Heat Wave Rocks the PNW

Our team has been dwelling heavily on the global climate crisis after the Pacific Northwest experienced a brutal heat wave at the end of June. It is hard to ignore climate change when met with temperatures well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking previous temperature records in many places. As we all recovered from the heat, stories and data started emerging about the incredible loss of life our communities and ecosystem suffered. According to the Seattle Times, British Columbia reported over 700 people suffered unexpected death during the heat wave. Wildlife was also killed off by the heat, with our beloved PNW shellfish cooking alive.

We encourage you to take a moment to read through the news stories covering those brutal days and the affect it had on our environment. While it is unpleasant to look these harsh realities in the face, it is important to recognize and understand the impacts of climate change. If we do not continue to advocate for stewardship of our environment, our communities might be looking at extreme heat waves and drought becoming the norm. Something that we are confident most of us do not want to live with.

Crushing heat wave in Pacific Northwest and Canada cooked shellfish alive by the millions (The Seattle Times)

Like in ‘Postapocalyptic Movies’: Heat Wave Killed Marine Wildlife en Masse 
(The New York Times)

Heat Wave Killed An Estimated 1 Billion Sea Creatures, And Scientists Fear Even Worse
(NPR)

Study: Northwest heat wave impossible without climate change 
(OPB)

Snoqualmie Stewardship: The Snoqualmie Valley Stewardship Handbook

The Snoqualmie Valley Stewardship Handbook is a resource for people that live and visit the Snoqualmie Valley. It provides solutions to local issues and the actions people can take to improve the Snoqualmie River Watershed. It is based on a collaborative effort and an understanding that we all can keep the Valley pristine. We appreciate the opportunity to share this tool with you and hope you find it helpful, as a steward to the land and water that sustains us.  

From its headwaters in the Cascade Mountains to the confluence of the Snohomish River and on into the Salish Sea the Snoqualmie River is the majestic provider of habitat and sustenance, as it breathes life into all it encounters. For time immemorial the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe (sdukʷalbixʷ) has lived and cared for this river and its surrounding lands. We acknowledge this throughout this handbook and with all of our actions associated with the land and water of this area.  

Today, the ever-growing population, industry, extraction, and production wear on this once pristine river and the territory it flows through. Our first step in rectifying this is to recognize the impacts and threats to healthy ecosystems, salmon, orca, and people. The salmon need a clean and healthy river to survive. Orca need healthy salmon to survive, and we need both healthy salmon and orca to survive. It’s going to take hard work, but we at Stewardship Partners are up for the challenge, and we hope you are too, and that this Handbook provides you the knowledge and tools to take action. 

Just like the river making its way to the sea, we are on a journey to heal the river and its riparian habitat in a way that’s conducive to all. All efforts to recover the Snoqualmie will require collaboration, patience and hard work but by working together, we can achieve a much more sustainable environment for this current generation as well as for generations to come. Let’s do this. For the River. For the Orca. For the salmon. For the people.  

The Snoqualmie Valley Stewardship Handbook was made possible by Bullitt Foundation, King County, Patagonia, and a host of volunteers.   

Award-winning Gamble Sands is a remarkable golf course resort with particular attention to land and water stewardship

In the heart of North Central Washington lies the award-winning Gamble Sands golf resort. This spectacular golf getaway offers a links style experience while maintaining particular attention to land and water stewardship. A sophisticated blend of great golf and environmentally conscious design is what  I found most remarkable.

A beautifully designed golf course weaved into the natural wild surroundings, Gamble Sands has established itself as the premier golf resort and destination in Washington State. The Gebbers family owns the resort and are well-known farmers and apple orchardists in the area, with operations based in Brewster.  The property has two golf courses, lodging, pro shop, and a charming rustic clubhouse, Danny Boy Bar and Grill.

Gamble Sands was designed by award-winning golf course architect David McKlay Kidd who is a  Salmon-Safe Golf Course certification assessment team member. His thoughtful golf course design and environmental innovation stand out at Gamble Sands, making this course an excellent candidate for Salmon-Safe certification.  The golf course was built on a strip of sand amongst the rock outcroppings and required minimal earth movement while preserving much of the shrub-steppe habitat. The site abounds with arrowleaf balsamroot, sagebrush, Mule deer, Osprey, and hundreds of wildlife species that use this critical habitat.

