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FREE January Forest Health Webinars

Learn why trees are dying and what to do

Dead and dying trees have proliferated throughout western Washington. Trees were particularly hard-hit in 2018, especially western red cedars, causing concern for many property owners. Washington State University (WSU) Extension Forestry will be giving a free public seminar to explain why so many trees are dying right now and what property owners can do.

Learn what makes forests healthy or unhealthy and how to recognize when there’s a problem on your property. Topics include insects, diseases, and drought, including their environmental roles and the important interactions between them. Learn about what property owners should do (and not do) to increase tree resilience and mitigate impacts. The webinar will be taught by Kevin Zobrist, associate professor of forestry at WSU and author of the book Native Trees of Western Washington.

Details and Registration

The webinar, which is a shorter version of our regular forest health seminar, will be offered twice on Tuesday, January 15th: 12:05 – 12:55 p.m. and 7:05 – 7:55 p.m.

The webinar is free, but space is limited and pre-registration is required. Register for the 12:05 session or register for the 7:05 session. Connection and log-in information will be provided upon registration.

For more information contact Brendan Whyte, WSU Extension Forestry, or call 425-357-6023.

Acknowledgements and Accommodations

These programs are made possible in part by funding from Island County, Washington State University, and WSU Extension Island County

Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication or program information or reasonable accommodation need to contact Brendan Whyte at WSU Extension Forestry or call 425-357-6023 at least two weeks prior to the event.

Additional Offering

This seminar will also be offered as one of the sessions at Sound Waters University on Saturday, February 2nd in Langley. This seminar is included in the cost of admission to the event. Space is limited, so register for Sound Waters University early to ensure your spot. For more information, contact the organizers of Sound Waters University.

For more information contact Ann Precup, WSU Extension Coordinator for Camano Island     *     (360) 639-4608


2019 Coastal Volunteer of the Year Award

Jan Holmes (read more about Jan’s contributions)

Coastal Volunteer of the Year Award Nominations Now Being Accepted

The Island County Marine Resources Committee (MRC), Sound Water Stewards (SWS), and Washington State University (WSU) Extension Island County are pleased to announce the call for nominations for the 2019 Jan Holmes Island County Coastal Volunteer of the Year Award. This award is open to all volunteers, regardless of membership to any one organization or institution, participating in or supporting science and outreach efforts related to protecting or restoring the coastal resources of Island County.


Nominations are requested for any and all individuals who have demonstrated their dedication and involvement in the many services, science and outreach efforts relating to the health of Island County’s marine environment. The objective of this award is to recognize volunteer efforts by selecting and publicly recognizing one who best demonstrates the contribution of all. Any and all volunteer efforts, whether as an individual or as part of a team should be recognized as adding to the collective wellness of the marine environment and the knowledge base of our marine area.

Start now by looking at the individuals with whom you volunteer. Take note of the contributions that they make to the total effort. Are they volunteers you enjoy working with? Are they dedicated, helpful and consistent in their approach and efforts to get the job done?

If so, fill out the Nomination Form and nominate them for this prestigious award.

2019 Coastal Volunteer Information and Criteria


Nomination forms must be received by 4:30 PM Friday, January 11, 2019.


Thank you for your participation.


Anna Toledo: 360-678-2349,

2018 Women in Agriculture

Mark your calendar and join us at our WSU Extension, Island County office in Coupeville for inspiration, knowledge and networking on Saturday, October 27, 2018 for the 7th Annual Women in Agriculture Conference.

“PUMP UP YOUR FINANCIAL FITNESS” is the theme for the seventh annual Women in Agriculture Conference. It will be an engaging, interactive day full of inspiration, learning and networking with other women farmers. The 2018 conference is a one-day event held simultaneously at locations throughout Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.

The day starts with learning how to use your “financial numbers” to establish a cash flow that includes your farm and personal living expenses to strengthen your farm operation. The day continues with a local panel of women farmers who will talk about the different ways they balance their lives – with their top tips for handling finances and their personal lives. The final take-away message with the capnote speaker will be all about making it possible to do what you love the most!

Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and interact. It will be a full day of learning and networking!

Mark your calendar and join other women to learn, network and be ready to take action!

Visit the website for more information: or contact one of us at WSU Extension. We hope to see you at this year’s conference!

Loren Imes, for information about the Coupeville location-

Donna Rolen-

Margaret Viebrock, Chairman-

or call- (509) 745-8531



WSU Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local WSU Extension office.

What’s up with Recycling and How You Make a Difference

This article was originally written for August 16, 2018 issue of Whidbey Weekly


By Sara Bergquist, Waste Wise Program Educator/Coordinator

Recycling – this seems that is should be easy but, in reality, it can be a little complicated.  You can recycle some things in some areas, but not in others.  Some places you have to sort your recycling yourself but in other places it all goes into the same bin.  Some towns go by numbers, while others go by shape.  What is going on?


