Helping to Green Up Pioneer Square

As part of a broader greenspace improvement project, the Alliance for Pioneer Square, in collaboration with Stewardship Partners, held a volunteer planting event in March 2023 to transform four tree pits on Occidental Ave South into miniature rain gardens. The rain gardens are home to several native plant species that attract pollinators and help filter stormwater, keeping Puget Sound clean. The volunteer event was a huge success, with community members dedicating time and energy to create a unique space in Pioneer Square. This ecologically beneficial beautification project is the result of the volunteer group’s work! Funding for this project was made possible by Historic South Downtown.

In addition to rain gardens, the project included the installation of native artwork designed by Tommy Segundo, a local Native American artist, that was installed adjacent to a storm drain on the sidewalk to draw attention to where our polluted runoff goes and the importance of keeping it clean.

Make a Gift for Giving Tuesday

GivingTuesday is a global day of generosity that will take place on November 29, 2022. GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past ten years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

When you make a gift on Giving Tuesday, you’re supporting more than Stewardship Partners; you’re also supporting the wildlife, people, and natural splendor of our Puget Sound home. Your donation attests to the importance of clean water, healthy salmon and wildlife habitats, sustainable agriculture, healthy communities, and overall stewardship of our shared environment. We hope you will consider supporting us on November 29th!

The Summit is Returning in Person!

Stewardship Partners and the Summit Host Committee are excited to announce that after 3 years in virtual formats, the Green Infrastructure Summit of the Salish Sea will have be coming back in person on March 17, 2023 at Cascadia College in Bothell.

Over the last 3 years we brought attention to regions beyond the central Seattle and King County area to the South, the North, and the West, and now we are back in the middle. We hope you will save the date and watch for updates on the Summit website. Even as we shine a spotlight on the greater Seattle area and meet up in person there, this event is always about sharing stories and leadership in the field of green infrastructure from across the whole Salish Sea region. Please join us and help turn the tide of polluted runoff.

Just a Box of Rain

Summer may still be in full effect for a few more weeks, but at Stewardship Partners we are already thinking about rain. ‘Why??’ you ask. Because we know that all the dry days we’ve had mean that tire dust, car drips, and anything else that lands on our impervious urban surfaces (roads, parking lots, roofs… even lawns) will soon be washed into salmon streams across the region. That ‘first flush’ of polluted runoff (aka stormwater) often comes as coho salmon swim around at the mouths of their birth-streams waiting for rain to swell the streams and allow them to swim up and complete their incredible life cycles and start the next generation. If too much pollution is in the streams when they enter, instead of spawning, those fish will die with bellies full of eggs and milt, and future generations never get their chance.

As a friend of ours, we know you’ve probably heard this before. Protecting and restoring salmon and their streams is the reason we started planting riparian habitat buffers in 1999, and building rain gardens in 2008. Then we created the 12,000 Rain Garden Campaign for Puget Sound back in 2011, and now we are further sharpening our focus to address runoff from our shared highways and roadways, focusing on the worst first by placing rain garden boxes under elevated highways in the densest urban areas. The concept is called ‘Adopt-a-Downspout’ but in the SP office we affectionately refer to it as ‘box of rain.’ The pilot project has been in the works behind the scenes for more than 3 years as we built a partnership with Washington State Department of Transportation. And now we are launching the pilot phase of adopt-a-downspout under the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge in Seattle, one of the most heavily trafficked roads in the state, passing over a major salmon migration corridor. We will be refining the design of our boxes of rain and testing their overall effectiveness over the coming ‘rain year’ (starting October 1), and if the concept works as well as it is expected to, we will expand as quickly as possible to protect and restore the health of our urban streams for salmon, other wildlife and communities. Stay tuned over the coming months for updates as we kick the tires so-to-speak on this approach.

As with everything we do, this project is moving forward because of amazing partners including but not limited to Julia Ebert, the Boeing Company, Snohomish Conservation District, UW Center for Urban Horticulture, WSDOT, Herrera Environmental, TNC, Site Story, Salmon-Safe and many others have all played or continue to play vital roles in this project.

Stewardship Partners Seeks Board Members

Interested in getting involved in a local non-profit organization with a direct impact on Puget Sound? Do you love our area and want to have a hand in programs that engage landowners, shopkeepers, homeowners, builders, and corporations in taking care of our land and water? Stewardship Partners is actively recruiting board members with a diversity of voices in our community. Our low-key, approachable board meets six times annually to help guide and govern the high-impact, hands-on work of Stewardship Partners. If you’ve never been on a board before, but are interested in making an impact locally, please contact info@stewardshippartners.org.

