Community

Citizen Action Training School coming to Olympic Peninsula

This fall, North Olympic Peninsula residents will have the opportunity to participate in a new program dedicated to training citizens to be effectively engaged in the recovery effort for Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca region in particular.

The Citizen Action Training School, or CATS, is a 12-week program in watershed and Puget Sound ecology, with an added focus on civic engagement in the legal and regulatory processes that affect resource management.

Through this training, CATS participants will have the opportunity to learn about regional and local ecology and the laws and regulations that affect the natural and human communities as well as become active stewards and advocates for their watersheds, the strait and greater Puget Sound, said Rachel Benbrook, CATS program coordinator.

The class will be held weekly in Sequim starting the evening of Sept. 10, with class sessions wrapping up by mid-December.

The training consists of 50 hours of class and field sessions, held primarily on weekday evenings plus three field trips on Saturdays. CATS is based on the success of a pilot project that took place in Snohomish County in 1988-1989.

That program, conducted by the Pilchuck Audubon Society, was focused on local watersheds and trained an active group of community members — many of whom went on to become leaders in the Puget Sound recovery effort.

More than 20 years later, several of the service projects started by that group are still active, including the Stillaguamish Festival of the River that held annually in Snohomish County. Today, CATS is being conducted by the Puget Sound Regional Fisheries Enhancement Groups, which received a two-year grant from the Puget Sound Partnership, the state agency that oversees recovery efforts around the sound. These efforts are led locally by the North Olympic Salmon Coalition.

The class sessions feature local and regional experts in strait and Puget Sound recovery efforts. Other instructors speak about civic engagement tools to inform citizens about how to engage in the public process and support community efforts to restore and protect north peninsula watersheds and shorelines.

NOSC is looking for participants from diverse backgrounds and occupations, such as teachers, marine-dependent businesses, government employees, tribal members and more. In lieu of course fees, participants give back by volunteering at least 50 hours to plan and complete a service project that aids the health of the strait and Puget Sound.

To apply or for more information, contact Reed Aubin at the North Olympic Salmon Coalition, raubin@nosc.org or 360-379-8051.Or, see www.pugetsoundcats.org.

The deadline for applications for the Sequim session is Aug. 18.

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