There are several things that impact recycling do’s and don’ts, but this year it boils down to two things: (1) our recycled commodities market and (2) contamination (i.e. things going into recycling that should not).  Specifically, contamination has resulted in a loss of market for the majority of our recycled material.


We recycle in two basic ways.  Some of us separate our recyclable items by material into the appropriate bin at a recycle park.  This is known as “source separation”.  Some of us have an easier job in that we have curbside pickup where we place all of our recyclables in one container.  This is known as “single stream” recycling.  Our container – along with many others – goes to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where the paper is separated from the aluminum and so on.  Whether self-sorted or single streamed, eventually all of this material is compressed into bales of one commodity or another.  Examples include mixed paper, aluminum, and cardboard.  These commodities become material for global manufacturing industries.

The majority of these materials, until recently, were shipped to China where they were used in the manufacturing of new products.  Reusing these materials lessens the need for virgin natural resources, decreases the environmental costs of manufacturing, and keeps them out of the landfill.  The problem was that we (and many other countries) were sending over bales of contaminated products.  The bales did not contain the single items they were supposed to.  For example, the paper or plastic bales might have had glass shards or tin buried within the bale.  It had to be resorted and some of it had to be thrown away once it reached China because contaminated bales do not provide good material to use in new products.

Two quick questions arise: Why are these bales of recycled materials contaminated? What happened to the China market?


Contamination in recycling is a serious issue which causes three major problems: (1) it increases inefficiency at sorting facilities, (2) lowers the value of the product, and (3) it leads to greater waste.  How much of a problem is this?  One out of every four pounds of material put into the recycle bin shouldn’t be there.  Additionally, the stuff that should be in the bin can be ruined by stuff that shouldn’t be.  Most of the country uses single stream recycling.  Everything goes into the same bin.  The “almost empty” milk jug goes in.  The newspapers go in.  The glass bottles go in.  The milk gets on the paper, causing mold to develop. The bottles break and shards of glass get on everything. These problems are compounded by single stream recycling, but they also happen with source separation.  Additionally, people are confused about what to recycle or they want to recycle things that are not recyclable.  Deli trays, stuffed animals, and dirty diapers (yes) end up in recycle.  All of this material goes to the MRF, where technology and many hands do their very best to sort it out.  The difficulty is that the technology is not advanced enough, as of yet, to do a perfect job.  All of this results in increased contamination.  This brings us to our second question – that of the recycling market in China.


The West Coast has relied heavily on China as our major market for recycled commodities.  Shipping containers that bring goods to the West Coast and would otherwise go back empty provided an opportunity to be filled with recyclables.  Because of this the West Coast has developed limited infrastructure for using recycled material.  China, until recently, accepted over 50% of the world’s mixed paper and plastic.  With these materials came trash and heavy impacts to the environment and human health.  China has been working on the problem for several years and in 2017 they implemented extensive restrictions.  This initiative, called “National Sword,” established a new, very limited list of accepted items.  Thus, many items we previously recycled now have no China market.  Additionally, the acceptable level of contamination for recyclables China does still take decreased to just 0.5%!  Considering that our average level of contamination is approximately 25%, this is a change that our systems are not currently capable of achieving.  As a result, much of this recycling has stacked up as we work to find new markets and establish infrastructure regionally.


The recycling industry is tackling this challenge with a three-pronged approach.  They are working to improve sorting technology.  They are encouraging the development of new markets, both in new uses for recycled materials and in increasing other markets locally and globally.  Finally, they are reaching out to the public with educational campaigns to reduce contamination.


The biggest way you can make a difference is to recycle right by avoiding contamination.  We contaminate by trying to recycle things that aren’t recyclable or aren’t empty, clean, and dry.  We want to recycle everything.  This is wishful recycling or “wish-cycling.”  We look at the bottom and see the triangle arrow and assume it can be recycled.  We are not sure so we toss it in the recycle bin, thinking someone will take it out if it doesn’t belong there.  This seems helpful, but in fact it does more harm than good.  Wish-cycling can cause contamination resulting in an entire bale of recyclable materials being thrown out.  The same goes for tossing in dirty jars, wet paper, or used pizza boxes, all of which become contamination.


In Island County, beginning this Saturday, August 18th, there will be a change in which plastics are acceptable as recyclables at recycle parks and transfer stations.  (There are no changes to curbside recycling at this time.)  All non-plastic item rules (i.e. cardboard, mixed paper, food tins, etc.) will remain unchanged.  Accepted plastic items must fill two requirements: first, they must have the correct shape and second, they must have the right number in the recycle symbol on the bottom.  The shape must be a bottle, tub, jug or jar.  The number must be 1 or 2.  That is for plastic, only #1 or #2 bottles, tubs, jugs, and jars will be accepted for recycling.   Any other plastics will not be accepted and are considered contamination.   Additionally, it is very important that all recyclable items (plastic and otherwise) be empty, clean, and dry.  With these new changes beginning on Saturday, we should eliminate a great deal of the wish-cycling that occurs, as we no longer have to remember if clamshells or deli trays are acceptable (which they are not).  For plastics, simply put: #1 and #2 plastic bottles, tubs, jugs, and jars are recyclable.  Everything (plastic, metal, aluminum, paper, etc..) must be empty, clean, and dry.  Oh, and no caps or lids, please.

