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

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

Feast 2020 Looked a Little Different

Despite the challenges of 2020, we were able to keep the annual tradition of Feast on the Farm alive from the comfort of our own homes. The pivot of our yearly event to a virtual experience wouldn’t have been possible without our supporters, sponsors, farmers, and chefs. Feast on the Farm at home raised $55,400, which will directly support the conservation and restoration initiatives in Puget Sound! While this is a third of what we typically raise at Feast on the Farm, we are grateful for the support and commitment to stewarding our water and land during these difficult times. If you would still like to donate to our organization, click here. A huge thank you to our sponsors, farmers, and chefs, and most importantly, our supporters. You can see all the fun (and amazing food) that was had by looking up #feasthomedelivery2020 on Instagram or Facebook!

“While we were missing the farm, the feast certainly did not disappoint. Thank you Stewardship Partners and Chefs Ethan Stowell, Joe Ianelli, and Zoi Antonitsas for your gourmet farm to table CSA box. Our bellies are full and our hearts are thankful for learning more on how we can become better caretakers of our Pacific Northwest land and the water that sustains us.”  -Cassie and Jeremey Johnson

Tumwater Golf Course is Salmon-Safe Certified

On October 15th, 2019 Stewardship Partners presented the City of Tumwater with the official Salmon-Safe certification of Tumwater Valley Golf Club. Tumwater Valley Golf Club is a leader in sustainability that minimizes its environmental impacts. The fact that Tumwater Valley Golf Club is the first Salmon-Safe Certified public golf course in Washington state is a testament to this commitment. The Salmon-Safe designation is the result of a year-long, comprehensive third-party evaluation of the golf course’s land and water management practices.

“The Tumwater Valley Golf Course provides many benefits to our residents, and enhancing salmon habitat is another opportunity we’re excited to undertake,” said Pete Kmet, City of Tumwater Mayor. “We’re proud to have earned a Salmon-Safe Certification and look forward to further enhancing our operations to benefit salmon.”

The Tumwater Valley Golf Club implements many practices in accordance with Salmon-Safe standards, particularly related to water use, landscape maintenance, and habitat preservation and restoration. The golf course uses approximately 43 million gallons of reclaimed wastewater from the Budd Inlet Treatment Plant to irrigate the course. Multiple habitat restoration projects have been implemented since 1993 along the Deschutes River with additional projects planned. Tumwater exemplifies Salmon-Safe’s philosophy of encouraging low-impact practices that go beyond environmental regulations and committing to further reducing environmental impact over time.

Stewardship Partners looks forward to working collaboratively with The City of Tumwater to implement the requirements of Salmon-Safe at the golf course over the coming years. We are also thrilled about the opportunity to showcase the Salmon-Safe certification to visitors of the course and illustrate to them how they can take actions to protect our land and water and our iconic salmon.

Expanding our Stormwater Management Throughout the Snoqualmie Valley

We all need clean water to survive. We all should know this by now. The salmon we so cherish need clean water to survive as well. We all should know this by now. Our beloved orcas that symbolize our region need clean water and salmon to survive. We should all know this by now. Knowing is the first step, and now is the time to act to ensure that our region has clean water for the orcas, for the salmon and for us for generations to come. For nearly 20 years the Snoqualmie Stewardship program has focused on riparian habitat restoration along the Snoqualmie River and its tributaries. We’ve made a lot of great progress in that regard. As we continue this riparian restoration work, we are also focusing on expanding our efforts, not only by planting trees along the river, but by educating and engaging the public in green stormwater management efforts.

Starting with one small rain garden installation at Carnation Elementary School a few years ago, thanks to King County Flood Control Districts Flood Reduction Fund, we are now leading an effort to educate and connect community members, businesses and organizations in green infrastructure implementation. We are doing this collaboratively as we have all along with partners such as Nature Vision, The Snoqualmie Tribe, Aspect Consulting, King County, the City of Carnation, Full Circle Farm and Orenda Winery. Soon Stewardship Partners will sponsor workshops in Carnation that include educational talks and tools for green stormwater infrastructure implementation including cistern giveaways! We will also be installing a bioswale at Full Circle Farm to treat stormwater and production runoff before it reaches Griffin Creek!           

Carnation Elementary School Rain Garden Installation
Carnation Elementary School Rain Garden Installation

As we quickly approach the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day we urge folks to take action alongside Stewardship Partners and all our friends as we continue to pave the way for innovative restoration of the land and water that sustain us. If your group, school, business or church would like to get involved with a one of our on the ground projects please contact Chris LaPointe at cl@stewardshippartners.org or sign up on the volunteer calendar on our website.      

Tickets are On Sale for the 5th Annual Puget Sound Green Infrastructure Summit!

It’s hard to believe that we created the first ever Puget Sound Green Infrastructure Summit 5 whole years ago this month! It seems like yesterday and yet an awful lot has happened in those 5 years. This year we’re proud to again bring together a community of green infrastructure thought leaders from the .com, .org, .gov, and .edu sectors and from every corner of Puget Sound, this time in Tacoma on March 20th, 2020! It’s inspiring and humbling to hear from partners and attendees who credit the summit with catalyzing new projects, partnerships, and strategies to address some of the region’s most pressing and complex problems. Never ones to get stuck in a rut, the green infrastructure summit always touches on a lot more than the stormwater that green infrastructure is typically built to address. Like a rain garden, the reason to attend the summit goes way past one single problem or solution.

Scenes from the inspirational 2019 Summit

At this year’s summit, attendees will hear from professors, youth leaders, agency officials, nonprofits and businesses about the vast array of benefits that green infrastructure can provide. This year’s theme is “Growing green infrastructure: Impacts and Intersectionalities When Scaling Up.” We hope you can join us! Purchase your ticket here.

Stewardship Partners’ 2019 Highlights

Supporters are central to the success of Stewardship Partners and are one of the main reasons why our programs had such a profound positive impact throughout our region this year. By supporting Stewardship Partners, you continue to support a healthy Puget Sound environment.

Your support this year allowed us to:

  • Plant 15,000 native trees and shrubs
  • Restore 2.4 river miles
  • Restore 10.5 acres of vital riparian habitat
  • Engage volunteers in over 2,800 hours of work
  • Grow our Salmon-Safe program to over 100 farms and vineyards
  • Grow our coalition of over 100 green infrastructure partners
  • Host the 2019 Green Infrastructure Summit and begin planning for the 2020 Summit, to be located outside of King County for the first time
  • Provide resources and financial incentives for green infrastructure ($100,000 of incentives awarded to date)
  • Engage in the Seattle Waterfront Project alongside new partners
  • Host the 10th Annual Feast on the Farm, raising over $151,000 in direct support of conservation and restoration initiatives in Puget Sound

THANK YOU FOR BEING A STEWARDSHIP PARTNER!