry, oceanography, atmospheric science, biogeochemical cycles, and climate change. His research has emphasized measurement and interpretation of atmospheric trace gases critical to climate change. Dr Gammon remains actively engaged in improving public understanding of the climate change challenge.

Harriet Morgan is a researcher with the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group. Harriet’s professional mission is to provide decision-makers and natural resource managers with the climate science and information they need to effectively build resilience to climate variability and change. Recently, Harriet has worked on generating an updated set of sea level rise projections for Washington State, and has also developed natural resource focused climate change vulnerability assessments and adaptation plans for regional tribes and state agencies. Harriet received a B.S. in Conservation Biology from McGill University and a M.S. in Conservation Ecology from the University of Michigan.

Pre-Class Reading/Viewing:

  • NASA Global Climate Change/Vital Signs of the Planet with tabs for Facts, Articles, Solutions, Explore, Resources, etc. Sea level rise articles, too.
  • NOAA Ocean Today. The Role of Sea Ice in the Ocean/Video with Transcripts In Three Parts:
  • Climate Change Communication: Resources for Making It Stick Marlies Tumolo, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and Bruce Moravchik, National Ocean Service. Ever wonder the best way to talk about climate change? Felt unsure if your message is clear and connects to your audience? Effectively communicating complex issues involves sound science and an element of artistry. This webinar shares climate communication tools from the National Network of Ocean and Climate Change Interpreters (NNOCCI), as well as a way to get involved in the NOAA Climate Stewards Program.
  • The ‘Blob’ Revisted: Marine Heat Waves and the Salish Sea. The Encyclopedia of Puget Sound: Salish Sea Currents MAGAZINE. Years after the appearance of the devastating marine heat wave known as "the blob," scientists are still working to understand how it has affected the Salish Sea. In some ways, they say, it is like the blob never left.
  • Puget Sound’s ‘warm snow’ makes region vulnerable to climate shifts Harriet Morgan is quoted in this article. Climate models project that if carbon emissions continue as they are now, the vast majority of watersheds feeding Puget Sound will receive more rain and far less snow by 2080, causing increased flooding and other dramatic changes to the freshwater ecosystem. We look at the past and possible future of the region's snowpack and what this might mean for salmon and other species — including humans.
  • Climate Change Impacts Impacts from climate change are happening now. These impacts extend well beyond an increase in temperature, affecting ecosystems and communities in the United States and around the world. Things that we depend upon and value — water, energy, transportation, wildlife, agriculture, ecosystems, and human health — are experiencing the effects of a changing climate.
  • Ocean Outbreak: Confronting the Tide of Rising Marine Disease By Drew Harvell
  • NOAA Chart Protecting Our Planet Starts With You. NOAA chart to share with your children, grandchildren, family, & friends.

See last button for MORE INFORMATION

Ocean Acidification, the Natural World of the Salish Sea and Beyond

Ocean acidification is sometimes called the evil twin of climate change. It’s driven by the carbon dioxide being added to the atmosphere, which is changing the chemistry of the oceans. These changes can influence how hard it is to make a shell, or how easy it is for plants and algae to grow. Ocean acidification can affect anything from the survival of tiny oysters to the sense of smell in fish. In this class we will start with some basics about how the ocean waters are changing. Then we will look at some of the more common responses among different kinds of organisms, including some that are common in the Salish Sea. We will explore what we do and don’t know about what happens when things get complicated, like when temperature and carbon dioxide are changing at the same time, or in coastal waters that have many other influences. Finally, we will take a look as what we know about what the future holds and how people and policy makers are addressing the coming changes. 

Before Dr. Brooke Love gives an overview of ocean acification, Scott Cole will explain "The Chemistry Behind Ocean Acidification," which will start with some basic concepts and definitions. Then he will present an example of the water-carbon dioxide interaction from industry. After that he will go through the chemical equation of the water-carbon dioxide reaction. Finally, he will present some information about salmon and ocean acidification.

Scott Cole, SWS Class of 2016, teaches the basics of chemistry needed to understand ocean acidification with biochemistry to understand the impact on life forms. Scott was born in Seattle but the entire family moved to the Los Angeles area after Boeing layoffs in 1964. He received a M.S. in Chemistry from California State University Northridge with an emphasis in Biochemistry and then spent over thirty years working at Baxter Healthcare manufacturing injectable pharmaceuticals. Upon retiring, he and his wife and I relocated to the Coupeville area of Whidbey Island. Scott remarks, "like a salmon I returned home but luckily I did not have to swim to here!"

Dr. Brooke Love is an oceanographer interested in how ocean acidification is unfolding in our local Washington waters. A chemical oceanographer by training, she started at the University of Washington by building instruments to measure carbon dioxide in high temperature black smokers on the sea floor.

Now at Western Washington University as an Associate Professor, she studies how ocean acidification affects organisms ranging from plankton, to eelgrass to herring. This involves a lot of plumbing, and she is always happy with a box of fittings and some tubing.

