Volunteers help Puget SoundCorps team clean up Fidalgo Bay beaches

Photo:  Jackson Barnes, WCC Puget SoundCorp member, prepares to greet volunteers for the Aug. 18 cleanup in Fidalgo Bay. Photo: Rose Whitson / DNR
Jackson Barnes, WCC Puget SoundCorp member, prepares to greet volunteers for the Aug. 18 cleanup in Fidalgo Bay. Photo: Rose Whitson / DNR

You never know what you’re going to find when you clean up a beach. Take last Sunday’s cleanup project in Fidalgo Bay near Anacortes, for example.

Volunteers discovered an intact glass pipe, a headlamp, a quarter of a dollar bill, and a dead snake. In addition, they found wood and metal parts, tires, polystyrene foam, food wrappers, glass and plastic bottles, cans, plastic bags, cigarette butts, and more bits of persistent plastic stuff.

Today, however, the beaches are a lot cleaner thanks to volunteers from the community and the three Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) Puget SoundCorps members who organized the cleanup: Jackson Barnes, Meg Harris, and Rose Whitson.

Jackson, Meg, and Rose are part of a six-member team of WCC Puget SoundCorps members who have spent the past year working within DNR’s Aquatic Reserves Program on projects to help improve the health of Puget Sound. These young adults (age 18-25) and returning veterans are gaining valuable experience and earning money to help with education costs. Some of the projects this team has worked on this year include:

• Conducting surveys of forage fish in all nine DNR-managed aquatic reserves. (Part of Fidalgo Bay is an aquatic reserve.)
• Removing toxic creosote-treated and other debris from beaches.
• Collecting data for Washington’s COASST beached bird surveys.
• Surveying and collecting data on eelgrass.
• Giving presentations to committees and organizations.

In addition to the volunteers, DNR and the Puget SoundCorps crew thank local partners—Skagit Land Trust, Skagit County Marine Resources Committee, Friends of Skagit Beaches, and the Washington Conservation Corps—for supporting this volunteer event. Thanks, also, to the Fidalgo Bay Resort for letting us host and stage the event from their parking lot. Finally, thanks to Gary Robinson, and his team from the City of Anacortes Parks and Recreation department for removing the garbage. Word has it the city will be turning some of these materials into an art display.

This past year, DNR has provided nearly 100 jobs through the WCC Puget SoundCorps with members working on a variety of projects including urban forestry, improving water quality in recreation areas, removing noxious weeds from uplands and aquatic lands, shoreline restoration near an old gravel mine on Maury Island, and more.

Learn more about the WCC Puget SoundCorps, which is part of the larger Washington Conservation Corps, managed by the Washington State Department of Ecology.

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