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.

New Partnership with Grow It Forward Restoration

Snoqualmie Stewardship is now partnering with Grow It Forward Restoration which offers some unique new volunteer opportunities for folks. More information from GIFR below!

Do you own a pickup truck? You can use it to heal our environment by delivering native tree seedlings to habitat restoration projects!  “Grow It Forward Restoration” (GIFR) is a new local non-profit that organizes gardeners to each grow 100 native tree seedlings in a “micro-nursery” in their gardens, which we sell at below cost to the many habitat organizations in our region who toil to restore ecologically vital habitat for endangered species like salmon and the orcas that feed on them. GIFR’s mission is to empower average citizens to be personally involved in habitat restoration by connecting them to the organizations who do this work.

We rely on a small fleet of volunteer pickup truck owner/drivers like you! Pickups make deliveries at 2 different times of the year. If you sign up to be on our list, you can choose to help out or not as follows:

This October and November, GIFR’s small fleet of pickup truck owners deliver finished seedlings to the sites where they will start a new forest. As we get orders for seedlings, we will ask if you are available during a specific time period to make a delivery as follows:

  • We ask if you can make deliveries up to 2 weeks in advance. If so, we provide contact information for 2 or 3 micro-nursery hosts, and the organization getting the seedlings.
  • You contact everyone and arrange a time to pick up the seedlings from each host then deliver them to a local restoration organization’s site.
  • You go to each micro-nursery, several days in advance if you like, and with the host’s help, load the potted seedlings into your truck. Each is about 5 lbs, 3 feet tall in a pot 4 inches square and 10 inches tall. A pickup truck holds 200 to 250 seedlings.
  • You deliver the seedlings to the grateful habitat restoration organization at the scheduled time and location.

In March of each year, GIFR distributes raw materials for new micro-nurseries to a new set of gardeners who will host them for 1 to 2 growing seasons. We need pickup truck owner/drivers to deliver 500 lbs of clean topsoil for each new micro-nursery as follows:

  • We ask if you are available up to 2 weeks in advance of our kickoff date, usually the first weekend in March. If so, we give you the contact information for 2 or 4 new micro-nursery hosts.
  • You reach out each host to arrange when and where to deliver 500 lbs of soil to each.
  • You go to a Pacific Topsoils location at a time convenient to you. You tell them to charge the soil to us. They load your truck with 1/2 cubic yard of topsoil (about 1,000 lbs for 2 micro-nurseries), or 1 cubic yard if your truck has the capacity.
  • You then drive to each gardener’s home and shovel the soil off the back of your truck. (The host is responsible for picking up 100 pots and bare root seedlings from us). The soil is very fluffy and fairly easy to shovel down off the truck since gravity is working for you!

You may also consider becoming one of our micro-nursery hosts. Here is how that goes:

  • You must live in the Seattle/East side area and have basic gardening skills
  • Pay $100 to Grow It Forward Restoration for the materials for your micro-nursery (500 lbs of soil, delivered, 100 bare root baby seedlings, 100 plastic nursery pots)
  • You must pot all 100 seedlings within 2 days of getting them on the first Sunday in March, requiring about 5 hrs. of light work.
  • You need to devote 16 square feet (4 feet by 4 feet for example) of garden space that has partial sun and shade (full sun is too much, full shade with dappled sun is good, half sun and half shade each day is good.)
  • You agree to host the micro-nursery for one or two growing seasons until the seedlings are big enough, keeping them in a partially shaded spot, and watered through spring and summer dry spells.

If you are interested, please go to our website https://growitfwd.org/ where you will find two forms, one to be a pickup truck owner/driver, and one to host a micro-nursery. Signing up to be a pickup truck driver/owner will put you on our list of possible drivers, and we will later contact you as we are ready to make deliveries and ask if you are available. If you sign up to host a micro-nursery, we will send you a PayPal invoice for $100, then as March approaches, arrange for delivery of your soil and tell you how to pick up your pots and baby seedlings (probably from the Phinney Neighborhood Center in N Seattle).

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.