I was lucky enough to spend a morning touring with Josh Truan, Golf Course Superintendent, and his nine-month-old dog Penny. We played the new 14-hole par 3 Quick Sands course together while learning about his low-input management techniques. It became apparent that Truan has a deep connection to the course, his staff, and the environment. He explained the turfs treatment, which is only fertilized twice a year with no glyphosate to ensure its health and longevity.

The two golf courses were seeded using fine fescue grass, which provides perfect fairways and greens that are smooth, consistent, and fast.  Fescue grass is environmentally friendly, grows slower, and in turn requires less mowing and water use.  There are only four other courses in the country with all fescue grass, furthering the unique experience of playing Gamble Sands.

The course staff make their bunker and maintenance sand on-site using a screener, eliminating the need to import sand, further reducing their carbon footprint.  The course is watered using a state-of-the-art computer system and moisture sensors that inform Truan and the management team if certain areas need watering adjustments.  The course uses less than six-tenths of an inch of water every three days during summer months.

The comfortably chic lodging is also thoughtfully hidden below a bluff with an 18-hole putting course outside the backdoor of your spacious room.  The putting course backdrop boasts a breathtaking view of snowcapped Cascade mountains with the mighty Columbia River meandering through a vast gorge below.

Gamble Sands is a clever golf course that cares for the land and offers golfers and non-golfers a special place to relax and enjoy life.  Wine tastings, nature walks, poolside relaxation, and birdwatching are amongst the options for those who prefer not to golf. The staff at the resort are friendly and attentive to all your needs.  This golf resort should serve as an inspiration for future courses in the country.  It is truly a first-class experience that is loads of fun and creates lasting memories for anyone lucky enough to have come here.

Written by David Burger, Executive Director at Stewardship Partners

Support Clean Water & Healthy Habitat for Generations to Come!

Today is not just any regular Tuesday, today is GiveBIG! 
GiveBIG will be a two-day online giving event from May 4-5th. 
Our goal is to raise $5,000 for our programs!

 Gifts of ANY size have an impact on our work!

Donate $25  = buy ten trees for a volunteer to plant at one of our restoration sites
Donate $100 = provide scholarship funds for a local family farm for Salmon-Safe certification
Donate $250 =  fund the planting of a rain garden at a local school or park

Today, you can take a stand for a healthy Puget Sound environment. Together we can achieve clean water, sustainable agriculture, thriving salmon and orca populations, and healthy communities, throughout our region.

Reflections on a Collaborative Funder Relationship with The Russell Family Foundation 

In 2002 Stewardship Partners was barely 3 years old, but that year marked the beginning of a critical partnership that has brought us to where we are today. Our collaboration with The Russell Family Foundation (TRFF) began with a grant. In financial terms alone, this partnership has been foundational, totaling over $1 Million granted since 2002. But this partnership does not begin and end with the money. The collaborative problem solving and network building that we have done together has been equally important in creating a movement of community-focused stewardship across the Puget Sound region. The close of 2020 seemed like a good time to indulge in hindsight, so I sat down virtually with Holly Powers, Senior Program Officer at TRFF to pause and reflect on our collective history.

Rather than transcribe our entire, far-reaching conversation, I’ve decided to pull together observations from both the grant-maker and grantee perspectives that made this a successful relationship.

As a grant-maker, TRFF is very clear in their understanding that they only succeed when their partners succeed. I think the approach is exemplified by what Holly described as trying to be the funder who gets a call when things don’t go as planned, rather than the funder you try to avoid. As a grantee, that approach means that we are trusted to lead the work, understand the challenges, and respond effectively without being penalized for innovating or changing course when needed. Even the most well-planned projects encounter unexpected challenges. Knowing that a funder wants to know about those challenges and might help us collaboratively, means that challenges are opportunities to do better rather than failures of foresight. Taking this approach to the next level, when COVID -19 changed everything for everyone, TRFF didn’t wait for their grantees to tell them what they needed. Instead, they asked us what had changed and what did we need to weather the storm. Providing additional financial support and peer-to-peer connections with other grantees has helped many organizations continue our collective work in the face of a challenging time.