Our 2021 Accomplishments

Dear Stewardship Partners Community,

As we approach the end of 2021, we are thankful for your continued support that has allowed Stewardship Partners to continue providing environmental solutions for landowners and businesses who care for the land and water of the region. We are proud of our on-the-ground work as we continue to forge long-lasting partnerships and measurable positive impacts on the environment and communities across the region.

Stewardship Partners’ resilient, hard-working staff comprises the most experienced and knowledgeable people working to solve our region’s complex environmental issues. We’d like to share several program highlights for the year.

The Snoqualmie Stewardship Program restored two acres of habitat, planted over 3,000 plants at multiple farms, and maintained a record 9.5 acres of restoration sites. We also completed a new Snoqualmie Valley Stewardship Handbook. This guide includes tips and funding sources for projects including home stewardship, agricultural stewardship, forest stewardship, sustainable recreation, volunteering, and green consumer tools. The program continues to expand, working with schools and cities in the Snoqualmie Valley, building rain gardens, and installing other green infrastructure projects in addition to riparian restoration.

A new innovative ad campaign was created this spring that calls on people to become “Rain Changers” by creating rain gardens at their homes and businesses. The campaign was the brainchild of Sam Neukom and the pro-bono creative team at NorthboundMerlino Media also provided resources to match advertising funding. Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, who is planning his second rain garden, lent star power to the campaign. Noting in one radio ad, “if you want to keep your basement dry and the Sound clean, cisterns and rain gardens are a beautiful way to help.” The campaign was featured in the Seattle Times and South Seattle Emerald and included bus-side ads, radio ads, and billboards. The RainWise website saw the largest ever number of visitors to the site after the Seattle Times article. Visit www.rainchangers.org to see if your property qualifies for rebates from the City of Seattle or King County or to find incentives in other areas of Puget Sound. 

The 6th Annual Green Infrastructure Summit of the Salish Sea gathered seven virtual panel discussions and an online networking event over two days in March. We covered big ideas and impacts that go way beyond water alone. Discussion topics included innovative partnerships, whole watershed approaches, climate resilience, systems of power and access, science, and research-based pragmatism, and we shined a spotlight on innovative leadership in northern Puget Sound watersheds. 

We continue to educate the public on supporting local farms and restaurants by choosing sustainable Salmon-Safe products. We also hosted educational workshops and webinars, such as the virtual Flower Farmer Workshop in April. Stewardship Partners maintains a vital relationship with the Salmon-Safe headquarters team in Portland, and we all meet regularly. We are thrilled to welcome new farms to the program this year, such as Farm at Water’s Edge in Belfair and Paradise Parking Plots in Kent. We hope you will help us protect our Puget Sound and all its residents by choosing Salmon-Safe products! 

Once again, we couldn’t gather in person for Feast on the Farm; so we feasted and celebrated with supporters, each in our own homes across the region. It wouldn’t have been possible without our sponsors, farmers, and chefs. Feast on the Farm at home raised $25,500, which will directly support our conservation and restoration initiatives in Puget Sound! 

Stewardship Partners would not be here without you. Thank you for being dedicated to our team and our mission and loving this special place we call home. Please consider Stewardship Partners in your annual giving this year.

Rain Gardens and Cisterns Make for Good Neighbors

Stone Gossard is featured along with the Orca in a new campaign about grants to property owners. 

A few months ago, Stewardship Partners was awarded a grant to spread the news about incentives  for rain gardens and cisterns in King County. The challenge? To reach those unsure about rain gardens and cisterns or who would like to help the environment but also have other pressing concerns about their property such as water damage, high water bills, or landscaping. The 12,000 Rain Gardens campaign started in 2011, so Stewardship Partners figured that most people who were already primed and ready for a rain garden or a cistern had likely installed one. But what about that next layer of folks? Those for whom it can seem like a financial stretch – but are amenable to taking steps that help their property as well as Puget Sound, provided they can afford it. 

After working with Board members Cal McAllister and Samantha Neukom to identify the opportunity, Stewardship Partners gathered the talents of Merlino Media Group and Northbound to create a media plan and creative campaign to reach property owners in the King County area. Our goal? To let them know that there are grants available that can cover  $4,000 toward installing a rain garden or cistern and that by doing so, they can create a win-win. The first win is improving property: rain gardens can improve drainage, dry out basements and decrease mold, and cisterns can significantly lower summer water bills. Rain gardens can also be a beautiful way to add landscaping to your yard. The second win is that by installing a rain garden or cistern, you’re also helping your human, orca, salmon, and other wildlife neighbors that cohabitate with us here in Puget Sound. 

