The Snoqualmie Valley has been home to the Snoqualmie Tribe (Sdukwalbixw) since time immemorial. Long before European explorers came to the Pacific Northwest, Snoqualmie people hunted deer and elk, fished for salmon and gathered berries and wild plants for food and medicine. By comparison, Stewardship Partners’ Snoqualmie Stewardship program has been restoring agricultural land in the valley merely for the past 15 years. We have been partnering with the Tribe’s Environmental and Natural Resources (ENR) program for much of that time, planting native trees and shrubs and removing noxious weeds along the river, as we educate the broader community, connecting them to their land and water. Through this partnership our relatively new role is connected to a much older stewardship tradition.
One of our earliest joint-projects supported ENR’s mission to restore traditional ecological knowledge by planting species historically used by the tribe for harvests and medicine along the river at Oxbow Farm and Conservation Center. Our latest collaboration addresses the problem of stormwater pollution by building a demonstration rain garden at Carnation Elementary School; adding to several green infrastructure installations that ENR has constructed on tribal property. This rain garden will treat approximately 150,000 gallons of runoff annually from 6,500 sq. ft. of the school’s roof. This project will give students a real-world example of green infrastructure that improves water quality and create green space. ENR’s toolkit for conserving the Snoqualmie Valley also includes water quality monitoring and a robust recycling and composting program.
In addition to the above projects, we have been working with the tribe since 2015 on a series of educational habitat restoration events at Tolt MacDonald Park and Fall City Community Park, thanks to a King County Small Partnerships grant. Through these efforts, we have planted thousands of trees, engaged hundreds of community volunteers and educated many students. Today, if you drive over the Snoqualmie River on Tolt Hill Road and look to the north, parallel to the Tolt River, you will see a young forest of native alders, cottonwoods, and conifers emerging from what was once a giant swath of non-native, invasive blackberry. We are grateful for our partnership with the Snoqualmie Tribe and for their continued leadership as stewards of the Snoqualmie Valley.