Time to Stand up for Our Beloved Orcas

by David Burger, Executive Director

With the devastating news about Tahlequah and Scarlet this summer, I found myself longing for a time when their struggles were not a common theme. I reflected on a time when I was a young boy and my grandfather took me out to his sailboat to see a pod of orcas in the San Juan Islands and was blown away by these majestic creatures.  This memorable moment gave me great respect for the natural environment and a big reason why I’ve dedicated my life empowering people to become caretakers of the environment and our native wildlife.  Our Southern Resident Killer Whale population have been in the national spotlight and it hasn’t been good news with no new calves born in the last three years.  There are many factors for the decline in the 30-year low population relating to pollution, habitat, food supply, etc., and Stewardship Partners directly worked to solve these.

Orcas rely heavily on Chinook salmon, another endangered species, making our work to restore habitat and keep our waters clean one of the most important actions we can do to help orcas.  It’s clear that we are at a critical time for our Southern Resident orcas, and we urge you to take action to protect and restore habitat. Become a Stewardship Partner today by donating, volunteering, or learning what actions you can do in your daily lives.  It’s my hope that I can show my grandkids orcas in the Puget Sound one day.

Stories of Region-Wide Environmental Success

Great ideas often start with conversations. So many environmental stewards (including Stewardship Partners), community groups, conservation districts and environmental government programs are working hard to protect and restore the ecosystems that make this place special, yet we rarely hear about all the positive impacts of that work.

However, the time has come to start celebrating the work being done and raising awareness of projects big and small. To recruit and empower all our friends and neighbors to become stewards, we need to show them that positive change through stewardship is possible, these projects are working, and they will be duly rewarded for joining the stewardship ranks.

Stewardship is dispersed across the region and is carried out by a lot of hands, working on many different projects all towards a clear and collective goal of a healthier Puget Sound. In an effort to see where we are at in reaching this collective goal, Stewardship Partners created Sound Impacts (SoundImpacts.org). After surveying dozens of partners in stewardship about what would make an impact metrics portal enticing enough to actually use, the Stewardship Partners team hired CAI (a Seattle-based impact evaluation and technology firm) to help us create and launch Sound Impacts as an easy-to-use, visually impactful, transparent, and robust tool. Version 1.0 has been online for over a year now and the result is truly transformational.

Today on SoundImpacts.org you can create a user profile, measure your positive environmental impact, and start inspiring others to join in the movement to not just protect, but actually improve the environmental health and resiliency of our region. We know this is a large feat, but we also know it can be done. With over 4,000 rain garden projects and 89 permeable pavement projects currently registered, we know that our region’s stewards are already keeping over 70 Million gallons of harmful polluted runoff out of Puget Sound. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. With project types including tree plantings, invasive plant removal, depaving, and green roofs recently added, this tool is ready and waiting for many of our fellow stewards across the region to contribute their projects and watch the impacts skyrocket.

As we begin to make plans for upgrading Sound Impacts to a 2.0 version, we will add impacts beyond stormwater managed to include the many co-benefits of nature-based efforts like carbon sequestration, air quality impacts, urban heat island impacts, and community health impacts.

Are you ready to start telling your stewardship story? Look to see if the projects you have worked on have been registered on Sound Impacts and add them if they aren’t there yet! We know our region has a lot of stewardship heroes out there and we want to help tell the story of their work, so we can continue to inspire more individuals and communities to engage in acts of stewardship, building a movement to help leave this place better than we found it.

Crew for Hire!

The Snoqualmie Stewardship restoration crew extended their reach recently with a collaborative effort between Capri Hospitality Management, the City of Woodinville, and a few other partners. The crew has always been for hire, but more and more businesses and new partners are approaching us to work on restoration projects, mitigation projects, and collaborative efforts outside our normal routine of riparian restoration on agricultural lands. This recognition is a great way to expand our breadth of work while maintaining our focus on providing clean water, healthy habitat, and engaged community partners.

 

This September they worked to stabilize nearly 200 feet of stream bank on the property of the new Hampton Inn and Suites in Woodinville, WA. This project offered the crew a chance to hone their bioengineering skills by stabilizing a steep and challenging bank along a tributary of Little Bear Creek, a creek historically known for salmon spawning.

As Stewardship Partners gains this new knowledge and expertise, expanding our services offered to landowners, businesses, and other organizations/agencies, the Snoqualmie Stewardship Restoration crew is available to work on slope/bank stabilization, volunteer event management, riparian habitat restoration, wetland restoration, upland forest restoration, implementing green infrastructure features such as rain gardens, and mitigation projects.

 

Additionally, the entire Stewardship Partners’ staff is available to be hired for consultation and opportunity assessments, project design, mitigation design, permitting assistance, implementation, and maintenance. Our full-time restoration crew and Director of Ecological Restoration combined have over 25 years of experience providing these services to landowners and communities and have restored over 72 acres of degraded habitat. We are excited to share our expertise, muscle, and passion with a wider audience in the years to come!