The creative idea came from a mix of Pacific Northwest quirky attitude with lovable, custom animations of our fauna neighbors, featuring the Orca, the Octopus, and the Salmon. In posters, print ads, and bus side ads, you see our animal neighbors installing their own rain gardens and encouraging us, their human neighbors, to do the same. Radio ads feature Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, a rain garden and cistern owner himself, chatting with his orca, salmon, and octopus neighbors. In one radio ad he notes, “if you want to keep your basement dry and the Sound clean, cisterns and rain gardens are a beautiful way to help.”

Stone Gossard, The Neighbor

Monisa Brown, The Orca

The campaign’s goal is to reach King County residents who may be eligible for one of several grants that could cover up to 100% of the cost of installing a cistern or rain garden and to let them know the multiple benefits of doing so. With a simple click or two at www.rainchangers.org, property owners can check their eligibility and set up a visit from a local certified contractor.   

Check out RainChangers in the news at https://www.seattletimes.com/life/garden/installing-a-rain-garden-you-could-be-eligible-for-a-rebate/

View the press release at https://www.stewardshippartners.org/new-program-offers-free-rain-gardens-and-cisterns/

New Program Offers Free Rain Gardens and Cisterns

Pearl Jam Guitarist Stone Gossard and Local Residents Promote Win-Win Solution to Protect Puget Sound, Reduce Flooding, and Improve Health

SEATTLE – With Spring upon us, a new ad campaign on radios and buses around King County calls on people to become “Rain Changers” by creating rain gardens at their homes and businesses. The best part? The City of Seattle and King County will pick up the bill for eligible properties.

“Rain gardens and cisterns can prevent flooding on your property, keep your basement dry, and protect Puget Sound from pollution,” said Aaron Clark, director of strategic partnerships at Stewardship Partners, which is running the Rain Changers campaign. “With public dollars available, this is a no brainer.”

Every time it rains, stormwater carries pollution from our roofs, driveways and sidewalks into local creeks, and ultimately into Puget Sound. Recent research, for example, found tire dust washed into local streams and the Sound killed 40 to 90 percent of returning coho salmon before they spawn.

One residential rain garden can divert 70-100 percent of the rainwater from a property. If 12,000 homeowners build rain gardens, 160 million gallons of polluted stormwater would be treated, helping to protect the Sound. Rain gardens also keep water out of basements, keeping them dry and preventing unhealthy mold.

Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, who is currently planning his second rain garden, is lending star power to the campaign. In one radio ad he notes, “if you want to keep your basement dry and the Sound clean, cisterns and rain gardens are a beautiful way to help.”

The campaign introduces the Orca, the Salmon, and the Octopus, local residents of Puget Sound who support the use of cisterns and rain gardens to protect their homes. One such project is at Duwamish Co-Housing, where new cisterns are helping to prevent flooding and keep polluted stormwater out of the Duwamish River.

“We were so fortunate to receive three 265-gallon cisterns through a grant from King County,” said Ruth Anne, a neighborhood champion who lives at Duwamish Co-Housing. “So many people could benefit from these cisterns and rain gardens – and help Puget Sound – if only they knew the money was there to pay for them.”

Funding for rain gardens comes from two sources, depending on the property location. RainWise, operated by Seattle Public Utilities and King County Wastewater Treatment Division, offers rebates for projects in eligible drainage basins; the average rebate is $4,200. For properties that are not eligible for RainWise rebates, there are Green Stormwater Infrastructure Mini Grants through Stewardship Partners of up to $1,500 or $4,500 for income-limited people and nonprofits.

Rain gardens make financial sense, as they keep stormwater out of the sewers and reduce infrastructure costs. For example, Seattle Public Utilities estimated that natural drainage systems – like rain gardens – would cost $410,000 per block, compared to $720,000 for traditional infrastructure – a savings of more than 40 percent. To check your eligibility and learn more about the Rain Changers program, visit www.rainchangers.org.

About Stewardship Partners

Stewardship Partners is a nonprofit organization that creates people-based solutions to engage Puget Sound communities as caretakers of land and water. Stewardship Partners was founded over 20 years ago, as Puget Sound was in a steep ecological decline. The organization focuses on the role of private landowners—people with a deep connection to the land and a strong motivation to act as responsible stewards of the ecosystem. Starting with a single farmer in the Snoqualmie River Valley, the organization has grown into a national model for developing effective, people-based solutions and engaging communities as caretakers of the land and water. Its programs include Snoqualmie Stewardship (including Adopt-a-Buffer), Salmon-Safe, and Green Infrastructure (including City Habitats, 12,000 Rain Gardens, Green Infrastructure Summit of the Salish Sea and Sound Impacts). More at https://www.stewardshippartners.org/.