Green Solutions to Stormwater Runoff

By now, you have probably heard that stormwater runoff is a looming threat to our Puget Sound. But the good news is that there are ways we can slow down and filter stormwater runoff, preventing pollutants from making it into our precious bodies of water. This video created by Sightline Institute features our very own Aaron Clark speaking about green infrastructure solutions to polluted stormwater runoff.

Report from the Field: Fun in the Sun with one of our New Partners

We often reference our 1,000 cups of coffee model for building partnerships. We kind of live and thrive by it. We believe building successful partnerships entails a lot of listening while sitting down and having several cups of coffee, talking face to face, discussing respective missions and figuring out how a new partnership can be mutually beneficial. In our case with Tableau, over the past 4 years or so we have probably exchanged over 1,000 emails before we had that first cup of coffee together on July 13th, 2018 out at Carnation Farms. As part of our Adopt-a-Buffer program we connected Tableau with Carnation Farms, so they could learn about an incredible local food source steeped in history and to help us restore the riparian habitat on the farm. We have some huge restoration goals there over the next few years and we really wanted Tableau to play a role on making those goals a reality. It was a hot day, but volunteers worked hard to restore over 3,000 square feet of fish and wildlife habitat along the Snoqualmie River. We look forward to the next cups of coffee with Tableau this fall when we invite them back out to the same site to plant native trees and shrubs!

Think your company would be interested in volunteering with us? Reach out to Chris LaPointe to find out more about the Adopt-a-Buffer program and ways to get involved!

Beneficial Venture’s Awards Stewardship Partners their First Grant

On June 15th, Stewardship Partners was awarded the first Beneficial Reinvestment Grant at Beneficial Venture‘s (BV) Launch Party at The Collective, Seattle. As Washington’s first social-purpose full-service real estate company, BV felt that their mission to support green and sustainable development was a great match for our hands-on approach to protecting Puget Sound. We are honored to have been recognized as a leader in people-powered conservation solutions. A portion of proceeds from every commercial, residential and land transaction by a Beneficial Ventures broker is donated to non-profits that help people and the planet. Learn more at www.beneficialventures.com.

Salmon-Safe Launches Green Bridges Pilot Study

For more than 80 years, polluted runoff from Seattle’s Aurora Bridge has been discharged untreated to Seattle’s Lake Washington Ship Canal, impacting migrating salmon and other aquatic life. That inspired environmentally innovative developer Mark Grey to join forces with Salmon-Safe to convene a multiple partnership to treat runoff through rain gardens, including at his Salmon-Safe certified Data 1 development project adjacent to the bridge.

Building on the success of the Aurora Bridge project, Salmon-Safe has expanded work to other bridges on the Lake Washington Ship Canal.  In the Fall of 2017, following a presentation by The Nature Conservancy regarding the research conducted for the Aurora Bridge, a private anonymous donor offered to fund a brief study to determine if the other 5 bridges which impact the Ship Canal had the potential for green infrastructure to mitigate stormwater runoff from the bridge deck spans.  Salmon-Safe retained KPFF Engineers to conduct the feasibility study and calculate the runoff. The runoff calculations are based on Seattle’s annual rainfall of 38 inches. In addition, KPFF identified a composite bridge deck material which could be used to replace the grating on four of the draw bridges and collect additional contaminated runoff that may have normally fallen through the grates. The product, Fiber Span, has been used in other parts of the country and has a good track record of life safety as well as noise reduction.

 

Approximately 98 million gallons of untreated stormwater enter the Lake Washington Ship Canal by way of roadway runoff from the six bridges that span the waterway. Image courtesy KPFF

 

Our Green Bridges Pilot Study included the Ballard Bridge, Fremont Bridge, I-5 Bridge, University Bridge, and Montlake Bridge.  With green infrastructure in mind, the scope of work was to determine the functionality of the existing runoff collection system, to quantify the extents of the collection basins, to develop new low impact development runoff collection and treatment strategies, and to locate adequate treatment sites.  City of Seattle utility maps and record drawings were the key sources used to gather information about each bridge and provided the means to create feasible runoff mitigation solutions.  Once the initial background information was obtained for each bridge, an approximate ratio of the bioretention area required to treat subsequent basin areas was used to size the treatment facilities.  In all, our team determined that with this commitment to bioretention we could collect and treat 98 million gallons of runoff per year and reduce the detrimental impacts that bridge runoff has on this important salmon migration corridor.


If you’d like to see Salmon-Safe inform other bridge design, you can start with the Magnolia Bridge retrofit project which is near other Salmon-Safe certified shoreline projects and in an area close to Elliott Bay. The comment period for Magnolia Bridge will remain open until Sunday, July 1.  Please visit: magnoliabridge.participate.online to participate. Let SDOT know that you’d like a third party like Salmon-Safe to review the design for fish friendly practices.

