Category Archives: General

Jan Holmes Island County Coastal Volunteer of the Year Award

photo of Jan Holmes - with EZID cards for invertebrates and for seaweedsNominations are now being accepted (deadline: Jan 19th) for the 2018 Jan Holmes Island County Coastal Volunteer of the Year Award. The award is named to honor the memory of Jan Holmes, an Island County resident and WSU Island County Beach Watcher who was an exemplary marine scientist, educator and champion for stewardship of the marine environment.

In recognition of the continuing need for volunteers to carry on this important cause, the Jan Holmes Island County Coastal Volunteer of the Year Award is presented annually.

This award is open to all volunteers, regardless of membership to any one organization or institution, participating in or supporting science and outreach efforts that protect or restore the coastal resources of Island County.

The Island County Marine Resources Committee (MRC), Sound Water Stewards (SWS), and Washington State University (WSU) Extension Island County are pleased to open the call for nominations for this prestigious award.

Nomination forms must be received by 4:30 PM Friday, January 19, 2018.

More information and the nomination form can be found at:

You may also scroll down on that page to view last year’s winner – SWS Volunteer – Connie Clark;  if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, there are pictures of all past winners, and links to information about them.

Why do they come to Penn Cove

Major step forward at the Coupeville Wharf – the Phase 1 mural was installed Friday, May 6.


photo by Jill Hein

The mural explains how Penn Cove is a mixing bowl for marine life, and how humans have lived near Penn Cove for thousands of years.

Phase2, with a large eelgrass mural is scheduled for this summer.   See some of the volunteers at work

Bob Gentz – Jan Holmes Coastal Volunteer of the Year – 2016

Bob Gentz - seiningWe are pleased to announce that Sound Water Steward Bob Gentz, class of 2008, has been named the 2016 Jan Holmes Island County Coastal Volunteer of the Year.

See the full announcement at the Island County MRC website (where you can also read about previous winners)

While he is a reluctant winner – he is MOST deserving!

Bob has lived on Whidbey since 2001, and joined our organization in the Beach Watchers class of 2008.  He immediately jumped into a wide range of projects.  Indoors he is the behind the scenes person who makes sure that everything works – whether it is ‘boring’ financial spreadsheets, or a trip to the Post Office to get stamps, or going out and doing fund-raising. Outdoors he is happy to get wet and dirty. 

He has logged more than 9600 hours of volunteer service – across the range of education/outreach (Climate Steward, Sound Waters University,  teaching sixth graders about plankton, Ebey’s Landing Docent), citizen science (eelgrass, seining, intertidal monitoring, smolt counts, …..), stewardship (beach cleanup, stream restoration, fishing line recycling, …)

Here are some selected quotes from some of those who helped to nominate Bob for this award.

  • Bob can’t say “no” when asked to help with a project, which is why he’s such a valuable volunteer. He does an excellent job with ALL of his volunteer commitments, is enthusiastic about them, very dependable, and is always willing to step beyond the ‘asked for’ assistance. – Jill Hein, SWS 2005

  • Being an avid fisherman, Bob has enthusiastically participated in the Smolt Count in Maxwelton Creek each May for the last 7 years. He has recruited, trained and mentored many volunteers and has always jumped in (literally) to help install, fix and remove the trap. He is always looking for opportunities to improve the process and is a great advocate for our environment. Bob is exceptional in giving his time to the many teams in which he participates – Gregg Ridder, SWS 2005

  • Bob is the quintessential board member who gets immersed in the details of each organization he works with, especially the finances. He does his homework and is always as or better prepared than everyone else. Bob does what he promises to do and when he promises to do it; he never complains and jumps in to handle many of the tasks that others find tedious and unrewarding. At the same time, Bob loves to get out in the field. Our region in Puget Sound is better off because of Bob’s efforts, both indoors and out. He is most deserving of this award dedicated to Jan Holmes – Linda Ade Ridder, SWS 2005

  • Bob’s been a very dedicated and knowledgeable member of the beach seining team since 2008. bob-gentz-seiningHe can be depended upon to consistently be present regardless of the weather, distance, or extenuating circumstances. He works on -many- other teams. He is a tireless volunteer – Jim Somers, SWS 2004

  • You can easily be fooled by Bob’s low-key, soft spoken, Jimmy Stewart, aw-shucks act, but his steady, day-to-day — talk the talk and walk the walk, force-of-nature deposition speaks volumes. Someone once said, 90% of success is just showing up and Bob shows up, time after time! Always on task, whether it’s keeping an organizations books in perfect order or digging up a field of scotch broom. An inspiration to everyone, could not be prouder to have him on our Whidbey Watershed Stewards board — Rick Baker, Whidbey Watershed Stewards

  • Bob is always willing to help, no matter what the task. At Goosefoot, besides being the “Numbers Guy”, he is always available to staff an information booth, hand out flyers, promote programs and help with anything and everything that we might be doing – Sandra Whiting, Goosefoot

  • Bob was my mentor for coastal environmental activities (both in and out of my comfort zone) – it is cold, windy and raining and there is Bob in his waders deploying a seining net – it is a hot, windless day and we are at Miller’s Lake pulling blackberries – it is just after sunrise on a cold, blustery day and there is Bob with freezing hands teaching 6th graders about plankton at the Marina in Langley. He is tireless and dedicated. – Gordon Marvin, SWS 2013

  • Bob helps fill all the little holes that inevitably arise in any project – whether broad financial/governance issues or little ‘grunt work’ items. He makes my job easier and therefore makes me a more effective volunteer. Multiply this by all the other teams he is part of – it adds up to a tremendous positive impact on our Island County coastal environment – Connie Clark, SWS 2007 

  • Bob is the volunteer who “gets it done”!  Ken Urstad, SWS 2005

From tallying financial statements to eelgrass shoots, we thank Bob for his many contributions to the health of our coastal environment!







Shoreline Program for Island County Approved

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Ecology has approved Island County’s updated shoreline master program.

The updated program will significantly improve the use, restoration and management of development along 210 miles of Puget Sound and freshwater shorelines.

Ecology’s approval completes a five-year process that involved hundreds of people, including shoreline property owners, a science advisory panel, non-profit organizations, tribal governments, and state and local government staff.

“Island County and its residents have taken a unique approach to many parts of their shoreline program,” said Erik Stockdale, Ecology’s regional shorelines program manager. “This program reflects a high level of public involvement and interaction that shows how highly they value their shorelines.”

The county developed a unique set of designations for different categories of shoreline. A key part of this tailors buffers and setbacks on individual properties in response to specific on-site conditions. For example, setbacks are measured from the tops of bluffs, rather than from high tide lines.

The program specifically protects ecologically intact shorelines. It also includes locally developed residential development policies and regulations to protect historic land use patterns in communities on beaches and canals. 

Other facets of Island County’s updated shoreline program include:

  • Encouraging soft-bank erosion control methods and limits construction of new shoreline armoring.
  • A restoration plan showing where and how voluntary improvements in water and upland areas can enhance the local shoreline environment.
  • Tailoring unique shoreline setbacks and buffers to each shoreline environment designation.
  • Incorporating the county’s critical areas regulations and flood damage prevention code. 
  • Helping support the broader initiative to protect and restore Puget Sound.

Washington’s 262 cities and counties with regulated shorelines must periodically update their programs, a requirement of the state’s Shoreline Management Act. Island County’s shoreline program now becomes a part of the state’s overall Shoreline Master Program.