Brooke is also dedicated to ocean education in the classroom, in public talks, and currently as the academic director of the new program in Marine and Coastal Science at WWU.

Pre-Class Reading/Viewing: 

Sea Level Rise

Valued habitat for wild salmon and diverse wildlife, industry, agriculture, and a growing human population that is expected to double by the year 2060 across Puget Sound are increasingly vulnerable to the combined effects of larger river floods, higher sea level, and storm surges caused by climate change.

Dr. Eric Grossman of the U.S. Geological Survey will present an update of what the science is telling us about impending coastal change, what is at stake and the new Puget Sound Coastal Storm Modeling System (PS-CoSMoS) assessment tool his team is developing. PS-CoSMoS predicts the interaction of coastal storms and waves in conjunction with sea level rise and changes in river flows/floods to evaluate the extent and joint probability of compound flooding as well as their impacts to coastal lands and resources. Dr. Grossman will also describe how he engages SoundStewards and other citizen science volunteers in his team's research to better document and identify coastal changes and gather information to test model skill.

Dr. Eric Grossman is a coastal and marine geologist and geophysicist with the U. S. Geological Survey Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, stationed at WWU. His research focuses on coastal geomorphology, sediment transport and nearshore habitat change. Eric leads development of the Puget Sound Coastal Storm Modeling System and the USGS Coastal Habitats in Puget Sound (CHIPS) Project, which together help inform communities, planners and decision-makers of opportunities to mitigate and adapt to natural hazards and climate change impacts with an emphasis on habitats and ecosystem restoration efforts that ultimately benefit people. Dr. Grossman holds a PhD in Geology and Geophysics from the University of Hawaii. He serves as Tribal Liaison for the USGS Natural Hazards Mission Area and is an active member of the Skagit Climate Science Consortium.

Pre-Class Reading/Viewing: 

For Further Investigation

Island County Hydrogeology

In this session, you will gain a basic understanding of groundwater science including aquifers and aquitards, risks to ground water and local groundwater availability. You will learn about the genesis and function of our aquifers and aquitards. You will also learn about the risks to our water resources, such as contamination and over-use, and how government agencies work to protect our water resources. The presentation will also provide details regarding local groundwater availability and issues.

Doug Kelly is a Hydrogeologist with Island County Environmental Health. He was born and raised in central Illinois. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from Eastern Illinois University and a Master of Science degree in Geology/Hydrogeology from the University of Illinois. He is licensed in the State of Washington as a Geologist and a Hydrogeologist. He worked seven years in the Groundwater Section of the Illinois State Water Survey, a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, five years at the Olympia, WA office of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), environmental division (consulting). Doug came to Island County over 20 years ago and worked for twelve years as the County's first Hydrogeologist, leaving the county in 2008 to work for Pacific Groundwater Group in Seattle. Doug returned to county employment in February of 2012. He is married and has two children.

Pre-Class Reading/Viewing: 

Native Plants to Enhance Land & Sea

Native plants will be the focus, with the bigger picture as to how native plants enhance our marine ecosystems through protection and management of stormwater. In this presentation, areas of emphasis will include

  1. Your Local Conservation District
  2. The State of the Salish Sea
  3. The Salish Sea and You
  4. A Spectrum of Solutions: Native Plants
  5. Sit Spot Activity
  6. Let's Get Started

Kelsi Mottet, Natural Resource Planner, Whidbey Island Conservation District

Kelsi joined the Whidbey Island Conservation District team in fall 2016 and served as the Marketing, Education & Outreach Coordinator for three years. In 2019, she transitioned into the role of Natural Resource Planner, offering technical planning assistance with emphases on forestry, farm and ranch operations, and also coordinates the Whidbey Island Firewise Program on property wildfire preparedness. A fifth-generation Whidbey Island native with a family history in agriculture, forestry, and the trades, Kelsi has over thirteen of years' experience in the fields of natural resources and education. She is a graduate of Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University, and holds a Masters of Education with a Certificate in Non-Profit Leadership & Administration.

Pre-Class Assignment: 

  • “Sit Spot” Pre-Class Assignment from Kelsi
    • Select a location on your property or yard nearest what you think are native plants and spend around 15 minutes observing and noticing what you see, hear, smell, etc. Use this link https://bit.ly/2KUws4Q to my common native shrubs and trees of the Northwest to tally up which of these plants you saw during your Sit Spot. ·         
    • You can spend more time during the Sit Spot writing and not just observing these plants/familiarizing yourself with them based on my plant cards linked above. Choose one plant that strikes you as interesting and fill out my Native Plant Worksheet at https://bit.ly/3b2mEAu.
    • If you want to obtain native plant field guides and books ahead of time to aide you in the Sit Spot activity, my Native Plants Book list is linked at https://bit.ly/2StX0hm. You can inquire with the local library about checking out the books ahead of time, or purchase online or at a book store.

