Site Stewards Invest Hearts and Souls
Volunteers Adopt, Take Special Care of Preserves
When a pristine stretch of natural shoreline on Possession Sound was protected by the Land Trust last fall, Dan Weber quickly inquired about what he could do to help.
Weber and his wife, Laurie Carron, live within walking distance of the new preserve and eagerly volunteered to help care for the property. When Kyle Ostermick-Durkee, our Stewardship Specialist, asked if they’d like to be site stewards, a key volunteer role that involves special attention and care for a Land Trust property, the Clinton couple jumped at the opportunity.
“Honestly, it’s just a balm for my soul and psyche to go down there and do work,” Weber said.
Weber and Carron are longtime Land Trust members yet relative newcomers to the site steward program that engages volunteers to care and watch over protected lands on Whidbey and Camano islands.
Site stewards essentially “adopt” a particular preserve, visiting it regularly to perform selected tasks. This includes keeping an eye on the property and reporting issues to the Land Trust. Some site stewards dive right into restoration or maintenance projects, while others do other tasks specific to a particular site.
“The Land Trust lets us take on responsibilities we want to take on, which is a nice way to approach it,” said Tom Trimbath, site steward for 11 years at Hammons Preserve, near Clinton.
Trimbath usually walks to the preserve from his house at least once a month and removes invasive weeds that crop up. He also looks out for other issues that need attention.
“I continue the work of the volunteer work parties,” he said. “They remove the vast majority of the Scotch broom and holly and I go back and make sure it’s kept under control as best as I can.”
Preserves usually have more than one volunteer site steward. Some sites also have specific needs that require volunteers with certain skills and interests.
Cleveland Hall and Vicki Demetre are two such examples. Their dedication to propagating native prairie plants at the Land Trust nursery, to be planted at Admiralty Inlet Preserve, is astounding. Hall has logged nearly 2,000 hours of volunteer service over eight years. Demetre joined her in recent years and they enjoy working together.
“It just feels like real meaningful work,” Hall said. “It’s a tiny piece of doing something to slow down the winking out of the species.” She is referring to the endangered golden paintbrush plant. The Land Trust cares for two of the last 12 prairie sites where this showy species still grows.
Lenny Corin also feels he’s doing something meaningful when he visits the Del Fairfax Preserve near Oak Harbor. The preserve’s beautiful open meadow, with a forest fringe, had a major thistle issue when Corin started as a site steward there nearly 10 years ago. “The first few years, I spent many hours pulling up tens of thousands of thistles,” he recalls. “They pretty much ringed the open area of field there. Now you rarely see any.”
Weber and Carron started removing invasive plants at Possession Sound Preserve almost immediately after the Land Trust acquired the property. “My mantra for my participation is to just help create the place I want to live,” Weber said.
Want to learn more about becoming a site steward? Contact Kyle Ostermick-Durkee at email@example.com.