Two days in the other Washington

Our intrepid crewI found myself in what was a departure from my well worn paths across the Puget Sound region. I was joining a group of colleagues to talk with national leadership and decision makers  about the health of Puget Sound and how their  voice and actions were critical to protecting the Salish Sea, the nation’s largest estuary. Our visit was both timely and impactful. Our team represented a partnership from many nonprofit, for profit, public and private organizations. We arrived carrying the weight that our progress to-date has been slow, balanced with excitement because momentum is gaining and the tide is turning. WE ARE MAKING PROGRESS.

During our whirlwind visit, we met with many elected leaders including, Congressmen Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer and Rick Larson, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, and Senator Patty Murray. We also spent time with EPA staff who have been dedicated to the health of Puget Sound and other water bodies. Their bold vision and dedication have brought positive impacts, not just for the ecosystem, but for our economy and community. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to thank them for their hard work. We left  inspired, knowing that our local innovations are having an impact, but also with our minds more clearly around the importance of continued collaboration with our federal agency partners along with the local landowners and regional leaders that we usually collaborate with.

I have gained a deeper appreciation for the incredible team that I work with locally. When we first arrived in D.C., we were greeted by the words of Puget Sound Partnerships executive director, Sheida Sahandy. “This group of allies is a family.” I have often felt this way, but the sentiment rings even more true  after this lobbying effort. Each partner is unique, has distinct talents and proclivities and we really do cheer for each other. Our shared love for the work that we do for the amazing place called Puget Sound, it’s people, it’s water, it’s land, it’s air, and many other inhabitants, ties us together.

As a region, there is so much pride, love and respect for our Pacific Northwest home. Sometimes, we don’t agree on the best path forward, but still agree on the goal of a healthy and resilient region full of opportunities. So with that, after spending two days on the other coast thanking federal leaders who may not often hear those words, I turn to you, our friends and partners and want to extend my thanks to you as well.

We are grateful for this Stewardship Partners community that truly is shining a bright green beacon for all to see. 

Sincerely, Dr Aaron Clark

Puget Sound Partnership Press Release

Puget Sound Success Stories

Terra Blanca – A Vineyard’s Salmon-Safe Story

Terra Blanca Winery sits atop an arid, treeless slope known as Red Mountain next to the Yakima River in Central Washington. Owners Keith and ReNae Pilgrim, who purchased the vineyard in 1992, sought a third-party certification that highlighted their environmentally responsible practices.  About 10 years ago, they found their perfect fit in Salmon-Safe.

Although they qualified for organic certification, they were concerned that organic wines often go for a lower price point. In the long run, they envisioned a marketing opportunity for their small eco-region, where over 15 wineries are located. The idea is that area vineyards could take advantage of their small appellation by collectively adopting Salmon-Safe practices, benefiting from the marketing resources offered under the eco-label. Keith appreciates the approach, “Stewardship Partners and Salmon-Safe work with farmers, considering where they are at first, to develop a truly workable plan.”

Salmon-Safe also provides a vehicle for Terra Blanca to support a conservation organization that shares its values. “We can ship a bottle across the country and even if the recipient does not know the Salmon-Safe label specifically, they see the logo and know that it was produced in an environmentally responsible manner.”

Farming consciously to minimize harm is what it all boils down to; “Reducing our use of chemicals is convenient – even if the chemical in question is Ivory Soap – Salmon-Safe makes things easier because it fosters a system that causes minimal disruption. Basically, we try to take care of one problem without creating others.” Keith also strategically places plants that pests prefer next to his grapes. Cutworms, for example, prefer mustard over grape vines. “We provide better choices for these insects. It’s like good parenting.”

With the Yakima River just across the road, Terra Blanca is very mindful of all water run-off by containing it in two ponds on the property. Keith, an avid fly-fisherman, always keeps the health of the river in mind.

In terms of soil and water conservation, rigorous application of compost helps retain water and keep dust down in the dry central Washington climate. “Our goal is to put back in to the soil each year what the previous year’s crop had taken out; nitrogen being the primary nutrient we are most often trying to replace.”

To promote biodiversity, the winery cultivates a natural sagebrush habitat between vineyard blocks. “We have healthy populations of chucker and quail, dens of coyotes and some deer that visit in the winter. We work with the resources we have; like using grape skins to keep dust down on the roads. This creates a warm layer that ducks use throughout the winter.”