Another significant aspect of TRFF’s approach is the value they place on connecting grantees to each other. Many of our most essential partnerships came about because of TRFF’s active efforts to connect their grantees. Examples include the Habitat for Humanity homes near Tacoma that we certified Salmon-Safe and the thought-leader convening TRFF started with Sightline Institute that gave rise to our Green Infrastructure Summit of the Salish Sea. Connections like these make everything we do more impactful and effective.

As a grantee, it’s always humbling and lovely to hear from a funder why they support your work, and as partners in and supporters of our work, I want to share some of Holly’s thoughts on Stewardship Partners. I think my favorite thing was hearing that walking into the Stewardship Partners office has always felt like being invited into a living room for a cup of coffee and a conversation. That we have created a culture and a welcoming sense of community with partners feels like a significant accomplishment and one that doesn’t fit in any grant reporting metrics. TRFF also sees us as we see ourselves as a ‘small but mighty’ organization able to catalyze, respond quickly, and nimbly to emerging issues and opportunities, but not clinging to ownership at the expense of the idea. Yet, for anything involving stormwater and green infrastructure, we act as a hub, keeping the wheel rolling forward. The 12,000 Rain Garden Campaign for Puget Sound is one example. SP coordinated rain garden resource hubs and trainings across 12 counties, leading to the regional multi-sector City Habitats network and the annual Green Infrastructure Summit of the Salish Sea. Holly also described Stewardship Partners as a ‘first to listen’ partner. From our first projects, we have acknowledged our partners on the land and communities as the work leaders. We have always understood that we need to listen to them to make anything happen and move anything forward. Having that part of our values identified so clearly is so validating. But then again, it makes sense. It takes one to know one, and TRFF and Stewardship Partners both know that we only succeed when our partners succeed

I want to close by thanking Holly Powers, Fabiola Greenwalt, Linsey Sauer, Britta Franscesconi, Kathleen Simpson, and past team members Richard Woo and Scott Miller, as well as the Russell Family and the TRFF board of directors. It is an honor to partner with you all.

Written by Aaron Clark

Photo courtesy of TRFF

Tire Chemical Kills Coho Salmon

Recent research by our partners at the University of Washington and Washington State University has identified a specific chemical in tire rubber that is killing countless Coho salmon right before they spawn in streams across the region. Other species of salmon are likely affected to varying degrees. The chemical 6PPD appears to be universally used in all tires currently made. Unfortunately, we don’t have any Salmon-Safe certified tires to offer yet (though we are actively supporting that pursuit). In the meantime, the best thing we can do is to keep building rain gardens and trying to get more of them installed wherever roadway runoff gets into salmon streams (which in our region is almost anywhere there are roads and parking lots). 

To help car tires — and maybe salmon runs — last longer:

  • Drive less. Fewer miles driven equals less tire dust. Consider if you can walk, bike or bus to your destination instead of driving.
  • Keep tires properly inflated and maintained.
  • Drive less aggressively: Don’t “lay rubber” when accelerating or braking.
  • Drive small. Small cars shed about half as much tire dust per mile as large cars, according to European studies. Trucks shed several times more.

To find out more about this vital cutting edge research here is the original research article. Media coverage of this research has been done by The Seattle TimesThe New York TimesMotor TrendNW Public Broadcasting and more.

Green Infrastructure Summit of the Salish Sea

Building off of the 2020 Green Infrastructure Summit and events since, it is more apparent than ever that we can’t merely fix and put back the stuff that breaks (due to a pandemic, racial inequity, economic downturn, etc.). Instead, we need better stuff. So this year, the theme of the summit is “Evolving Green Infrastructure: adapting systems for better outcomes.” 

Up-to-date info can be found on the summit webpage. There are many details still in the offing, but below is what we know:

