News & Events

Wetland Ecological Health Assessment: An Exciting Opportunity for Volunteers

Author: Lilly Schneider | 04/27/22

Algae-covered pond in marshy forest.

Quimper Wildlife Corridor wetland. Photo by John Gussman.

Jefferson Land Trust is seeking volunteers for a hands-on, boots-on, first-time-ever opportunity. We need a number of people willing to take an active role in our upcoming wetland ecological health assessment. Through data collection on the land, the assessment will measure wetland health at Chai-yakh-wh Preserve, Duckabush Oxbow and Wetlands Preserve, Snow Creek Forest Preserve, and in the Quimper Wildlife Corridor.

Woman leaning over creek.

Volunteer at Snow Creek Forest Preserve.

Guided by Land Trust staff, volunteers will participate in a half or full day of in-person outdoor training in May and will then work in small teams to undertake the wetland ecological health assessment project across the selected preserves in June. After initial training, the exact timing of this community science data gathering is flexible to meet individual schedules. Data collected in the field must also be entered into a simple online form from any home computer or internet-connected phone (training provided). This volunteer opportunity is a great fit for those who:

  • feel comfortable traveling on uneven terrain, including through salmonberry, brush, water and deep mud;
  • appreciate a rare opportunity to explore the preserves off-trail; and
  • are interested in participating in community science to make a real difference for local wetlands and wildlife.

If this sounds like you, please contact Office and Preserve Assistant Cristina Villalobos at cvillalobos[at] by May 9 to sign up.

Following our recent stream health and forest health assessments, this assessment is designed specifically for wetland environments. The collected data will help us 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.

“It’s important to assess whether our stewardship actions are benefiting the land in the long term as intended, or if we need to adjust any of our practices,” says Preserve Manager Carrie Clendaniel. “Scientific monitoring and data collection are important: we’re not just using our own eyes to check on these places, but following a consistent, science-based protocol that helps to remove personal bias and that can be successfully repeated over many years.”

Four people in hard hots carry a log to stack on top of a stack of alder logs on the ground.

The Chimacum Riparian Restoration crew creating downed log surrogates at Snow Creek Forest Preserve in April 2021. Photo by Owen French, courtesy of Washington State Department of Ecology.

Some examples of stewardship actions we’ve taken on some of our preserves to support forest and wetland health include removing invasive plant species and creating downed logs and downed log surrogates, which can provide shelter and feeding grounds for wildlife. Downed logs and downed log surrogates also act like sponges, retaining water during the wet season and slowly releasing it during dry months, providing sustenance for animals and aiding the growth of vegetation that buffers wetlands and streams.

Though we generally carry out ecological health assessments at each of our preserves on a regular 5-10 year basis, this will be the first assessment we’ve ever carried out specifically for wetland health, and it will follow protocol developed by a wetland scientist contracted by the Land Trust. Using the data collected by volunteers, staff members will be able to measure wetland health and continue to undertake strategic, field-tested stewardship actions to more effectively improve water quality and wildlife habitat on our preserves now and into the future.

We’re thankful 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.

Please email Office and Preserve Assistant Cristina Villalobos at cvillalobos[at] by May 9 if you’re interested in volunteering for this project.