Category Archives: Training/Self-Education

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

Sound Waters University 2020 Sets Records

A collective sigh of relief, exhaustion, and satisfaction of a job well done was heard the evening of February 1 as Sound Water Stewards (SWS) volunteers finished putting away tables and chairs, removed signage,  set classrooms back in order, cleaned up, and walked out the door of South Whidbey High School, concluding the 26th Annual Sound Waters University (SWU). This was the final act of a nine-month process of creative planning and team work of dedicated SWS volunteers, class and keynote presenters, and incredible community support.  An analogy of gestation and a labor of love is unavoidable!

SWU is the largest and most longstanding education and outreach activity of SWS. During its 26-year history, this event has been hosted at various locations on Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Langley. It has outgrown previous venues and has been hosted at South Whidbey High School the past six years, thanks to an agreement with the South Whidbey School District and support from Island County and many other local business sponsors. 

Residents of Island County and the Puget Sound region attend this one-day university to learn about our natural environment and its inhabitants, our role and impacts, and how we as individuals may take action to care for this place we call home. The day of SWU is initiated with a rousing keynote address, followed by 60 different classes offered throughout the day by local experts who volunteer their time and expertise!

The popularity of SWU has grown over the years and SWU 2020 enjoyed a record participation of nearly 680 registrants, over 50 exhibitors, and countless volunteers who worked behind the scene to make this event another success. With reliance on bring your own coffee cup or water bottle and onsite lunch sold in recyclable or compostable containers, and assistance from WSU Waste Wise, the whole event resulted in 6.6 pounds (3 kg) of trash.   

SWU also is the primary fundraising activity for the SWS organization, supporting its trained volunteers working for a healthy, sustainable Puget Sound environment through education, community outreach, stewardship and citizen science. The net revenue from SWU 2020 was a record breaking $40,000! SWU income helps provide the underpinning of our nonprofit organization’s ability to meet our growing needs and help us meet our mission!

South Whidbey High School has been reserved for Saturday, February 6, 2021. Planning  starts this month, April 2020. Stay tuned for emails informing you about our progress and invitations to join us! We will be reaching out to all SWS members, including new recruits, to join the scores of volunteers who dedicate their time and experience to host SWU. We are a fun group and get excited to have members joining our SWU Steering Committee!

 For more information, please feel free to email Sue Salveson or Anne Baum (find their contact details within the members-only pages or contact a coordinator).

Coordinators Joan and Allie tabling at SWU 2020


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

Tim’s whitepaper (2013) to WSU Extension Director on proposed future scenario

E-mail from Barb dated May 14, 2013: [NOTE: a link to the whitepaper follows the email message]

Dear Beach Watchers,

Several months ago, Tim Lawrence, Director, WSU Island County Extension, presented the attached White Paper to the Director of WSU Extension.   While the original assignment was to consider the future of the Beach Watchers program, Dr. Lawrence took this opportunity to research university-based environmental programs across the country and develop suggestions for WSU’s environmental outreach statewide.  The Beach Watchers program is included in the broad, conceptual framework described in the attached paper.

 The paper has been well received and a committee has been formed, under Tim’s leadership, to define a way forward on the concepts and to develop a core environmental curriculum for outreach programs.  That committee has met 2 times and I am pleased to serve on the committee.

 This paper sets out themes that will likely shape the future of the Beach Watchers program and other WSU environmental outreach programs.  It invites the potential of strong and diverse statewide environmental outreach and sets the stage for exciting possibilities ahead.


Future 2013 BW White Paper Final