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Friends Notes

Keep up to date with news from Friends of Skagit Beaches

Save the Date - 2017 Fidalgo Shoreline Academy

October 21, 2017 - Anacortes, WAFSA logo trnsp

NW Educational Services District Building

The Fidalgo Shoreline Academy is an annual educational symposium and fundraiser for Friends, which has been offered since 2013.  This day-long event offers an opportunity to learn more about a wide variety of topics from excellent speakers.  The Friends Board decided in early 2017 to move the time of the annual Fidalgo Shore Academy to fall instead of spring. Another change this year is that the venue for the event is being moved to the NW Educational Services District Building, where the Friends Lecture Series is hosted.  This venue will offer more space and improved logistics and audio visual resources that we hope will enhance the experience for attendees, as well as the organizing team.










This year’s symposium will be held on October 21st and will feature a keynote speaker and three presentation sessions each offering three topics from which attendees can choose one.  Again this year, the Friends Trail Tales project will be offering interpretive walks as part of the options for the presentation sessions.  If you’ve attended in prior years you will be receiving information on purchasing tickets and if not, check our website in September for more information on how to register for this event.



Get your Discovery Passport & Win a Prize

Fidalgo Bay Day

August 12 - 11 AM to 3 PMgirlsattouchtank id500

Fidalgo Bay Resort

4701 Fidalgo Bay Road

Friends of Skagit Beaches is again celebrating of our Skagit County estuaries, focusing on Fidalgo Bay, as part of the 2017 Fidalgo Bay Day celebration hosted by the Skagit Marine Resources Committee.  There will be fun for the whole family including food – fun activities and displays provided by a wide variety of local organizations, free chowder & shellfish samples and a traditional Samish Indian Nation salmon lunch (for purchase), the ever-popular beach seining demonstration (we’re sure the kids will squeal with joy again this year), and of course the really fun Discovery Passport activity and prizes.

Friends is again offering a “Discovery Passport” for attendees with a variety of hosted “Discovery Stations”, passport station questions for kids and adults, and prizes for those who complete the challenge.  Pick up your passport, visit the Discovery Stations, answer the challenge question, get your passport stamped and when complete return to the information table to pick up your prize.  This year’s Discovery Passport activities are being supported through a generous donation from Shell Puget Sound Refinery.

Again this year we will be offering a coloring contest for drawings that celebrate Fidalgo Bay, a Washington State Aquatic Reserve.  Last year’s winning drawing (above) will be featured on the cover of the Discovery Passport.  Other entries will be posted at our information table showing the inspired artwork from 2016.  Come join us for a great educational opportunity – disguised as fun!



2016 Coloring Contest Winning Entry
Drawn by Elena Johnson

Matching Grant Update

Friends of Skagit Beaches has made great progress in raising money to take advantage of a matching grant opportunity with a goal of raising a total of $10,000.  An anonymous donor offered to match up to $5,000 in donations all of which are designated to support the Coastal Volunteer Partnership at Padilla Bay (CVP), which is our primary funding grant provided annually to support this important community volunteer program.  The other major fundraising effort that supports CVP is our Fidalgo Shoreline Academy.  With the move of this event from spring to fall, the matching grant fills a critical void in funding to support our planned donations to CVP in 2017.

We still need to raise about $900 to take full advantage of the match and raise the full $10,000 for CVP.  If you haven’t already donated to the cause, please help us reach the goal!

How can you donate?  Donate online using PayPal or mail a check to FOSB, P.O.Box 481, Anacortes, WA 98221. Be sure to include a note designating your gift to the "CVP Matching Grant". As always we thank you for your support, we couldn't do our work without you.

What’s In a Name?

FBAR sign sm

Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve Citizen                  Stewardship Committee

By Pete Haase, FBAR CSC Chairperson

That's a mouthful of a name for a small group of volunteers working to protect an important natural resource right here in Skagit County, the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve. So, let’s dive into that name and see if some of you will be inspired to join us and become Citizen Stewards.


Fidalgo BayFBAR Photo copy

We all pretty much know Fidalgo Bay; the body of water lying between March Point and the east shore of downtown Anacortes, all the way down to State Route 20 at the south end.  The Tommy Thompson Trail follows the route of the old railroad tracks that served Anacortes from the 1890s to 1970s. The trail provides public access to the bay following the shoreline from the east end of 34th street down to the Fidalgo Bay Resort (RV park), and then out over the bay onto the railroad trestle to the March Point shore.  A beautiful place to walk and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding community, mountains, as well as a host of birds and other wildlife.