  •  This summit will be held virtually over the mornings of March 25th and 26th, 2021 (mark your calendars).
  • After five years of calling this event the “Puget Sound Green Infrastructure Summit” we are pleased to announce that we are renaming it the “Green Infrastructure Summit of the Salish Sea.”  This re-naming is in recognition and honor of the original Indigenous inhabitants and stewards of this land and water, the Coast Salish Peoples, who have lived in the Salish Sea basin, throughout the San Juan Islands and the North Cascades watershed, since time immemorial. This re-naming also underscores our continued commitment to identify and implement solutions that protect and enhance the Salish Sea basin, through collaboration, best practices, racial equity, and community engagement. 
  • If you have a topic or story that you would like to share, please fill out this simple online abstract submission form. Your submission does not need to include details. Many of the best summit presentations started as a simple sentence. But the deadline for submissions is January 26th (extended), so don’t delay!
  • This event will give us all a chance to connect across geographies and sectors, discuss and learn about topics as far reaching as: leadership in Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties; green infrastructure across the urban-rural continuum; whole watershed systems; storytelling; maintenance; stimulus spending; climate resilience; tires; silos; racial equity; the WA environmental justice task force; youth leadership; career pathways; the state of the science and what works and what doesn’t. 
  • Financial sponsors make this event possible. If your organization would like to learn more, please email Aaron Clark.

Looking Back on Our 2020 Accomplishments

As a generous supporter of Stewardship Partners, you are the reason we continue to step up and fill the gap of providing environmental solutions for communities and individuals to be great stewards of this beautiful place we call home. While this year continues to be challenging, we are resilient. Thanks to you, we persist in our efforts to work for the water and land that sustain us all.

While our workplaces shifted, Stewardship Partners’ hard-working staff forged ahead. The Snoqualmie Stewardship Program restored two acres of habitat by planting over 6,000 plants at multiple farms. We also completed a new Snoqualmie Valley Stewardship Handbook, a great resource for landowners.

The 5th Annual Green Infrastructure Summit adapted to a global pandemic and brought forward nine virtual panel discussions over four weeks and engaged a bigger and broader audience than ever. We covered big ideas and impacts that go way beyond water alone. Topics included incentives, education, communication, trees, authentic community engagement, racial equity in green infrastructure, and we shined a spotlight on innovative leadership in the south Puget Sound. We also continued to shift conversations regionally on green infrastructure incentives, bringing more support for environmental improvement to underserved and overburdened communities, leading the way with our own equitable incentive programs.

We were able to create protocols for Salmon-Safe virtual assessments of farms, vineyards, and golf courses. Several properties joined the Salmon-Safe network this year, furthering the label’s value and consumer demand for sustainable products and management.

This year, we weren’t able to gather at a community farm table for Feast on the Farm, but the urgency of sustainability is clearer than ever before. Along with sustainability, the need for community has never been greater. The Feast’s pivot to a community-building at-home experience wouldn’t have been possible without generous volunteers, partners, supporters, sponsors, farmers, and chefs. Feast on the Farm at home raised $55,400, which will directly support our conservation and restoration initiatives in Puget Sound!

We are thinking of you and how you might be impacted by this global crisis and if we can support you in your own stewardship or just want to connect, please reach out to us. Stewardship Partners would not be the same without you. Thank you for being loyal to our organization, loving the land, our communities, and ultimately creating a story of growth. By staying present, slowing down, and spending time alone or with family, we will grow now more than ever. And if you are doing annual giving this year, please consider Stewardship Partners.

Fall is Fun at Salmon-Safe Farms

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love—that makes life and nature harmonize.” -George Eliot

Fall is a beautiful time of year filled with chilly mornings, crisp leaves and spooky Jack-O-Lanterns lit up on the front porch. As with everything else, this fall season looks a little different as the world has changed around us. One tradition that remains almost the same is visiting your local pumpkin patch or corn maze. Many of our Salmon-Safe farms offer fall activities that provide an opportunity to get the family out to do something fun, while being in fresh open air with plenty of room for social distancing. So if you are feeling cooped up and ready to get in the fall spirit, consider visiting one of our local farms and buying a Salmon-Safe pumpkin or other goodies! 

Click Here for a map of Salmon-Safe farms
Be sure to visit the farm’s website to confirm they are open and review their Covid-19 policies. Happy fall everyone!

Pumpkins at Jubilee Farm, Carnation, Washington

Salmon in the City Coming to a Screen Near You!

Join Salmon-Safe on October 29th for Salmon in the City 2020 – Registration is live!  This free, virtual event will highlight innovations in ecologically sustainable urban design and development that protect water quality and our urban watershed. NOAA Fisheries will present groundbreaking research regarding the impacts of urban stormwater on salmon and watersheds. The event will feature pioneering design collaborations bridging architecture and ecology as well as case studies of projects incorporating Salmon-Safe stormwater design principles. Register Today