A Conversation between Sustainability Leaders

On October 3rd, Stewardship Partners hosted a riveting conversation between two leaders in environmental sustainability, Tom Alberg and Chris Bayley. Tom and Chris are long-time friends who grew up in the Seattle area, met while attending Harvard, and returned to the Northwest where they each founded organizations committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Tom Alberg is the founder of Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center, and Chris Bayley is the founder and current Board Chair of Stewardship Partners. Originally a family farm that raised beef cows, Tom and his wife Judi converted Oxbow Farm into an education and conservation focused non-profit whose earliest partner in conservation was Stewardship Partners. This early partnership helped form Stewardship Partners’ model of engagement where we empower people as caretakers of our land and water, and even led Oxbow Farm to restore over 14 acres of salmon habitat along the Snoqualmie River with the help of Stewardship Partners.

Held at the Madrona Ventures offices in downtown Seattle, community members were able to witness this exceptional conversation while enjoying sweeping views of Seattle. Moderated by Lisa Jaguzny, Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center’s recently appointed Executive Director, Tom and Chris discussed their respective paths in sustainability and why environmental stewardship is important to preserve the natural beauty and health of our Puget Sound home. Growing up in the Northwest, Tom and Chris both had a natural, if at the time subconscious, desire to protect the environment they grew up in.

“I played on the beach at Bainbridge Island and Orcas Island and did all these wonderful things that involve nature. I suppose that’s where I understand now that it’s so valuable because our grandchildren are now turning over the same rocks on Orcas and finding the same crabs that I was finding [as a child].” – Chris Bayley

 

This event was an extension of our “I’m a Stewardship Partner” campaign where we recognize community members committed to environmental stewardship practices. Tom Alberg is a shining example of a Stewardship Partner and was presented with the first ever “Groundbreaker Award for Environmental Leadership in Washington State” for his work with Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center and Stillwater Creek Vineyard as well as a continued commitment to sustainability.

Stewardship Partners would like to express a sincere thanks to Madrona Venture Group for hosting this inspiring event in their scenic offices, Novelty Hill Winery for providing delicious, Salmon-Safe wine, along with Barbie Snapp, Lisa Jaguzny, Chris Bayley, and Tom Alberg for helping make this an engaging and inspiring evening dedicated to sustainability.

You can view a video recording of the evening’s conversation on the Stewardship Partners website here.

Water Under the Bridge: And Other Salmon-Safe Urban Updates

On September 19th, eighty Puget Sound region environmental leaders and design specialists joined us for the unveiling of the Aurora Bridge Bioswale Design in Fremont. Hosted by Salmon-Safe and Milstead Coffee and sponsored by the Boeing Company, the event was a celebration of the future Aurora Bridge Bioswale and its benefits to salmon and Puget Sound.

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. This inspired environmentally innovative developer Mark Grey to join forces with Salmon-Safe to convene a multiple organizations in a partnership to treat runoff through rain gardens, including a three phase project at his Salmon-Safe certified Data 1 development project (Phase 1) adjacent to the bridge and his upcoming projects, The Watershed Building (Phase 2) and The Aurora Bridge Bioswale (Phase 3) an 850 ft2 bioswale under the bridge, along the Lake Washington Ship Canal in Fremont.

In addition to the reception at Milstead, our team also presented a Green Infrastructure workshop and tour for 40 students, teachers, and parents from the B.F. Day School. The school offers a strong curriculum for sustainability and urban ecology and was one of the first in Seattle to build a rain garden at its facility.

The Aurora Bridge Project Team is led by Salmon-Safe and includes KPFF for civil engineering and Weber Thompson for landscape design. Outreach partners include The Nature Conservancy, Stewardship Partners, Groundswell Northwest, and The 2030 District.

 

Skanska Seattle and Portland Practices Make a Zero Sediment Runoff Commitment to Salmon-Safe

Salmon-Safe welcomes Skanska to our Contractor Accreditation program. Skanska is the first construction practice in the U.S. to make a regional commitment to achieving Salmon-Safe accreditation across its Northwest operations. The Seattle and Portland offices are leading the way in a practice-based approach, applying best construction site management practices with the goal of achieving zero sediment runoff.  First piloted a decade ago in the Sammamish River watershed, Salmon-Safe’s construction management accreditation is the nation’s first independent accreditation program to recognize construction firms’ excellence in water quality protection practices.

