Check This Out!

Senator Maria Cantwell recently commented that she had done everything she could to support the San Juans National Monument exccept “getting a tattoo”. A group, Environmental Washington, is giving out these temporary tattoos to right this wrong. Notice that this is our beloved lighthouse???!!!!
Do you have a tattoo? Does it protect pristine wilderness? This week, hundreds of Washingtonians will be getting a tat just for that!

Purge the Spurge!

All of us at Keepers of course have other lives, and this is true for our volunteer activities as well. So when fearless BLM Leader Nick Teague announced a “Volunteer Appreciation Day” to be held on Victim Island, I jumped at the chance. Of course as Nick’s meaning of  “Volunteer Appreciation” usually means slaving away for hours in the hot sun in some god forsaken (but beautiful) place, I knew I was once again signing up for some hard work.

I was right. Nick’s team for the day was to journey to Victim Island (in Westsound, Orcas Island) and spend the day pulling a nasty smelling noxious weed known as Spurge Laurel. Nick explained that Spurge Laurel is a garden escapee that likes to grow in the shade; really bad news for the Pacific Northwest. Why it is a “garden escapee” mystifies me as the plant looks like an unwatered rhododendron and, when cut,  smells like a cross between sewer gas and kerosene. Who would want it in their garden?

After an initial safety talk (this time including how to protect ourselves from allergic reactions to plant sap) we headed off to rid the island (partially) of this highly invasive weed. Our method was to cut down everything in a wide perimeter of the island and to leave the heavily infested shaded center for another day.

After a lunch with a view, (always a given on Nick’s volunteer days), we continued our attack on the Laurel. After about 5 hours of work we had circled back to our starting point and there was time for a wash up and photo-op before our boat arrived to pick us up and take us back to civilization.

Oh, and Victim Island? Here is the entry from Tacoma Public Library’s database “Washington State Place names”:

Victim Island is southeast of Deer Harbor in West Sound in north central San Juan County. It was charted under this name in 1858 by Capt. Henry G. Richards, of the Royal Navy because it showed evidence of massacre of local Indians by Haida Indians from the Queen Charlotte Islands. Indians from the Queen Charlotte Islands raided the Indian villages along the shores of Puget Sound killing the men and taking the women and children as slaves and destroying everything that could not be taken as loot. 1 record displayed

From the Islands Weekly Newspaper

Summer youth success with Lopez Island Conservation Corps

September 17, 2012 · Updated 1:43 PM


Lopez Island Conservation Corps Program Leaders Amanda Wedow and Charlie Behnke are proud to announce that “LICC has just completed their most successful and productive summer youth season on record, with 13 youth participants working an estimated six miles of trail and logging more than 700 youth service hours!”

The youth spent nine weeks working hard, learning and exploring public lands in San Juan County.

This season LICC was contracted by Bureau of Land Management and Friends of the LIFE trail to perform extensive trail building, maintenance, and environmental education on south Lopez BLM sites, Patos Island and the LIFE trail.

BLM’s Recreation Manager Nick Teague was pleased to see the crews work.

“I am just blown away by the amount and quality of work the LICC crew has accomplished this season; y’all are a priceless asset to these public lands and the community,” he said.

LICC received special funding from BLM this season to integrate more environmental education and skill-building opportunities into the program. Time was set aside each crew day for lessons including sustainable trail design, Leave No Trace/Tread Lightly ethics, tool maintenance and sharpening, using a compass, knot tying, natural history of local flora and fauna, geology, hydrology, and more.

“It’s great to see the program growing and developing in new ways,” Behnke said. “I am especially excited about the educational portion. In the future I hope to incorporate a diversity of local experts to share their knowledge and skills with these youth.”

This year has been a momentous year for LICC, said Wedow.

“We obtained 501(c)3 nonprofit status making us eligible for many more grants and tax deductible donations (wink-wink), we helped to establish San Juan Island Conservation Corps who had a terrific first season, a van was donated to LICC by the Loyd family, the second annual Procession of the Species Celebration last April was a magnificent success, and then to have such a strong season; go LICC go,” she added.

Keep your eyes out for LICC monthly projects and learning opportunities throughout fall, winter and spring.  For more information contact or visit

Island Girrrrls!!!!

Over the last weekend in August, our lighthouse docents consisted of Barb, her friend Charlie and four wonderful young girls. What a time they all had! The ever resourceful Barb set up the two older girls, Jana and Anah-Kate with paints and the assignment to re-paint the “Lighthouse Open Today” sign. And what a great job they did! I’ll post pictures of the before, after and during  pix, plus general fun at the lighthouse and Minnie’s Beach.

Will the young ones ever forget their weekend on Patos Island? I think not!