WSU Shore Stewards is our frontline educational program to teach salmon-friendly best practices to shoreline property owners, the direct stewards of much of our county's critical nearshore habitat. The MRC has funded this WSU Extension program in Island County since 2003. As of mid-2011 we had enrolled some 750 property owners in Island County and about 3,000 regionally, throughout Puget Sound.
In partnership with WSU Beach Watchers, we modeled Shore Stewards after the National Wildlife Federation's popular Backyard Wildlife Habitat program and introduced the pilot program in 2003 on Camano Island.
In 2005 we expanded the program to Whidbey Island and to the counties bordering Hood Canal -- Jefferson, Kitsap and Mason. In 2006, with the help of the Puget Sound Action Team, we expanded Shore Stewards again to include Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish and Clallam counties, and in 2007 established a Washington Shore Stewards website to bring all the county Shore Stewards programs together with a single, regional focus.
Shore Stewards recognizes, educates and assists shoreline property owners, including homeowners, businesses, parks, farmers, municipalities, port districts and others, in learning and applying best management practices. The program recognizes that most coastal and nearshore property is under the exclusive control of private owners. Their voluntary land and water-use practices will have more direct effect on the condition of our shoreline and marine resources than almost anything else other stakeholders may do.
Members of Shore Stewards receive a monthly newsletter by e-mail that provides information on such helpful topics as native vegetation, bluff erosion, shoreline armoring, septic system care and natural shoreline processes. They also receive invitations to related workshops and talks, and assistance with resources and information to help them manage their land.