 

 

Salmon-Safe Launches new Designer Accreditation Standards for Practice-Wide Watershed Commitment

Salmon-Safe’s new designer accreditation represents a commitment by professionals in a design practice to key principles related to urban watershed stewardship. Through thoughtful site planning, implementation of low impact design solutions and use of eco-friendly materials, site designers have the opportunity to contribute to the restoration of our urban watersheds. In this newest accreditation program from Salmon-Safe, we seek to partner with design consulting practices working on buildings, streets, parking areas, and related infrastructure with the intention of protecting downstream water quality and habitat while helping to restore urban ecological function. To learn more visit: https://salmonsafe.org/certification/designers/    OR contact Puget Sound Director, Ellen Southard, (206) 579-8645; ellen@salmonsafe.org

Welcome Eric Martin to the Stewardship Partners Team!

Erin Martin joined the Stewardship Partners team in 2018. Erin grew up among the badgers and sagebrush in southwest Idaho and moved to Washington in 2011. She completed two years in AmeriCorps with the Washington Conservation Corps, planting trees along rivers and tending trails in the Cascades. Erin has an MA in Environment and Community from Antioch Seattle, studying permaculture and community building. Through these experiences Erin has developed a passion for human ecology, restorative practices in social and environmental systems, and food justice. She enjoys hiking, being in/near water, vegan pizza, and dinking around her home garden.

New Partners in the Snoqualmie Valley

Partnership is a central characteristic of Stewardship Partners’ core values and is one of the reasons why our work has such wide-ranging impact. A great example of partnership is our recent collaboration with Aspect Consulting  to build the Carnation Elementary School Rain Garden.

In the summer of 2017, Owen Reese, a Water Resources Engineer with Aspect Consulting, contacted Stewardship Partners offering design, project management, and hands-on construction expertise for any volunteer opportunities with our 12,000 Rain Gardens program. The Carnation Elementary School Rain Garden provided the perfect project to exercise this exciting partnership.

Planting and engineering design for Carnation Elementary School Rain Garden. Design by Aspect Consulting/ Owen Reese.

Within a month of Owen’s first email, Aspect conducted a detailed soil analysis and sent us a professional garden design and planting plan, which were quickly approved by both school administrators and the school district. Aspect Consulting’s technical expertise immensely helps to complete projects quickly and efficiently. The Aspect team then returned a few months later to install this new rain garden, joining even more volunteers from the Carnation Elementary School Environmental Club. Today, the rain garden flourishes. From this successful rain garden project, we recently heard that that the King County Flood Control District agreed to fund a second rain garden at Carnation Elementary School through their Flood Reduction Fund. We’re thrilled to build this second rain garden and our partners at Aspect Consulting are already on-board to help!

Stewardship Partners and Aspect Consulting staff at the Carnation Elementary School rain garden ribbon cutting and volunteer event.

But Aspect Consulting’s professional assistance, volunteering, and pro-bono work doesn’t stop at rain gardens. Later this fall, we are teaming up with Aspect at Carnation Farms to engage their staff in an Adopt-a-Buffer – planting native trees and shrubs on one of our biggest restoration sites along the Snoqualmie River.

Inspired? You can help, too! Visit our volunteer calendar to sign up for an event that fits your schedule. Our volunteer events are a great way to be a stewardship partner and are fun for the whole family!

New Salmon-Safe Farms Map!

We are very excited to launch our new, interactive Salmon-Safe farms map! After updating the Stewardship Partners website, we realized that our old farm map was also in need of a face lift.

In an effort to better champion the dedicated farmers who have achieved Salmon-Safe certification, this new map aims to get our supporters and consumers throughout the region to connect directly with the farms. Each farm’s pin provides a brief bio/statement from the farm along with a few photos and a link to the farms website when applicable.

We hope you find this new map both insightful and useful. We invite you to learn more about these farms and find ways you can connect with them! And continue to check back as we add more farms to the map and update it with more information about farm crops.

Support Stewardship Partners While You Shop

Stewardship Partners has been selected as one of two non-profit recipients for the Bag Donation Program at Whole Foods Market.

Bring your reusable shopping bags when you shop at Whole Foods Market between October 1 and December 31, then choose to donate your 10-cent-per-bag credit at checkout. Funds raised will support Stewardship Partners programs that promote clean water and healthy watersheds throughout Puget Sound.

Participating Whole Foods Market locations include Lynnwood, Redmond, Bellevue, Kirkland, Roosevelt Square, Interbay, Westlake and Chambers Bay. For more info and store addresses, visit wfm.com.

Word from the Board: Road Trip to Hansville

“Road trip!” was the operative instruction to Stewardship Partners’ board of directors. For September’s monthly board meeting, members grabbed early morning ferries from Seattle, then drove to Hansville at the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula. There, board member Barbara Snapp welcomed all with breakfast in the beach front home that’s been in her family for three generations. Set on a high bluff with a spectacular view looking northwest over Puget Sound toward Whidbey Island, it’s obvious why the Snapp family treasures the house and the location. After a beach walk, and with sunny weather with just a hint of fall, the board opted to sit outside for the business meeting. Many thanks to Barbara for hosting. Wish that all board meeting venues were so welcoming and spectacular.

—written by Gene Carlson