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!

Job Opening: Program Specialist

Stewardship Partners is seeking a Program Specialist with experience with event production,  communication/marketing and grant writing, reporting and research. This position requires strong organizational skills, a keen eye for detail and the ability to work simultaneously on a variety of events and projects. This is a unique opportunity to direct your energy and talents towards a well-established organization with a solid reputation for improving quality of life for all inhabitants, human and wild, in the Puget Sound region.

Click here for full job description.

Sound Impacts 2.0 Request for Qualifications

Stewardship Partners has opened up a Request for Qualifications for a project contractor for Sound Impacts 2.0. The goal of this contract would be to implement new features and functionality into the existing tool. This update to the tool has a contract budget of $70,000 ($15k reserve for potential partner contracts e.g. Earth Economics). RFQ submissions will be considered on an ongoing basis with a target selection date in January of 2020.

To view the full Sound Impacts 2.0 Request for Qualifications click here.
To view the current Sound Impacts portal click here.

To respond to this RFQ, please submit via email to EV@StewardshipPartners.org, a short cover letter, not to exceed 2 pages, that addresses the following:

• How does your firm meet the required and desired qualifications. Include links to examples or work samples?
• Which staff/team members would work on which elements of the project and who would be our primary point of contact? Provide links to team member bios or profiles if available.
• Provide 3 references for past clients for whom you have created a web-based portal who way may contact.

Make Your End of Year Gift

This season, Patagonia Action Works is matching donations made to their environmental grantees! Now through December 31st, donations made through their site will receive a dollar-for-dollar match! Please help us take advantage of this amazing opportunity by making your year-end gift to Stewardship Partners through Patagonia Action Works! Thank you Patagonia!

You can also give directly through our website. Only together can we fight for clean water, healthy salmon and wildlife habitats, sustainable agriculture, healthy communities, and overall stewardship of our shared environment.

Remembering a Friend of the Salmon – Bill Ruckelshaus

Bill and Governor Gregoire visiting Stewardship Partners rain gardens in Burien (2012)

On behalf of the staff and Board of Stewardship Partners, I am sad to announce the passing today of Bill Ruckelshaus. There are only a few people in the world that worked as hard to recover salmon in our watersheds across the region. The salmon have lost one of their best friends.

Bill had the ability to work with anyone including tribes, businesses, government, farmers and non-profits with integrity and honesty making him a great American hero for the natural environment. His priority was putting the environment before politics or party.

Bill was the first director of the EPA, led the U.S./Canada salmon negotiations, was the chair of Shared Strategy, the first chair of Puget Sound Partnership, and held so many other leadership roles. Bill received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2015.

We went fishing together several years ago in the San Juan Islands and I remember Bill telling all of us on the boat that this would probably be one of the last times he goes fishing. Turns out it was, and I feel lucky to have shared that time with him. Bill had many accomplishments and was taller than most but was never intimidating. He was a warm down-to earth person that was willing to listen and give his time, talent and wisdom to what he called “doing the right thing for the fish.”

Bill has been a longtime friend and supporter of Stewardship Partners. We will miss him dearly and our thoughts go out to his family.

Written by David Burger – Stewardship Partners Executive Director

Action is Needed Now

written by David Burger

“Right here, right now!”

Teen environmental hero Greta Thunberg is using the power of words like these to inspire millions of others young and old to step up efforts to rein in our carbon emissions and protect life as we know it on the planet. Thunberg, a 16-year-old activist from Sweden who recently traveled from home to New York via train and boat (given the climate impacts of flying) to address the United Nations on the responsibility of our current leaders to force positive action on cleaning up our act, the frontrunner for the Noble Peace Prize. She has been able to create a movement of younger people standing up for their future and demanding change to regulate the global climate. 

The science is clear yet unfortunately, our air isn’t. It’s hard to watch the images of the Amazon forest burning at such an alarming rate or accept that record-high temperatures are occurring all over Alaska. 

One impact of this warming is further trouble for our already endangered salmon runs. The water is simply too hot for salmon to survive let alone spawn and reproduce. We are faced with the reality that we have one chance to act now and be a part of the solution. 

I’m reminded by my children that it’s normal to feel hopeless about our future but we shouldn’t give up. Younger generations are taking action and sparking change in their communities. Let’s embrace their leadership by supporting them and not just sit back and wait.

In addition to supporting Stewardship Partners, here are some simple actions we can all do:  Plant Trees — Vote! —- Talk about it!  — Climate-Friendly Plant Based Diet! — Buy less stuff!

Finnriver Farm & Cidery: Fermenting a vision of good land, renewed rural community and a vibrant food culture

Why did Finnriver decide to become Salmon-Safe certified?

Photo credit: James Curtis

We were approached by the Salmon-Safe folks about certification and it resonated with our core values of care for the land and community. We had come from a background in environmental education and already felt a strong commitment to ensure that we were striving to reduce negative impacts and possibly repair the ecosystem we were dwelling and farming within. We were inspired early in our journey by the Aldo Leopold land ethic about preserving the beauty and integrity of “the biotic community” and by Wendell Berry’s teachings about how agriculture connects us to landscape and community. So, we kept asking ourselves what steps we could take to preserve and grow the beauty and integrity here.

It felt very significant to us that a salmon-bearing stream runs through our farm— Chimacum Creek. We got involved in upkeep of the restoration [started by the previous property owners and various partners], and we watched over the years as the re-meandering and reforestation of that section of the stream went from a weedy ditch to a lush (albeit narrow) habitat for wildlife and forested, shady haven for salmon.

We knew that there were historic tensions around the interaction of ag land and salmon habitat, and we wanted to try to role model a project that allowed both to recover and thrive.

How does the program align with the priorities and goals of Finnriver?

