News & Events

Volunteers Spotlight: Wetland Ecological Health Assessment Team

Author: Lilly Schneider | 08/25/22

People walking through dense forest

The wetland health assessment team got their boots on the ground at several of our preserves to collect data about the wetlands we care for.

This summer, a team of hardy volunteers played a key role in an exciting Land Trust program: our first-ever wetland ecological health assessment. Following our stream health and forest health assessments, this assessment was designed specifically to help us understand the wetlands on preserves we own and care for. At Chai-yakh-wh Preserve, Duckabush Oxbow and Wetlands Preserve, Snow Creek Forest Preserve, and the Quimper Wildlife Corridor, a dozen volunteers journeyed far and wide to gather the data crucial to the assesment’s success.

“We’re trying to gain a baseline understanding of the wetlands on Land Trust preserves,” explains Jefferson Land Trust Office and Preserve Assistant Cristina Villalobos, who led the volunteer team. “Wetlands are key habitat for a range of species — from amphibians to birds — and they’re very important to our ecosystem.”

Standing water among trees

Duckabush Oxbow and Wetlands Preserve.

Thanks to grant funding from the Rose Foundation and the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, the Land Trust was able to hire a wetland consultant, Marine Surveys and Assessments, who put together a science-based protocol for the wetland assessment earlier this year. Then, in May, we reached out to the community to recruit volunteers, and were excited to enlist such an enthusiastic group. After training with Land Trust staff and studying maps of the wetland areas, the volunteers worked as small teams into early July, braving mud, dense brush, and rugged terrain. They carried assessment forms to complete in the field as well as Land Trust tablets that tracked their locations to ensure that we were covering all the targeted areas.

“These volunteers had to navigate a lot of different components, and I really appreciated how proactive they all were with every element,” says Cristina. “We had fun being outside, and the data they helped gather is really important in helping us meet our management goals.”

Our preserve staff are now reviewing the data, which will help us measure wetland health and determine if the preserves we’ve committed to protect and care for forever are moving toward a more diverse, resilient, and healthy state over time. We plan to repeat this assessment every five years.

Group on bleachers listening to speakers

The wetland health assessment volunteer team getting trained by Marine Surveys staff.

Our wetland assessment volunteers prove that community science can be fun, educational, and make a real difference for local lands and wildlife. Big thanks to our wetland assessment volunteer team!

We’re currently looking for volunteers for our upcoming forest health assessment. To learn more, click here, and email Cristina Villalobos to sign up cvillalobos[at] by Tuesday, September 6.

We’re grateful to the Puget Sound Stewardship and Mitigation Fund, a grantmaking fund created by the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and administered by the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, for the support to start this much-needed program.