Tis the Season…for Planting

With planting season just around the corner, we are usually gearing up to mobilize hundreds of volunteers to plant thousands of different native trees and shrubs throughout the Snoqualmie Valley. This year is a little different as we are still dealing with the effects of a global pandemic. Since we still can’t gather in large groups, we would like to offer some ideas on what native trees and shrubs you can plant on your property. Here are a few recommendations from our Snoqualmie Stewardship staff regarding some of our favorite PNW plants we use in our restoration projects that you can use at home! Happy planting!

Crew Member Ashley’s recommendation: Western Red Cedar (Thuja Plicata):

Thuja Plicata is actually from the Cypress Family of the genus Arborvitae, which translates to “tree of life.”

We love to plant western red cedars because they are a signature PNW tree and are highly versatile. They can be planted in groves or singly, as well as in wetland and upland areas. The wood is resistant to decay, which made it the most valued tree to the Native Peoples. The wood was used for building structures, totem poles, canoes, tools, the branches for ropes, and bark for weaving. The trees are easily identifiable by their reddish-grey fibrous bark, oriented in vertical strips, with flat, scale like leaves resembling plaited braids.

Advantages for the garden:
The leaves are evergreen, giving your garden color all year, without dropping needles or leaves. The cones come in small fragrant clusters resembling rosettes. The bark and leaves have a famous cedar scent as well. They provide seeds and habitat for birds, small mammals enjoy the cavities of the bark, elk and deer enjoy browsing the trunk and branches. Just make sure you have plenty of room if you plant a Western red Cedar as they grow quite large.

Western Red Cedar

Director of Ecological Restoration Chris’ recommendation: Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum
 
I love this native plant and its brilliant red/pink flowers. I’m not the only one who loves them. Pollinators are highly attracted to them, and hummingbirds fancy them as well. They’re used in a lot of our riparian restoration sites along the Snoqualmie River and its tributaries. These are perfect areas for them as they thrive in disturbed sites, open spaces, and rocky slopes. I plan on planting some around my garden at home! Many Coastal Salish groups have traditionally used these plants as their berries are edible, but they lack flavor. What they lack in taste they make up in garden aesthetics when in bloom!

Written by the Snoqualmie Stewardship Staff

Red Flowering Currant

We’re Hiring!

We are hiring for the crewmember position!

Snoqualmie Stewardship Habitat Restoration Crew Member

Position Description: This temporary part-full time position (average 40 hrs. /wk.) with Stewardship Partners; a Seattle based non-profit conservation organization. Work is focused in the Snoqualmie Valley, along the Snoqualmie River and its tributaries with agricultural landowners. Interns assist in implementing habitat restoration project Best Management Practices (BMPs) which may include riparian planting, wetland enhancement, erosion control, livestock fencing, volunteer event management and partner/landowner relations. Crew Members also help with our annual Feast on the Farm fundraiser.

Position is open until filled.

Interested parties can learn more here or contact Chris LaPointe at cl@stewardshippartners.org.    

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.

Notes from the Field: 2020

If anything, 2020 has provided us with the opportunity to hone our skills in adaptive management on many levels including that of our Snoqualmie Stewardship restoration crew. In mid-March the crew was put on furlough due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Right smack dab in the middle of planting season our riparian habitat restoration efforts were put on hold as well. Multiple volunteer events and planting days were cancelled or postponed, and our restoration efforts were hanging in limbo as were our crew members. The furlough allowed them a chance to reflect on life, consider different career trajectories, get involved with social issues, and really think about what the future holds. 

Kirby Johnson

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Kirby Johnson for his dedication and unwavering work ethic while he served on the crew for several years and in the office. We will miss workhorse mentality, but we are happy for what the future holds for him.

Geoff Bough

Geoff Bough, former Habitat Restoration Project Manager, recently made a career change after spending more than 8 years on the Snoqualmie Stewardship Restoration Crew. We will miss Geoff’s dedication and his knowledge and familiarity of the Snoqualmie Valley as a Carnation resident.

Erin Martin

Congratulations to Erin Martin on her new appointment of “Interim Crew Lead.” Erin is already excelling in her new role as the crew got back to the field work in September. We are looking forward to watching her continue to take the lead on riparian restoration and green infrastructure implementation in the Snoqualmie Valley.  

Ashley Aversa

We would like to welcome Ashley Aversa aboard on the restoration crew. Ashley comes to us via New Jersey with a great background in environmental restoration, watershed health monitoring, education and green infrastructure. No stranger to the field, she is fitting in well as she learns the ropes and restoration sites in the Valley.