Pre-Class Reading/Viewing: 

Plant ID Apps

Overview of Salish Sea Region History with Emphasis on Island County: Change of Worlds 1774 - 1860

Class Description: Lynn Hyde will tell us about the early history of what is now Island County, with emphasis on Whidbey Island and Camano’s Port Susan shores. Penn Cove was the most densely populated and perhaps the most strategically located Salish community in the region, and yet Coupeville today is a sleepy village that time forgot. How did that happen? This class will share the untold dramatic, complex, often disturbing stories of this transition.

And, because it's impossible to cover everything in a 90 minute presentation, the links below provide numerous websites, books and tours for further exploration. 

Lynn Hyde is an educator, historian, preservationist, and Executive Director of Historic Whidbey, a Coupeville nonprofit “committed to the protection, preservation and promotion of historic sites on Whidbey Island through education and advocacy.” A lifelong educator, Lynn left teaching English in Seattle Public Schools to begin a career in public history and historic preservation in 2007, learning the ropes at historic and literary sites during a four-year stint in Concord, Massachusetts. Her first preservation successes came on both coasts: nomination of the 1948 Mountaineers’ Snoqualmie Lodge to the Washington State Heritage Register in 2005 and designation of the 1820s Elizabeth Peabody Book Room (a Transcendentalist hotspot) as a Boston Historic Landmark in 2010. Lynn’s love of Pacific Northwest landscape and history brought her back to Washington in 2011, working as an interpretive specialist and historian at North Cascades National Park, Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve and San Juan Island National Historical Park until 2017.

As a founder of Historic Whidbey in 2013, she has created public programming illuminating the largely unknown history of 19th century western Washington. The organization’s flagship project is the rehabilitation of the 1866 Haller House in Coupeville, which, as a Territorial Heritage Center, will help the public explore the often troubling, always complex stories of American settlement in the Pacific Northwest. An avid hiker and kayaker, Lynn is also the co-author of Crags, Eddies, & Riprap: The Sound Country Memoir of Wolf Bauer. Bauer’s 70-year career as a pioneering climber, kayaker and shoreline ecologist is legendary in the Northwest.

Resources for Learning More: 



  • Historicsitestour.com - Visit historic sites in the Stanwood-Camano area on a virtual tour online OR drive by them while you listen to the audio tour on your phone. Created in Fall 2020 
  • Camano Island Historic Sites and Map
  • Stanwood Area Historical Society - notice more history resources on the bibliography page
  • Exploring Camano Island: A History & Guide - book by local author, FOCIP member and former teacher Val Schroeder – proceeds benefit support Friends of Camano Island Parks (FOCIP) and the Whidbey Camano Land Trust efforts to protect natural habitat on Camano. Read google description. Available through online or in-person bookstores.
  • Stuck in the Mud: The History of Warm Beach - An out-of-print book by Warm Beach (south of Stanwood) author Penny Buse about Captain Vancouver’s exploration of Port Susan Bay and this a unique beach community's history. Full of historical tidbits and hundreds of photos, many in color.
  • Cama Beach: A Guide and a History: How a Unique State Park Was Created from a Family Fishing Resort and a Native American Camping Site, book by Gary Worthington in 2008. Available at the Cama Beach State Park Welcome Center or find it used online

A History of Treaty Rights, The Boldt Decision & Its Current Ramifications for First Peoples and Fishing Sustainability/Resource Management - Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller, Tulalip Tribes' Director of Natural Resources Treaty Rights Office presents a brief look at the history and culture of the Tulalip Tribes with an emphasis on Treaty Rights, tribal sovereignty, and changes in land management since Euro-American contact. Additionally, he will focus on keystone historical events like US v Washington that resulted in the Boldt Decision and its effect on resource management.

Ryan Miller is a Tulalip Tribal member and the Director of Treaty Rights and Government Affairs for the Tulalip Tribes. He has over 15 years of experience working in the Natural Resources field and received his degree in Native Environmental Science from Northwest Indian College.

He is on the board of Qualco Energy and on the steering committee for the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. He represents The Tulalip Tribes on the Snohomish and Snoqualmie Watershed Forums and a number of other forums and committees throughout the State of Washington.

He enjoys serving his community by protecting tribal self-determination, sovereignty and treaty rights and seeing the positive results from the work his department does.

Kip Killebrew of Stillaguamish Tribe leads a virtual tour of Brenner Hatchery

Pre-Class Reading/Viewing: 

Brenner Fish Hatchery Pre-Class Reading/Viewing: 

Stillaguamish Fishing Rights & Practices Pre-Class Reading/Viewing:

Resources for Further Investigation

  • Death by a Thousand Cuts: An examination of regulation enforcement in the Stillaguamish Watershed and the effects on ESA-listed Chinook Salmon, 2016