Category Archives: General

Getting to the Water’s Edge

Available at local stores! Scroll down for store list, or order the book from SWS to be sent to you via US mail.

Getting to the Water’s Edge on Whidbey and Camano Islands, the premier field guide book to beaches in Island County was released as a Third Edition in July 2020. Now is the perfect time to get this book, since the coronavirus means we are all looking for outdoor places close to home.

Getting to the Water's Edge bookGTWE, as we affectionately call this spiral-bound field guide, describes 69 public beaches including amenities such as boat and kayak launches, trails, fishing, clamming, bird-watching, picnic tables/shelters, restrooms, overnight accommodations, accessibility for people with mobility challenges and much more. Yellow box essays cover human and natural history such as place names, stewardship, animals, plants, geology, streams and estuaries.

Getting to the Water’s Edge retails for $20. See a list of stores below. Or buy online directly from Sound Water Stewards

The 2020 edition was two years in the making by 67 Sound Water Stewards and community resource people who gave more than 1,500 hours to bring it forth with meticulous fact-checking, writing, designing and editing. The printing costs were paid entirely by sponsoring businesses, non-profits and SWS members. Proceeds from book sales support Sound Water Stewards programs. 

This book is available now for $20 by mail-order directly from SWS or at book stores, gift shops and hardware stores on Whidbey and Camano as well as in Stanwood, Everett, LaConner and Bellingham. ISBN 978-1-7343529-0-0.

Find Getting to the Water’s Edge at these locations:

Camano Island

  • Ace Hardware
  • Cama Beach State Park Welcome Center
  • Camano Commons Marketplace
  • Elger Bay Grocery & Gifts
  • Kristoferson Farm Stand & Gift Shop


  • Picnic Pantry
  • Studio 271


  • 3 Sisters Market – Coupeville
  • Ace Hardware – Freeland & Oak Harbor
  • Bayview Farm & Garden – Langley
  • Coupeville Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center
  • Greenbank Farm Wine Shop – Greenbank
  • Kingfisher Books – Coupeville
  • Langley Whale Center – Langley
  • Linds on Whidbey – Freeland
  • Madrona Supply Co – Clinton
  • Moonraker Books – Langley
  • Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Exchange – Oak Harbor NAS
  • Wind & Tide Bookshop – Oak Harbor
  • Wild Birds Unlimited – Freeland


  • Alley Cat Antiques
  • Marine Supply & Hardware

LaConner and Fir Island

  • SeaPort Books


  • J. Matheson Gifts, Kitchen and Gourmet


  • Hilton & Co. Gift Shop


  • Village Books & Paper Dreams


  • Edmonds BookShop

Lynnwood – Bellevue – Seattle

  • Made in WA Stores

Learn More


“This book…captures the beauty of these truly stunning places while offering detailed descriptions of habitats and wildlife you are likely to encounter. The book lays out the floor plan to these sites so you will find your way and experience island magic. A ‘must read’ for anyone determined to experience the beauty of the region.” 
–Florian Graner, Ph.D. Marine Biology specializing in Marine Mammals, certified research diver, internationally-known cinematographer of sea life and owner of the family-operated Sealife Productions which has done work for BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Netflix, Monterrey Aquarium and more.
“This user-friendly handbook is brimming with information and beautiful photos… feels akin to having a local friend by your side to share their favorite spots, tips and fun facts… sure to become a well-loved staple…”
–Anna Toledo, Island County Marine Resources Committee

Sea Level Rise – sponsored by Island County Marine Resources Committee

Sponsored by the Island County Marine Resources Committee (MRC), Ian Miller PhD of University of Washington presented to capacity crowds on both Camano and Whidbey Island explaining the causes and possible consequences of sea level rise due to climate change. One source of added water in the oceans is the melting ice above ground that is visible from year-after-year photos of Antarctica and Greenland. When this ice melts, since it wasn’t part of the ocean to start with, it adds volume. Furthermore, rising ocean temperatures mean the water is expanding.

Dr. Miller explained the uncertainty related to making predictions about the impacts, both in terms of when and by how much. For Washington waters, “There is a 50% assessed likelihood that sea level will be 2.1 feet or higher relative to present by 2100 if emissions track RCP 8.5.” RCP 8.5 refers to a ‘business as usual’(we make no changes) global scenario for Representative Concentration Pathway. Dr. Miller then compared that to RCP 4.5 (a pathway in which the world takes actions to reduce carbon emissions) for Island County which shows 50% assessed likelihood that sea level rise will be 1.8 feet.

After reviewing probability tables with the group, we then had the opportunity to look at possible scenarios for ourselves. MRC had outfitted the room with seven laptops, one for each table of participants. We viewed our local neighborhoods and beaches using the sliding scale on the left to see what was under water at 1 foot, at 2 feet of sea level rise and so on. [The Camano group noticed portions of Highway 532 in Stanwood would be under water at 1 foot of sea level rise.]

You too can use the Sea Level Rise online tool to see how the low areas get covered as sea levels rise. It is on a website managed by NOAA Office of Coastal Management.  When you arrive at the website you need to launch the application then put in a zipcode or street address. I encourage you to check it out.

Dr. Miller’s research is part of a coastal communities regional resilience project to help inform people who live on the shores. Sea level rise can contribute to coastal flooding (higher surges, more frequent flooding), habitat loss (loss of mudflats, marshes), salinity change which could affect wells and groundwater) and shoreline erosion. You can find Dr. Miller’s presentation slides and additional materials and links online at

From the Board President PaulBen McElwain

I’d like to contribute just a couple of short notes this month for my view from the Board.

