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January 2022
Two kayakers floating in a bull kelp bed with blue sky and a band of clouds in the background.

Kayakers surveying bull kelp in Island County. Photo: Kelly Zupich

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Mapping bull kelp forest canopies with aerial imagery

Kelp forests are a vital natural resource that provide critical habitat to a range of marine life, fix nutrients for nearshore food webs, and play a foundational role in shaping the ecosystems of Puget Sound.

There is a growing concern that these forests are at risk of significant decline, and recent research has shown that areas such as South Puget Sound have lost most of their historic forest extent.

Many incredible projects are being conducted to monitor the distribution of kelp forests around Puget Sound, however additional data is needed to achieve the complete Sound-wide assessment necessary to discern long-term trends and identify areas that are declining and/or at the highest risk.

We're excited to share with you a new StoryMap about a recent collaboration between the WA State Department of Natural Resources and the Northwest Straits Commission. The StoryMap is about a project designed to assess whether drones and fixed-wing aerial imaging platforms would be suitable to complement the work of the volunteer kayak-based kelp survey program led by the MRCs. Check out the StoryMap to see the results! 
View the StoryMap

King tides and sea level rise

Screen shot of title slide of presentation on king tides and sea level rise
Recorded speaker event on king tides and sea level rise. 
Jefferson MRC and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center partnered to host a speaker event on king tides and sea level rise last month.

Speakers Bridget Trosin, Washington Sea Grant’s Coastal Policy Specialist, and Dave Wilkinson, Marine Weather Instructor, covered the natural conditions that create king tides, projected sea level rise for Port Townsend, the Washington King Tides Program, and local efforts to monitor these events and document total water levels. Click the link above to watch the recorded event. 

Removing derelict vessels from the Snohomish estuary

Image of derelict vessel grounded on a mud flat with blue sky in the background.
Derelict vessel removed from the Snohomish estuary. Photo: Snohomish MRC.
Snohomish MRC and Snohomish County have worked with the WA State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) since 2018 to support the removal of derelict boats from the Snohomish River estuary and Everett nearshore, addressing a pollution and habitat concern that has impacted the Snohomish River Estuary for years.

At the end of 2021 they wrapped up another season of removing vessels, with an additional four removals completed. Click here to learn more about derelict vessel removal operations in Snohomish County.  

Northwest Straits Foundation Update

Two aerial photos showing before and after at the Clark's Point restoration site. The before image has a rock breakwater and the right image shows that the breakwater was removed.
Clark's Point before (left) and after (right). Photos: Bob Morton.

Clark's Point Restoration

The NW Straits Foundation partnered with shoreline landowners Patrice Clark and Bill Wright to help them remove the large breakwater at Clark’s Point at the north end of Chuckanut Bay in Bellingham. The project site is within a conservation easement where the Clark family has been stewarding the lands for decades.

The boat basin breakwater was constructed in the 1950s and expanded in the 1960s out of large sandstone boulders, which were reportedly blasted from the adjacent cliff that comprises the western edge of the boat basin, and by blasting a gap into the narrow sandstone peninsula that formed the eastern side of the basin. 

American Construction removed 1,950 tons of rock from the site along with the remaining remnants of a small dock. Coastal Geologic Services provided project engineering and design. 

We will continue to watch the site as it changes over the next few years, looking at the small patches of eelgrass that provide refuge and foraging for salmonids as well as crabs, shrimp, marine birds and other critters. Learn more at
Upcoming Northwest Straits Commission meetings
January 28, 2022
February 25, 2022

Climate change symposium series

We’re halfway through our four-part symposium series focused on climate change in the Northwest Straits. These events are open to all members of the Marine Resources Committees, but even if you aren’t attending, the recordings are available to watch afterwards. Check out the first two at the links below:  
Session 1: Recreation – Featuring Dr. Meade Krosby, Katelyn Bosley, and Janna Nichols on different aspects of climate change and recreation. Watch the recording here. 

A planned presentation from Amber Forest, the State Parks presenter who had to cancel due to flooding issues, is also available to view as a pdf here.

Session 2: Coastal Resilience  Dr. Ian Miller and Lisa Kaufman provided excellent presentations on sea level rise and coastal resilience. Watch the recording here.
A house loaded on the back of a truck being moved away from the shoreline.
Image from Session 2 of our symposium series. Climate Change & Coastal Resilience

Upcoming events

February 23, 2022 - Save the Date. Virtual symposium on current research and recovery of Whatcom County marine waters and shorelines. 

January 26, 2022 Annual MRC Kelp Kayak Survey Update highlighting the kelp work from 2021. Via Zoom from 3:30pm – 5:00pm.  

January 28, 2022 Northwest Straits Commission meeting. Via Zoom 10am-12pm. 

March 1 – May 24, 2022 – Salish Sea Stewards Training Program. Learn more and register at

Creature feature

Sea otter image with logo of Clallam Marine Resources Committee
If you're out and about in Clallam County, keep an eye out for one of the MRC's creature feature outreach cards with fun facts about some of the marine species found in the area. The MRC hopes to use these cards to increase awareness about the vital role each species plays in the local ecosystem and share ways to help reduce impacts to marine life.

Click here to learn more about the work of the Clallam MRC. 

In other news

EPA announces $34 million in Puget Sound funding - December 16, 2021

A shellfish company gets into the weeds - High Country News, December 28, 2021

The Top 10 invaders in Washington: Wild pigs, monster fish, killer flowers and more - Seattle Times, December 26, 2021


The Northwest Straits Commission provides funding, training and support to seven county-based Marine Resources Committees (MRCs) to assist with their work protecting and restoring local marine resources. Learn more about the Commission on our website at



This work has been funded wholly or in part by the US EPA. The contents of this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the EPA, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use. 

Copyright © 2022 Northwest Straits Commission, All rights reserved.

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