Our goal in farming is to increase the health of our soils, add biodiversity to the farm and protect the watershed. These goals align with Salmon-Safe and allow us to celebrate the aspiration for the co-existence of healthy streams and salmon with vibrant farms. We know this will always be a quest and not an achievement— that ecosystems are very complex and interconnected, and that human impacts are problematic, no matter how benevolent the intention. We want to keep learning and striving for a better model.

What does the Salmon-Safe label mean to your consumers?

The label provides a form of activism when purchasing cider and organic produce from our farm. It tells them that we are taking into account the larger watershed issues and impacts that go along with farming in proximity to salmon-bearing waterways. We hope that our customers continue to make the connections between their purchases and their impact on the ecosystems that sustain us!

Photo credit: Jen Lee Light

What’s the most valuable aspect you see in the Salmon-Safe program?

It illuminates and holds us accountable to the intricacies and complexities of the relationship between farming and the ecological health of our surroundings.

Look for Finnriver products in your local stores and learn more about their work by visiting them for a tour and cider talk:
www.finnriver.com

Demand for Green Infrastructure Grants Grows

All around Puget Sound and the nation, green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) is being touted as a multi-benefit solution to stormwater pollution, sewer overflows, and flooding. In an area like ours that often has enough rainy days to test the resolve of even the most loyal Seattleites, GSI has the power to manage our stormwater in ways that mimic the natural environment, while providing communities with health, social, and economic benefits. Now more than ever, we are seeing a pattern of landowners looking to help protect our Puget Sound and manage stormwater on their property through installations of rain gardens, cisterns, green roofs, and more. While these projects do come with huge benefits, unfortunately they do not come cost free. There are many great incentive programs for installing GSI, such as RainWise Rebates, but cost continues to be one of the biggest barriers landowners face. Stewardship Partners has worked hard to tackle this issue head on, by creating incentive programs that work with the successful RainWise program and also provide assistance to landowners not eligible for RainWise Rebates or other programs. Through our GSI Mini Grants and RainWise Access Grants, we strive to provide a necessary resource when even relatively small out of pocket costs for GSI projects could pose a barrier to landowners otherwise ready and excited to install GSI on their property.

Cisterns outside of Young’s Restaurant in the South Delridge neighborhood

We developed these tools through active discussion with community members and community-based organizations like ECOSS, and after many revisions of Access and GSI Mini Grants, we have delivered two very successful incentive programs to the community. A huge part of what we define as “successful” is having as easy and streamlined a process as possible for the landowner or project contractor to apply for and receive grant funding. We are happy to report that in the last few years we have seen rising demand for Access and GSI Mini Grants, with funding flying out the door! So much so, that after helping to fund 65 GSI projects in the greater Puget Sound, we have fully expended our current funding for these programs. We are actively seeking additional funding to continue these incentive programs and hope to hear good news in the near future. But we must admit, sitting here waiting to hopefully receive more funding to keep this work going is tough! It does, however, give us the chance to take a step back and look at what these programs have accomplished and who they have helped.

Over the course of four years, from 2015 to 2019, our Access and GSI Mini Grants supported a total of 65 projects, stretching from Bothell down to Kent. Green infrastructure is known for being hard working, and these projects are no exception, managing an estimated total of 2.7 million gallons of stormwater per year. That is a big chunk of polluted stormwater runoff which is no longer a direct threat to the health of Puget Sound! Another exciting opportunity that came as we developed these incentives was being able to provide a financial tool specifically to income qualified individuals and nonprofits. In 2018, we revised the GSI Mini Grant guidelines and eligibility to allow for mini grants that were a little less mini. We brought the maximum award up to $4,500, for income-qualified and nonprofit applicants; tripling the previous maximum. This update came as a result of community and partner feedback on how to make these grants more equitable. Our funder (King County)’s flexibility and responsiveness to community input demonstrated commitment to equity and social justice and its integration into all programs, making them a perfectly suited funder of this work. Of the 65 total projects awarded, we are happy to say that 43 grants went to either income qualified individuals or nonprofit applicants! Allowing larger grants for income qualified individuals and nonprofits also created a window of opportunity for contractors. Once a greater portion of the project could be covered through a GSI Mini Grant or RainWise Access Grant, there is less of a barrier to landowners interested in GSI on their property. Eligible landowners may be able to install larger projects with greater stormwater benefits and often turn to a contractor for assistance. One local contractor that has benefited from the increased funding for these projects is Giang Nguyen; read about his experience!

“Tôi luôn muốn có cái gì đó để đựng nước mưa để tôi có thể tiết kiệm lượng nước sử dụng. Tôi vui mừng khi bạn tôi nói với tôi về chương trình gắn bồn chứa nước mưa này. Tôi đã liên lạc với nhà thầu và được cho biết rằng tôi có đủ điều kiện nhận được khoản tài trợ cho người có thu nhập thấp. Tôi rất hài lòng với nhà thầu Giang Nguyễn và công việc gắn bồn chứa nước mưa. Anh ấy đã dạy tôi tại sao phải làm chậm dòng chảy nước mưa và giảm số lượng nước mưa trong cống thoát nước mưa. Tôi luôn nghĩ những cống thoát nước mưa mà chúng ta nhìn thấy trên đường phố được chảy vào trung tâm xử lý nước thải.”


“I have always wanted something to capture the rainwater so I can conserve water usage on my bill. I’m glad my friend told me about this cistern installation program. I have contacted the contractor and learned that I’m qualified for the low income grant funding. I am happy with the contractor Giang Nguyen and his work on the installation. He has taught me why it is important to slow and reduce rainwater in the storm drain. I have always thought those drains we see on the street are going into a water treatment center.”

– Qui Nguyen, Mini Grant Recipient