Although this has been a year of change, adaptation and flexibility, the Snoqualmie Stewardship crew managed to install approximately 5,000 native trees and shrubs. That’s an amazing feat given the circumstances. This resilience is a testament to our hard work as a solutions-oriented organization with programs that allow the flexibility and wherewithal to endure even a global pandemic.   

Good Stewardship at your Home Office

These days many companies have office environmental policies around recycling, disposable water bottles, indoor air quality, and commuter policies. Now that many of us are working from home, how can we keep our eco-wits about us and stay committed to reducing our environmental footprint, even while keeping our families healthy and safe?

Of course, the lack of commute is a major positive impact on carbon emissions, as millions of Americans are now telecommuting. With changing attitudes, technology adoption, and shifting company policies, this is likely to be a lasting legacy from the pandemic. Fewer daily commuters result in fewer emissions, less traffic congestion, and potentially more mixed-use transportation opportunities (bicycles, public transit, etc.).

As we adjust to telework during the age of Covid, it is important to consider best practices for cleaning and disinfecting. While many of us reach for the most potent chemicals we could find to wipe down surfaces, phones, and common touchpoints around the home; there are ways to manage proper cleaning and disinfection without compromising our health. Many of these products could be extremely hazardous, causing asthma and other respiratory weakness, or are known to be carcinogenic. Fortunately, you don’t have to poison your family with chemicals to keep them safe from the Coronavirus.

For routine cleaning (including handwashing), it is recommended to look for products that contain a credible third-party eco-label such as GreenSeal, EPA Safer Choice, or Eco Logo. Disinfectants, however, are actually regulated as a pesticide by the EPA and therefore are not permitted to use these ecolabels. However, the list of “EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products for Use Against Novel Coronavirus (List N)” contains many ‘least toxic’ choices.

Avoid bleach and ammonia-based products, they are unnecessary and extremely toxic to human health and the environment. Instead, look for Hydrogen Peroxide-based, Ethyl Alcohol-based, or Thymol-based disinfectants or those that contain the active ingredients Citric acid, L-lactic acid, or Caprylic acid (octanoic acid). For further advice, see the Disinfectant guides put by our friends at GreenSeal as well as the Environmental Working Group. Of course, always follow the cleaning recommendations available from the Center for Disease Control.

As we set up our home office, we can also start thinking about energy conservation—time to replace those old light bulbs with LEDs, reducing energy consumption by 70%. Make sure your computer is set to sleep mode after 15 minutes, unplug appliances when not in use, keep your HVAC system maintained and operating efficiently, and ensure your windows and doors are well sealed. One of the biggest impacts you could have regarding energy consumption is to make sure you are purchasing the Solar Choice or Green Power options from  Puget Sound Energy (for just pennies more per KwH).

Regarding minimizing waste, carefully consider what you could do to reduce, reuse, or recycle. Purchase used or repurposed equipment and furniture, minimize or even eliminate your use of single-use plastic, ensure your compostable food scraps make it to your Green Bin, and buy products from local vendors over the convenience of an online click. And a personal pet peeve of mine, please replace your Keurig or other single-use coffee pod machine with a less disposable option as these pods are becoming a surprisingly large component of the waste stream.

Finally, as the rainy season arrives in Western Washington, it is time to think about polluted runoff from our driveways, roofs, and pavement flowing into the storm drains or directly to streams and the Puget Sound. Now would be a perfect time to find out where your downspouts direct runoff and consider installing a rain garden or cistern to help rainwater infiltrate into the ground instead of polluting local waterways. Of course, Stewardship Partners’ 12,000 Rain Gardens Program is a resource to help you do this.

This “great pause” provides us a tremendous opportunity to think about our values, our actions, our community, and the kind of world we want to create. Together let’s be partners in stewarding a better future.

Written by Lawrence Nussbaum, former Program Director and early leader of Stewardship Partners who pioneered the Salmon-Safe program in Washington State. He currently works as a Senior Sustainability Consultant for the California-based consulting firm, Environmental Innovations, providing Green Business services to government and corporate clients. More information about Lawrence could be found at www.sustainable-source.com.

King County Employees Can Now Be Stewardship Partners!

We are thrilled to announce that Stewardship Partners has been accepted into the King County Employee Giving Program’s 2020 cycle, including the Annual Giving Drive (October 5 to November 20) and volunteer opportunities! Our unique four digit code is #Ø825.

If you work for King County, please consider making Stewardship Partners the recipient of your employee giving. Your support helps us strengthen partnerships with property owners working to improve regional water quality, restore fish and wildlife habitat, protect wetlands and open space, and encourage green infrastructure within our local built environment.

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