Becomea shore steward!

Published on Thu, Jul 6, 2006 by heryl Lovato-Niles

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Become a shore steward!

By Cheryl Lovato-Niles

Early settlers to the wild and rugged shorelines of Washington state were happy, eager even, to clear the land and domesticate it.
The towering forests ran down from the mountains to the coast where, as if unable to stop, many trees leaned out over the beaches or fell right into the water.

The bounty of the sea seemed inexhaustible. The settlers’ mission was to make a home in this magnificent landscape, so that their heirs might forever benefit from the timber, the fish, the rich farmland, the almost magical, life-giving qualities of this place.

One hundred and fifty years later, the view from our shorelines is still beautiful, but in the course of making it home, we have changed the shoreline so much that we are on the brink of loving it to death.

Up and down the shores of Washington state, people are realizing that our marine waters are in trouble and that we can, each of us, take steps to protect and preserve what we love.

By becoming Shore Stewards, residents along the shorelines are celebrating their unique position and ability to help keep our waters clean and our wildlife abundant.

“Becoming a Shore Steward is all about enjoying your shoreline property while keeping it healthy and special. People really seem to love learning about the plants and animals that make our beaches and bluffs so beautiful,” says Cheryl Lovato-Niles, coordinator for the Shore Stewards program in Whatcom County.

The Shore Stewards program began in Island County three years ago. It has grown considerably since then and includes more than 250 residents today. This year, Shore Stewards received grant funding from the Puget Sound Action Team and the Northwest Straits Commission to expand to Whatcom as well as Clallam, Skagit and Snohomish counties. Lovato-Niles is optimistic about the program's future, “People in this area have a strong conservation ethic.

They want their grandchildren to enjoy the same beautiful living coastline that they knew as kids. I think Shore Stewards has been so popular because shoreline residents really care. They want to protect the water and the animals that depend upon it. And they want to know how.”

The program is sponsored and supported by the Whatcom Watershed Master/Beach Watchers.  It offers a free reference guidebook to caring for your shoreline, informational newsletters, and will host several workshops in Whatcom County in its first year. There is no cost to join, or to become a certified Shore Steward. To learn more about the program, the guidebook, or how to become a Shore Steward, call Lovato-Niles 360/ 676-6736, or email clniles@wsu.edu.