First, Getting To The Water’s Edge project teams are moving toward the release of the 2019 revised edition. The Production Team is pulling together the many tasks of completing the book, including writing some final sections and indexing in hopes of getting it to the printer sometime during the Fall.  The Distribution and Marketing team is organizing for the long term work of promotion and distribution. Both teams are excellent examples of volunteer teams coming together to get done something worth doing — what we as a larger organization are all about.

The second note is about the larger picture of our information technology (IT) systems. With the passing of Connie Clark, we have started two project efforts of looking at our IT infrastructure and support. The first is focused on support to our 2020 Sound Waters University (SWU) event and the second on our longer-term computing and web support to the overall organization. Things are looking better than I had hoped for SWU and I am confident that we can continue for this year with our current IT system that Connie left us for SWU 2020.  Time will tell what the second project comes up with to recommend for our future. In the meantime, both efforts will be working in parallel.

Meanwhile, we seem to be doing well at being a successful organization of volunteers, by volunteers, for volunteers — pursuing the mission we hold in common. Keep up the good work, and remember to have fun!

PaulBen McElwain, President of the Board, Sound Water Stewards

From Whidbey Coordinator Allie Hudec

I hope you have all had a wonderful summer so far! I would like to give you all a quick update on the Coupeville Wharf project. First and foremost, I will start by saying that the team who conceptualized, planned and created the wharf display did a wonderful job and it is a beautifully effective draw for visitors. I personally LOVE the wharf and have taken over 100 people there for field trips, Navy tours, historic walks for ELNHR, and Road Scholar trips. I am flattered to be asked to help with its maintenance and growth and I hope to honor the original vision with anything we do. The project itself has to do with funds that we were granted from the Town of Coupeville, they have requested the following items as part of that grant. (I have simplified them here, but I would be happy to send you a copy of the full grant if you would like to see it, just send me an email and I can get it to you.) Here is what we are currently working on:

1. Create a new panel for the back wall with info on Penn Cove Mussels

2. Update the poster for the shore display to draw people to the wharf

3. Create a passport book to help families to explore the area

4. Expand the brochure holder and make it more interactive

5. Have volunteers onsite to interpret during summer weekends and events

 I have met with some of the original trailblazers on this project and they have had some wonderful insights and ideas. I am also beginning to work with a volunteer team to both create content as well as build an interpretive team to be on site at events and busy weekends. If you are interested in being part of this project or any other outreach and education opportunities I would love to hear from you!

Please send me an E-mail at and we will get you plugged in.

Thanks for all you do!


From the Executive Director Nan Maysen

Recently I was asked to contribute a presentation to our neighboring county that provided an overview of Sound Water Stewards organization. I asked for Paul Ben’s assistance, as my involvement is so recent, and as we were working on it, one slide captured one of the most important qualities about Sound Water Stewards: Aside from the financial support and stability provided by LEP (Lighthouse Environmental Programs) and our Sound Waters University, it is the quality and dedication of the volunteers that make our organization successful.  

Whether we look at the efforts of the members and board in 2015 and 2016, when Sound Water Stewards were just becoming itself, or at the current activities that maintain strength and impact in the County and beyond, the high level of skills and commitment that volunteers bring to SWS are what enables our success.  I have been impressed from my start 5 months ago by the talent and variety of backgrounds that all of the volunteers offer, and also that the all-important ability to work together towards a common goal is one of the threads that weaves among every committee and board member.

I have always felt that teamwork is the best approach with a balance of leadership and feedback from the “boots on the ground” – – or in the mud!  The team that Sound Water Stewards is now – with both coordinators and myself settled into our staff roles and having such a strong and impressive Board and committees to support and work with – – it is something all of you can be proud of! Not every organization is so endowed with talent and dedication!

Volunteer Memorials

Jan Gross
Died March 31, 2019
Beach Watchers Class of 2008
Written by: Kathy Fritts

I was presented with the honor of saying a few about my friend Jan Gross. As many around Whidbey, I was blessed by her friendship from day one. Jan never met a stranger or let one get away always love at first sight on both sides. The first time I met her was in 2007 when she was active with then Beach Watchers Advisory Council and the Lighthouse Environmental Program where I served on both boards with her. Professionally, Jan was a registered nurse caring for children’s health issues but her caring expanded into every aspect of her life. After semi-retirement from nursing, she became the Goat Goddess at Island County Fair and of course later she was known as Gramma Jamma. The 3 Generations jam business was started by Jan and her daughter Becca Hyman with help from granddaughters, hence the name.

Smiling and chuckling over many memories of Jan and her quirky sense of humor I always come back to how kind, loving and yes, feisty she was. Her great love of family, husband, son, daughter, and grandchildren was beautiful to see.

She lived and loved spreading kindness and laughter to all who were blessed with her presence. I am grateful to have known her and being a part of my life.

God Speed Jan.

Connie Clark
08.01.1946 – 05.17.2019
Written by: Nicole Luce

Remembering Connie Clark who recently passed away from multiple myeloma. Connie and husband Neal joined Beach Watchers in 2007 and Connie happily dove into the BW website which was ready for a facelift. And that springboarded to her developing an online system for tracking BW volunteers and our hours and activities. The ripples from her vision and coding spread far and wide through BW, and then Sound Water Stewards, and to many related Puget Sound organizations as she translated our data and tracking needs into online systems for Sound Waters and SWS Info and for managing our organization.

While Connie quietly applied her genius to user-friendly tools and apps, anyone who sat in a meeting with her knows how her creativity and perspective spotlighted fresh ideas and new ways of approaching a need.  

She was a delight to work and play with! She was always learning, figuring out how to improve something, a lover of flowers, a can-do person, a great friend.