This past weekend, The Salmon Center was featured in the Kitsap Sun, talking about the Theler Center’s future and our commitment to the trail system, a community jewel. Executive Director Mendy Harlow wrote the piece, which is featured below in its entirety.
As next-door neighbors to the Theler wetlands, we are closely following news and developments out of the North Mason School District regarding the Theler trust and the future of the Mary E. Theler Community Center and trails.
The Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group (HCSEG) has a long and unambiguous history of supporting the preservation of the Theler wetlands and trails. Our board has always directed HCSEG to be as supportive as possible of Theler and has supported all of the actions taken by HCSEG staff to assist in the maintenance of Theler. The wetlands are a tremendous asset for our community and its preservation is a great opportunity for the public to observe, appreciate and even participate in habitat restoration via citizen science projects at the Salmon Center. Providing these opportunities has been at the very core of our organization’s mission for the past 25 years.
We have provided assistance with trail maintenance over the years and have offered to continue that important work. As good neighbors, we’d like to do everything we can to help. The Theler Wetlands and Union River Estuary, 31 acres of which HCSEG restored with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and others in 2012, is a very special place that will influence peoples’ hearts, minds and souls for years and years to come. The North Mason School District faces some difficult decisions in the weeks and months ahead and we continue to offer our support.
The Salmon Center is the home of HCSEG and the Theler trails and wetlands are critical not just to us, but the entire Hood Canal community. The wetlands and trails play a huge role in meeting our mission to deepen the connection of land, people and salmon through restoration, education and research so that wild salmon are once again abundant in the Pacific Northwest. The restored estuary in our front yard is a world-class outdoor classroom not just for elementary- and high-school students from North Mason and across Puget Sound, but also for college undergrads and graduate students to conduct important research.
Another important way that we are meeting our mission in this truly special place on a daily basis is with our WSDA-certified organic farm. Our projections are that in the coming year we will prevent an estimated 14,000-plus gallons of animal waste from entering the watershed, a critical move we will make to protect the Union River and Union River estuary that will directly contribute to the success of the state’s Summer Chum Recovery Plan.
For 25 years now, our organization has been fighting for the health of Hood Canal. We were proud to lease office space in the Theler Community Center. In 2009, though, we acquired 38 acres of the neighboring Johnson Farm on Roessel Road, which we now call home. We are confident that the Theler trails will be here as long as good folks in the community, including HCSEG staff and board members, are available to help.