What’s Working & Who’s Missing?

Conversations of equity and youth pathways for green infrastructure

“I was shy, I was quiet, I would never be able to [speak to an audience like this]… Paulina gave me a voice… gave me a sense of purpose, gave me a safe place to do what I love to do which is to be an environmental activist for my community… in South Park and Georgetown.” These were the words of Daniella, a youth leader from the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps, speaking about her mentor, Paulina Lopez (who later received an award for youth mentorship from the City Habitats network). Voices and stories like Daniella’s took center stage at this year’s 3rd Annual Green Infrastructure Summit as we continued the quest to turn green infrastructure into a force for equity and environmental justice. A big part of that quest involves ensuring that as the green infrastructure sector grows, new jobs and career pathways are accessible and attractive to brilliant, diverse minds in communities disproportionately affected by pollution and environmental degradation.

On February 9th, Stewardship Partners reached another landmark in our leadership role of turning our region’s cities and towns from #GrayToGreen. As we convened the Puget Sound Green Infrastructure Summit, a City Habitats event, it was amazing to hear different perspectives from innovators across the region and sectors. Being mindful to “connect the dots” (.com, .org, .gov, and .edu), we are seeing more and more collaboration between public and private sectors, evident through the case studies and breakouts that day as well as research and implementation. The vision that inspired us to create this event in 2016 is beginning to turn into reality: the Puget Sound region is taking flight as a “Silicon Valley of Green Infrastructure.” 

Photo credit: The Nature Conservancy/Courtney Baxter

As with the two previous summits, we intentionally centered and highlighted equity within the agenda and speakers throughout the day. The main theme of this year’s summit was green infrastructure jobs and youth pathways. With the understanding that host committee members and summit attendees are not youth in the community, we held a companion event, The Youth Forum on Green Infrastructure Jobs and Youth of Color, to ensure the youth voice was accurately represented. Held in January, this event brought together 20 young people of color together to discuss what they saw as barriers to entry into the green infrastructure field. This eye-opening discussion allowed us to bring new voices and faces into the conversation, informing workforce decision-makers who were in attendance at the summit.

To see the presentations, Youth Forum video, and other resources shared at the summit visit the summit webpage at: www.12000raingardens.org/summit

Sustainability Super Heroes: Inspiring young environmental stewards

Elizabeth Wing, third-grade teacher, is our Sustainability Super Hero! On a daily basis she inspires her third-graders to become great stewards of the environment at Carnation Elementary School, about 30 miles from Seattle, in the Snoqualmie Valley. We met Elizabeth in 2015 at a Snoqualmie Indian Tribe Earth Day event at Tolt McDonald Park in Carnation. Her students were working with the Tribe to restore salmon habitat along the Tolt River. Elizabeth came up to our information table, picked up a rain garden pamphlet and declared, “I want our third-graders to build a rain garden at our school!” It just so happened that Stewardship Partners recently learned about a new grant program that would provide funds to do just that. We let Elizabeth know that we’d be interested in partnering on a project with her students and the rest is history.

The school now has a brand-new rain garden as of January 2018. Students helped to install the rain garden with the Stewardship Partners’ Snoqualmie Stewardship restoration crew and the Snoqualmie Tribe’s Environmental and Natural Resources program staff. A team from Aspect Consulting, who designed the rain garden, volunteered to help with the install.

         Snoqualmie Stewardship crew with 3rd grade students and Ms. Wing

The goal is for generations of students to learn about, care for, and maintain the rain garden. An additional part of the vision was to connect students with mother nature’s larger rain gardens; habitat buffers. As part of their science program, the students that installed the rain garden later joined Stewardship Partners and Nature Vision at Oxbow Farm and Conservation Center to help maintain and plant native trees and shrubs in our beloved “Alder Grove” buffer.

“The rain garden and restoration opportunities allowed students to develop a connection to the community, unique ecosystems, and to develop a sense of place. Elementary students learn best and remember important learning targets through project-based learning and inquiry field studies. They take their stewardship learning and share their insights with their families. All students see themselves as citizen scientists with powerful voices.”
— Elizabeth Wing

Nash’s Organic Produce: Echoing sustainability priorities through Salmon-Safe

What is Nash’s Organic Produce’s priority when it comes to farming?

Nash’s crew member Sydney with some fresh broccoli from the farm.

We work to create a food system that is capable of supporting our community in the long-term. This system must be sustainable, and that means organic. Protecting farmland from rampant development and training young farmers to carry on the work in the future are also critical to the sustainability of the local food system. Equally important is the continued development and selection of organic, open-pollinated seed, not just for our farm, but for organic farmers everywhere.

Why did you decide to become Salmon-Safe certified? What about the program drew you in?