Not all these items are #1 or #2 recyclable plastics
Can you spot the problem items?

*paper drink carton     *aluminum can      *aluminum foil     *shopping bag     *plastic cup    *lid     *plastic deli container


When you are standing at the recycle bin wondering why you can’t recycle something, these changes may not seem like a good thing.  However, there are several pieces of good news.  First, consider that China is working hard to clean up their environment.  To see what they are working to fix, consider watching the film, “Plastic China”.  Second, the items that are acceptable account for the greatest majority of what we recycle.   By reducing our wish-cycling and sticking to empty, clean, and dry we are actually recycling more as less is being thrown out due to contamination.  Third, these restrictions in the Chinese market (and other foreign importers of recyclables) require us to develop creative markets and uses for our own materials, as well as reconsider what we use for packaging.  Finally, although we all want to be able to recycle more, the greatest impact we can have on our environment is to consider more carefully what we buy.  Avoiding the purchase of single use plastic by choosing reusable items is a great step.  So, while we will be limited for a while, in what we can recycle, there are also many positives. In the meantime, remember the following mantra:  EMPTY, CLEAN, and DRY for all and #1’s and #2’s bottles, tubs, jugs, and jars for plastics.  It is easier than ever to recycle right and you can help make a difference on Whidbey by doing so!

If you are interested in learning more about how to reduce our waste footprint or about sustainable living, contact Waste Wise at WSU Extension Island County.

Email or call 360-639-6062.

Forest Stewardship Coached Planning

A forestry class for property owners

Winter 2018 – Online

Your Land. Your Trees. Your Goals.

Natural beauty, wildlife, ecosystem health, harvest income, family ties, privacy, and peace and quiet are some of the many reasons people value their forestland. Whatever your values are, this comprehensive university-based forestry class will help you get the most out of the land you love. Whether you have just a few wooded acres or a larger forest tract, if you have trees on your property, this class is for you.  MORE…

click here for the

Complete Schedule and Syllabus


The registration deadline is January 30th.

Register by mail

Send in the Registration Form with a check (made out to WSU Extension).

Register online

Register online with a credit card via Eventbrite (subject to credit card processing fee).

Waste Reduction Survey Results

Survey Final – click to view

Classes and Seminars

The WSU Extension, Island County HIGHER EDUCATION CENTER provides Island County residents with educational opportunities through the WSU Distance Learning Program.

Upcoming Seminars

These distance learning seminars are free and open to the public.  If you would like to participate in one of the listed events, come in to the WSU Extension office at 406 N. Main Street in Coupeville  approximately 15 minutes before it is scheduled to begin.



For Information About Classes 

If you are enrolled in a course at the WSU Everett Campus you can attend classes at the WSU Extension Office at 406 N. Main Street in Coupeville for more information see


Hardening/Drying out Latex Paint

Dumped illegally, liquid latex paint can be a hazard by plugging or damaging septic fields, overloading sewage treatment plants and creating environmental hazards on the ground.

Residents should dry out latex paint and stains and put it in the garbage with the lid off, using one of several methods:

  • Air:
    • Remove the lid and let the paint dry out in the can
    • Protect from freezing and rain as well as curious children and animals
    • This only works when an inch or less of paint is left in the can and is most effective in the warmer months.
  • Cat litter:
    • Mix latex paint with an equal amount of clay-based cat litter
    • Stir in completely and let the paint dry. It takes about 10 minutes for the cat litter to harden.
    • Add more cat litter if the paint is soft or runny after 10 minutes. Repeat until the material is very thick.
    • Sawdust, dirt, and shredded paper can be tried as alternatives to cat litter.
    • If there is not enough room in the paint can to stir in enough cat litter to dry it all out, pour off paint into any plastic or cardboard container that is large enough to hold the material, including a yogurt container, plastic tub, shoebox, or other convenient container.
  • Paint hardener:
    • Mix latex paint or stain with commercial paint hardener according to the directions.
    • At the end of that time, paint will have a tacky, oatmeal-like consistency that will not spill out.
  • Other ideas of using up latex paint or stains:
    • Use the paint when painting a garage, dog house or use as a primer coat for another painting project.
    • Donate excess paint to a school, theater group or non-profit agency.

Be sure it’s latex paint or stain! Look on the label for the word “latex,” or for directions to clean up or thin with water. Oil-based paints should be brought to a hazardous waste facility for proper disposal. Once the latex paint has hardened or solidified, place the can with the lid off in your garbage container. The garbage hauler needs to see that the paint has been solidified.