Projects & Activities - Join Us!

Our work parties are based out of the Cowling Creek Center, 20325 Miller Bay Rd NE, Poulsbo.  Participants should dress for the weather and bring work gloves and boots suitable for creek wading and mud.  If brush cutters, shovels, or other tools are needed, we will post that on this site.  


Participants are asked to sign a Volunteer Release Form from the Great Peninsula Conservancy (they own the CCFP) which can be downloaded below and will be available at the work site before work is started,  Participants under 18 years of age need to have a parent or guardian sign their form.


Work parties help with many different chores including trail building and maintenance, brush clearing, and removal of ivy, holly, and laurel.  Volunteers are greatly appreciated!

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The annual cleanup of Miller Bay will be on Saturday, July 10th.  Homeowners can pick up the special Kitsap orange garbage bags from the orange bucket in front of Mattson's Bay Marina, 20622 Miller Bay Rd after June 15th.  Bags of beach trash should be placed above high tide mark (high tide is 11.6 ft at 7:51 pm) no later than 5 pm on 7/10.  FOMB will pick up and transport the trash to Mattson's Marina and then to the county transfer station.  Questions: call Nancy at 360.271.6565 or Paul at 360.509.8091

Pictured at left: Sharon Nichols at Miller Bay Clean Up

Work Parties (see above for dates/details)

Removal of Invasive Species

Friends of Miller Bay hold work parties (usually in the spring) to remove ivy, holly, and Japanese knotweed from the Cowling Creek Forest Preserve. Your help with these parties is always welcomed and appreciated.

Trail Work

The trail network on the CCFP needs to be cleared and repaired.  We would also like to install signposts.

Contact D’Archangels at or Paul Dorn at to volunteer.

Plastic sleeves protect the tree leader.

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Forest Restoration

Friends of Miller Bay has been planting trees in the Cowling Creek Forest Preserve since 2004 when FOMB member Niki Quester organized a group of kids to plant trees in the upper North Cowling Creek area.  Niki dubbed that area the Children’s Forest and it has been called that ever since.  The surviving trees are now 15 to 20 feet high.


Additional tree planting became an almost yearly event starting in 2011.  In 2016, the Great Peninsula Conservancy, who owns the property, was able to get a grant to plant 450 hemlock and cedar trees along the riparian area of the main channel of Cowling Creek.  The conditions of the grant required that each tree be planted in the center of a 3 foot circle cleared of all vegetation.  After the seedlings were put in the ground, a plastic mesh tube supported by bamboo stakes on either side was placed over each tree to protect the “leader”.  This procedure was required by the grant and required an inspection upon completion.


Work parties have continued to clear around the small trees and give them their best chance of survival.  A rough survey of the trees at their first anniversary of having been planted, showed about a 82% survival rate.  Some new trees will be planted in 2019 to replace trees that didn’t make it.

Thinned alder are stacked to mimic a fallen old growth tree.  This provides habitat for smaller animals.

Outmigration Trap  (Volunteers Needed!)

Friends of Miller Bay president, Paul Dorn, partnering with volunteers from Trout Unlimited, installed an outmigration trap at Grover’s Creek hatchery in 2016.  It was entirely funded by a TU Embrace A Stream Grant and is 100% volunteer manned.  This trap captures everything moving downstream that goes through the collection box.  All captured fish are measured along with everything else (frogs, crayfish, insects, salamanders, etc.) and recorded before being released unharmed.


This project allows access to the natural production of watersheds.  Of special interest is whether there are any steelhead left and to what extent have they bred with cutthroat?  DNA from a tiny piece of fin tissue (which grows back) is analyzed at WDFW’s Olympia’s lab.  This is critical data for the State and the Tribes in order to manage steelhead recovery programs.


In 2019 the trap was already installed by early January and immediately captured larval shellfish (probably freshwater mussels, but unidentified).  A 21” male steelhead was found a week later.  Grover’s watershed (Miller Bay’s largest) is still very productive with mostly native species.  It’s main challenge is people - our activities and numbers.


This is a citizen science project providing valuable information that is not being done by any government agencies.   Anyone who would like to help monitor the trap is welcome.  High school and college students can participate for college credit. It is checked daily from January to June 15th. If you would like to help with this project, contact Paul Dorn:  <>.


FOMB member Bob Nichols prepares to remove mussels from Miller Bay to be tested for biotoxins.

Shellfish Biotoxin Monitoring for Miller Bay


Since 1996, Friends of Miller Bay volunteers have collected mussel samples from the bay twice monthly from mid-May until mid-November for biotoxin testing by the Kitsap Public Health District (KPHD).  Mussels are used as an indicator species of toxin levels in shellfish because they pick-up and release the poisons in their tissues faster than any other species.


The samples are tested for their levels of paralytic shellfish poison (PSP), diarrheic shellfish poison (DSP), and amnesic shellfish poison (ASP); the three toxins that make up what is more commonly known as red tide.


Each biotoxin has a threshold level used as criteria to open and close the bay to shellfish harvesting.  If the threshold for any of the toxins is exceeded, it is called a “hot sample” and the bay is closed to shellfish.  There must be two consecutive “clean” samples to reopen it.


The Washington State Department of Health has created an excellent overview of biotoxins; why they monitor, charts of the trends both locally and around the Sound, and shellfish safety.  Do yourself a favor and check out the link included below  to see this important and interesting information and if you are planning on digging shellfish anywhere in the Sound, you can call the Shellfish Safety Hotline at (800) 562-5632 for up-to-date information.  



Bacterial contamination caused by E. coli  has resulted in a long standing shellfish harvest closure in Miller Bay.  Separate from the biotoxin testing that Friends of Miller Bay volunteers facilitate, the Kitsap Public Health District does periodic sampling for bacteria levels in the bay.  In recent years, they have shown a steady reduction of bacteria and KPHD hopes to be able to rescind the closure soon, if the trend continues. 








Olympia Oysters in Miller Bay


For many years FOMB President, Paul Dorn, has been hoping to reintroduce Olympia oysters to Miller Bay.  They were once plentiful and the only oyster found in Puget Sound, but over harvesting and environmental changes wiped out these small mollusks many years ago and they are now rarely found. The Pacific oyster we are used to seeing on Puget Sound beaches is an non native species.


In the summer of 2018, Betsy Peabody, who is working with the Puget Sound Restoration Fund on a project to restore Puget Sound Olympia oyster reefs, offered to help bring these dainty little oysters back to Miller Bay.  With help from FOMB volunteers, 20,000 young oysters were planted in mesh bags on a substrate of Pacific oyster shells on Clam Island with hopes of creating an oyster reef there.  The bags were anchored to the bottom of the bay in an area exposed at minus tides.


The oysters have a multitude of obstacles to prevent their success:  silt, pollution, frosty winter nights, and the Japanese Oyster Drill can all be problems.  The Olympia Oyster bags are cleaned monthly to remove algae, snails and to spread out the developing oysters.  We’ll keep you posted on this project.


Oyster reef in 6/19


Betsy Peabody supervising the creation of an "oyster reef" in Miller Bay. 8/18


Oyster Drill and eggs


Fisher Swanson helping to clean oyster reef 6/19