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.

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.

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!

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

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.