Have a Pint for a Purpose – June 8th

Join us for Pints for Purpose at Wheelie Pop Brewing in Ballard on June 8th! $1 from every pint sold will go to Stewardship Partners! Come hang out with us, have a beer and learn how you can help protect and restore the Puget Sound!

Wednesday June 8th – Meet Staff from 4-7pm
Benefit Hours 3-10pm
Wheelie Pop Brewing
1110 NW 50th St – Seattle 98107

New Year, New Crew!

For the first time since pre-Covid, Stewardship Partners now has a full field crew! We are pleased to have Aaron, Maggie and Mar working with us this year! This group is strong, knowledgeable and makes a great team. This season, we have been working extra hard to remove a ton of stubborn blackberry roots from our sites (grubbing) and filling in the areas with native plants. We look forward to this arduous work paying off by allowing us to cut back on our summer maintenance demands and improve plant health. We’re eagerly awaiting spring to see how our winter work has paid off and for volunteer events to hopefully resume! Meet our crew below!


Ashley Aversa  – Ecological Restoration Project Manager

Ashley first joined our Team during fall of 2020. She hails from the Pinelands region of New Jersey, where she worked with Rutgers University and SJ Land and Water Trust. Her work focused on program development, stream monitoring, habitat restoration and green infrastructure projects. Ashley holds an Executive Masters in Natural Resources from Virginia Tech, with a focus on water resource stewardship. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys wild foraging, herbalism and exploring the PNW with her partner and hound Arrow.

Magie Regis – Ecological Restoration Crew Member 
Maggie joined the restoration crew team during the winter of 2021. She was born in the Seattle area but was raised in Northern California and moved back to Washington about 10 years ago. Maggie attended Whitworth University in Spokane WA where she earned a B.S. in Biology and minored in Environmental Science and Technical Theatre. She loves working outdoors with nature and wildlife as seen in her work with Washington State Parks, the Woodland Park Zoo as a Research Assistant, and the Sierra Nevada Americorps Partnership program doing watershed restoration, monitoring and outreach. In her spare time, she enjoys musicals, exploring national and state parks, board games and reading.

Aaron Cloudwood – Ecological Restoration Crew Member 
Aaron joined the restoration crew during the fall of 2021. Originally from Portland, Aaron moved to Seattle in 2006 to pursue a degree from the University of Washington in Physics and has since been dedicated to protecting the natural world with an emphasis on water resources. Just prior to joining Stewardship Partners, he was a Seattle Public Utilities RainWise contractor, working with homeowners and schools to install green stormwater infrastructure. In his spare time, he enjoys foraging with his partner, gardening, and building things.

Anne Marie Stapper – Ecological Restoration Crew Member
Anne Marie joined the ecological restoration crew in January of 2022. After moving to Seattle from Austin, Texas in June of 2021, they joined an AmeriCorps field restoration crew where they worked to restore natural areas across the Salish Sea region.  Anne Marie graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in December of 2020 with a B.A. in Geography, Anthropology, and Sustainability Studies. They have a background in environmental education, soils and watershed research, and landscaping, and hope to return to school in the future. In their free time, they enjoy creating music with friends, reading, and exploring the natural areas of the Pacific Northwest.

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.

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/.

I’m a Stewardship Partner Campaign

You may have recently seen the faces of some of our supporters artfully displayed on bus sides and web banners around town. These are part of our new “I’m a Stewardship Partner” public awareness campaign, thanks to the pro-bono hard-work of Jill Marshall and Janice Merlino of Merlino Media Group and Cal McAllister, formerly of Wexley School for Girls.

The campaign features photographs, treated by local artist and musician, Brandon Milner.  These feature a few of our community of supporters expressing how Stewardship Partners helps them become caretakers of our land and water.

In the coming months, this campaign will continue to be featured throughout the Puget Sound region. Look for “I’m a Stewardship Partner,” on billboards, bus sides, on the radio and in digital, print, social media and more.

Read about our partners at: https://www.stewardshippartners.org/im-a-stewardship-partner-campaign/