Working with the environment, not exploiting it, is the spirit behind the original organic movement, of which Nash Huber is a part. Nash decided to farm organically back in the 60’s and 70’s because he believed he could produce healthy food for the community while protecting environmental quality for all wildlife, and maintaining healthy soil and water. Excellent water quality and having adequate amounts of water in the salmon-bearing Dungeness River is as important to Nash and his team as having healthy crops. Salmon are vital to the Northwest, culturally and ecologically. We recognize that value, not just for our local tribes, but for the environment as a whole.

What does the Salmon-Safe label mean to your consumers?

We have found that generally, our customers seek out organic food for their own health, but many of them are also keenly aware of how important salmon are to our region, and how important a healthy watershed is. We display our Salmon-Safe signs at our Store and farmers markets because it reinforces the concept for our customers that how we farm is as important as what we farm when it comes to the environment and well-being of all species
in our area.

 

Look for Nash’s at farmers markets throughout the region and find out more at: www.nashsorganicproduce.com

Salmon-Safe Puget Sound Growing and Changing

Beginning in 2004 with the certification of a group of environmentally innovative farmers in the Snoqualmie Valley, Stewardship Partners has co-implemented Salmon-Safe in western Washington in partnership with Portland-based Salmon-Safe. In recent months, Stewardship Partners and Salmon-Safe recognized new opportunities for growth and success in both the agricultural and urban programs, with Stewardship Partners leading the agricultural and golf certifications, and Salmon-Safe managing the expansion of the urban program around Puget Sound.

Ellen sipping Salmon-Safe wine while sailing with Melanie Moore Cochrun and Jill Jago of GLY Construction.

Ellen Southard, longtime Salmon-Safe champion, is leading the urban expansion at Site Story. Ellen has run the program for 9 years and volunteered with Salmon-Safe prior to joining the team in 2009 as the Urban Outreach Manager. Site Story is a practice dedicated to green building and advancing green rating systems in the Pacific Northwest, while supporting the growth of the urban program with green building specialists and a host of consultant collaborators.

On the urban front, Salmon-Safe seeks to lead a significant market shift to fish-friendly development that helps protect Puget Sound. With capacity funding from the Paul G. Allen Foundation and Bullitt Foundation, Salmon-Safe seeks to transition an additional 150 urban sites to certification over three years and inspire “beyond compliance” incentives with municipalities that would encourage developers to meet Salmon-Safe guidelines related to onsite stormwater management. “I’m grateful to all of our clients who join in the quest to save Puget Sound by working with Salmon-Safe,” says Ellen
Southard. “To save the salmon and the orca, we need every land owner to get involved.”

With new funding for urban work in Puget Sound, it was time to refocus the alliance between organizations in response to increased demand for both urban and farm certification in Puget Sound. The new partnership structure between Stewardship Partners and Salmon-Safe maintains a strong synergy between shared goals and mutual promotion of the farm and urban programming. Our teams continue to work closely together and collaborate on a regular basis. Stewardship Partners will continue to promote the urban program across the region and Salmon-Safe continues to provide operational support to the farm program. Amelia Bahr form our office remains the point of contract for Salmon-Safe’s Farm program, and David Burger will continue to lead Salmon-Safe Golf.

Breaking Barriers for GSI Projects

Here at Stewardship Partners we do our best to help get as many green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects in the ground as possible. Unfortunately, while most landowners love the idea of a beautiful rain garden or cistern going in their yard, there are barriers to getting these projects installed. Many great incentive programs exist for installing GSI, like RainWise Rebates, but cost continues to be one of the biggest barriers landowners face.

Newly installed rain garden getting its finishing touches.

We are working hard to address this issue by creating new incentive programs and expanding the financial assistance offered through the RainWise Program. Our recently launched GSI Mini Grants offer up to an additional $1,500 for landowners within the King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) service area that are not eligible for other incentive programs. The goal of the GSI Mini Grant is to help provide both guidance and financial assistance for communities that are in areas of ineligibility for other incentive programs and may otherwise be unable to install GSI projects. Our RainWise Access Grants help income-limited and underserved communities by providing an additional $1,000 for RainWise eligible homeowners and nonprofit community organizations, bridging the gap between the RainWise rebate amount and actual project costs. Without this tool, even relatively small out of pocket costs for GSI projects could pose a barrier to landowners otherwise ready to install GSI on their property.

The creation of these tools comes from actively listening to and discussing with key partners like and community members. With a little out of the box thinking, the Stewardship Partners team was able to create a whole organizational infrastructure that didn’t exist before, all because we listened to communities sharing their experiences and barriers with us. After many tweaks and improvements to both of these tools, we now have Mini Grants and Access Grants flying off the shelves. We have a great sense of pride and gratification knowing we are able to give communities a hand in their work to protect Puget Sound.

You can find out more about these financial tools and other incentive programs at www.12000raingardens.org.