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Shore Stewards reel in port officials

Port of South Whidbey manager Ed Field and Port Commissioner Lynae Slinden savor a perfect spring morning at Clinton Beach while scoping locations for the port’s new Shore Stewards sign.  - Dan Pedersen photo
Port of South Whidbey manager Ed Field and Port Commissioner Lynae Slinden savor a perfect spring morning at Clinton Beach while scoping locations for the port’s new Shore Stewards sign.
— image credit: Dan Pedersen photo

Sitting on a sun-bleached log at Clinton Beach, Lynae Slinden and Ed Field contemplated one of the more fun parts of their job: Where to put the Shore Stewards sign.

Last week the Port of South Whidbey joined nearly 500 other shoreline property owners on Whidbey and Camano islands who have enrolled in Shore Stewards, www.shorestewards.org, a voluntary educational program that teaches salmon-friendly ways of managing beaches, bluffs and gardens.

It was a perfect fit for the port and a good catch for Shore Stewards.

“As a port district, marine stewardship is one of our highest priorities,” said Slinden, one of three port commissioners who led the drive several years ago to develop the environmentally-sensitive Clinton Beach facility.

Recently, the port partnered with Island County Marine Resources Committee to install educational signage at Clinton Beach. Similar signs will go up this summer at Maxwelton Beach, in partnership with the committee and Maxwelton Community Club. Two years ago the port helped sponsor printing of “Getting to the Water’s Edge,” a joint publication of the committee and WSU Beach Watchers that describes

67 places to access the shoreline and also delivers stewardship education.

So joining Shore Stewards was a very logical step.

“We observe a toxic-free policy in the parks we control, using no herbicides or pesticides that would work their way into the habitat and threaten fish and wildlife,” Slinden explained.

When the port designed its

shoreside facility at Clinton Beach it created a demonstration site for low-impact development that includes such progressive, earth-friendly features as pervious pavers and a living roof.

The port is an important addition to Shore Stewards, a program developed in Island County several years ago that has now spread throughout Puget Sound.

“The port is a big deal to us,” said Shore Stewards coordinator Scott Chase of Camano Island. “Most Shore Stewards are individual property owners — the neighbor next door who loves salmon and shellfish and wants to manage his property so his grandchildren can enjoy the lifestyle he knew as a kid. Once in a while we enroll a large business or, in this case, an entire port district that operates multiple shoreline facilities.”

The port owns or helps operate boat ramps and parks at Clinton Beach, Possession Beach, Freeland Park, Maxwelton Beach, Bush Point and soon, the Langley Marina.

Other members include Deception Pass State Park and the Port of Coupeville, and both Camano Island State Park and Cama Beach State Park.

Members of Shore Stewards receive a handbook of resources and ideas for their property, a DVD about shoreline living, a yard sign and a monthly newsletter. They are invited to helpful workshops. There are no rules, fees or obligations, only an invitation to learn.

Chase praised the port for its stewardship of the environment.

“They have been a tremendous role model. By embracing the values of Shore Stewards, they are setting an example for everyone who lives in this community,” Chase said.

Shore Stewards signs soon will be appearing at several port facilities and Field said the port’s site managers will receive their own individual copies of the Shore Stewards publication, “Guide for Shoreline Living,” which provides information and resources for those who live along the shore.

Slinden said she hopes Island County will adopt a poison-free policy in managing its parks, and that individual shoreline owners on both islands will join Shore Stewards and learn from the many helpful ideas and resources it provides.

“We are all learning how to be better stewards of the environment, to protect the lifestyle we love as well as our own good health. This is the education piece,” she said.

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