While this work can be hard, Salmon-Safe farming practices helps Terra Blanca grow grapes that produce flavorful wines they are striving to create while giving back to the land. If you are interested in learning more about Salmon-Safe vineyards and farming practices, please contact Amelia at To learn more about Terra Blanca, please contact Jordan Neuhaus at

Community Connections – Stewardship Never Tasted so Good

We’ve had a great time collaborating with local retailers and restaurants over the last couple of months. Our Salmon-Safe rural program provides a perfect vehicle to bring sustainability right to the table where people can support conservation while they eat, shop and imbibe.  Recently, local gelato maker Gelatiamo, who always uses Salmon-Safe certified Fresh Breeze Dairy milk and seasonally uses Salmon-Safe certified Tonnemakers Farms fruit donated 20% of the day’s proceeds on March 31st to support our work. On April 5th, Whole Foods in Chambers Bay, who carries several Salmon -Safe products including Wilcox Farms eggs, Finnriver Cider and Hopworks beer, donated 5% of the day’s sales, while two Seattle beer and cider establishments The Peddler and The Noble Fir donated a portion of sales from each pint sold for a day and provided space for us to educate customers about how we all can take steps to improve the health of our communities and Puget Sound.

We love working with our partners to support our Salmon-Safe farmers and all of our hands-on conservation programs!

Welcome Samantha Neukom to the Stewardship Board of Directors

Welcome Samantha Neukom: Sam Neukom is the Chief Strategy Officer for Northbound, where she provides clients a unique depth of experience, perspective and process insights. From east-coast big agency to west coast boutique, Sam has honed her craft to a laser focus. For more than 17 years she has contributed to a wide variety of businesses such as Starwood Hotels, Bank of the West, P&G, Snapple, Odwalla, Tanqueray, Microsoft, Redfin, Pfizer, Tylenol, Lenscrafters, Apptio, NetApp, Thomson Reuters, and Kaiser Permanente.  Sam developed the City Habitats brand and volunteers with her daughter Poppy at volunteer projects on farms along the Snoqualmie River.

The New Arbor Blocks Development is Positively Woonerful

Arbor Blocks boasts the world’s first Salmon-Safe certified woonerf. Through its incorporation of green roofs, bioretention planters, and water efficient irrigation, this project creatively displays Salmon-Safe’s philosophy of encouraging low-impact practices that go beyond environmental regulations.  Located on 8th Avenue North, between Thomas and Harrison Streets; Vulcan’s new Arbor Blocks Development will be home to Facebook’s Seattle office. The project consists of two 6-story commercial midrise structures totaling 384,000 s.f. of office space and 4100 s.f. of street level retail space.  The two buildings feature increased setbacks to preserve light and air for the existing sweet gum tree canopy being preserved along 8th avenue North. What is now a standard  street will be converted into a pedestrian-friendly woonerf with a specialty paving pattern and widened sidewalks. Plantings, seating and artwork will be added to the project to incorporate a community gathering space.

The 8th Ave N woonerf will include approximately a dozen planting areas ranging from 100 to 2,000 sf. Together with the green roofs, these planting areas represent a sizable increase in urban habitat and natural public space compared to existing conditions. Several large existing trees, primarily sweet gum, will remain and be surrounded by porous pavement for additional stormwater management.

The project is designed by Graphite Architects and Hewitt Landscape Architects. The general contractor is Lease Crutcher Lewis, a Salmon-Safe Accredited Construction firm. Construction on the new buildings began at the end of 2016. Facebook will move into the development in the fall of 2018. In addition to the site achieving Salmon-Safe certification the buildings will be targeting LEED Gold certification as well.

Rendering courtesy of Graphite Design


What is a Woonerf? A woonerf is a Dutch term for a living street. Woonerfs include shared space for pedestrian, auto and bike friendly users. The corridors are designed with traffic calming strategies and low speed limits.  The term “woonerf” has been adopted in the U.S., typically referring to complete streets where equal priority is given to all modes of transportation including automobiles, bicycles, and pedestrians.  The word, of Dutch origin, literally translates as “living yard” or “residential grounds”.