Aquatic Reserve

Here is a not-so-familiar term perhaps.  Aquatic Reserves (there are eight in Washington) are areas of state-owned aquatic lands and bodies of water that are managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources.  An aquatic reserve can be proposed and adopted because it has great potential as habitat hosting a broad diversity of flora and fauna.  Our local Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve supports great blue herons from a large nearby colony on March Point, has large eelgrass beds that nurture and nourish aquatic life in the bay, and both the shoreline and eelgrass provide spawning grounds for forage fish.  It’s a great place for birds as well, who are attracted to Fidalgo Bay by the abundant food sources that can be found in its varied habitats, including eelgrass, mud flats, emerging salt marsh, and sand/cobble/gravel beaches.  Cyprus Island (Skagit County) and Cherry Point (Whatcom County) near Bellingham are other nearby state aquatic reserves.  Reserves all have extensive management plans but no unique restrictions on use.  Visit, a nice website about all eight of Washington’s aquatic reserves.


“A native, inhabitant, or denizen of a particular place.” The denizens of Fidalgo Bay in our FBAR CSC group are members of the public and volunteers, and there are currently nine of us engaged in this stewardship effort.


A steward watches over and helps care for, in this case, an aquatic reserve.  The management plans for all aquatic reserves call for stewardship (by citizen committee) that promotes, encourages and enables science in the reserve.  Our team works with volunteers who do forage fish surveys and beach monitoring and inventories, and assists numerous other science efforts.  The plan also calls for stewardship that develops and delivers education about the reserve.  Effects of storm water is one of our current emphasis areas.  The committee has worked closely with WA DNR to install signs identifying and providing information about the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve along the shore and across on the trestle. Finally, the plan requires stewardship to stay aware of proposed activities that might affect the reserve and directs us to review them and submit comments as necessary.  The work to create the round-about on Highway 20 at Sharps Corner is one we are currently involved in with regard to potential stormwater impacts to the bay.



Yes, we meet, talk, plan and listen once a month for two hours.  We do follow some rules, have a chairperson, keep minutes, and abide by an agenda.  Representatives of the Washington Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Reserve program and other organizations frequently join these meetings to foster a close working relationship between the state aquatic lands managers and the local community.

We provide a quarterly report of activity to the Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Reserves program and it is always full of results that we are pleased to share.  Members of the committee get involved and sometimes lead efforts that they are interested in, or maybe stand on the sidelines for things they are not so keen to take an active role in.  We receive assistance from support staff from the Department of Natural Resources and ReSources for Sustainable Communities (Bellingham), as well as having a budget for supplies, extra help, and educational materials.Jan28FBARsign

Our work and ability to make a difference as citizen stewards is only as good as the effort of the volunteers on the committee.  We always need more help and volunteers to serve on the committee or get involved with specific activities. So, we strongly encourage you to sign up and serve as a Citizen Steward with the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve Citizens Stewardship Committee (whew!).  We will help you find ways to participate in areas that match your abilities and talents, and help you make a difference in our community.   Fidalgo Bay is a great place to protect, promote, and take care of!  You can contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to let us know of your interest.

Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer!

Checking in with Catherine Buchalski

Editor’s note:  Many of us remember the warm smile and amazing young woman who served as the final Skagit Beach Watcher’s Coordinator and briefly as Volunteer Coordinator for the Coastal Volunteer Partnership at Padilla Bay.  Catherine is now working in Chicago and sends this update on what she’s up to (including getting married next fall!) We wish her the best in all her endeavors.

Catherine BGreetings from Chicago!

by Catherine Buchalski

Two weeks ago, I woke up and realized it’s been a year since I left Anacortes for the bright lights and windy nights of the big city. I certainly never thought I’d be living in the Midwest and working in a 20+ story building, but next month I will celebrate my one year work anniversary with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Management Program here in Chicago. I must say the work is very different from my role as the Program Coordinator for the Coastal Volunteer Partnership. The last year has been busy.  I have organized and facilitated a series of meetings with elected and municipal leaders to address the challenges of shoreline management along a developed coastline; collaborated with other Lake Michigan states to prioritize actions and strategies for recovering the lake over the next 10 years; and strategized ways to increase public access and recreational opportunities along the lakefront from Chicago to the Wisconsin border. Overall, it has been quite a year, and I am so grateful for the learning experiences and new opportunities I’ve had here . . . even if I hate the crowds and parallel parking-ha!

Despite the new job, my time in Skagit County is never far from my mind. This coming year I’m particularly excited to work with my colleagues in establishing a collaborative research and education center on the shores of Lake Michigan. I have already shared many stories of how awesome Padilla Bay Reserve is, and what an amazing group of volunteers can achieve! There is also the possibility of developing a citizen science shoreline-monitoring program, and a host of educational programming that motivates me to work even harder.

While leaving Washington was a very difficult decision, I know from experience that my life is made richer and I am more fulfilled by every new adventure. My fiancée, Wes, and I will be visiting Washington in May, and, of course, a trip to Padilla Bay and Fidalgo Island are on the itinerary! I suppose only time will tell where our journey will lead us next, but I think the call of the West will be too much to resist, and we’ll be climbing the mountains and rocky shores again soon.

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