In 2019, Puget Soundkeeper settled many successful legal actions resulting in $242,632 directed to the Puget Sound Stewardship and Mitigation Fund. The Fund’s goal is to mitigate past pollution runoff by supporting community-based efforts related to conservation, restoration, citizen science, environmental education. Projects funded include:
Bainbridge Beach Naturalists
$5,550 – Puget Sound Mussel Monitoring Program 2019-2020
Project Description: In 2015, Bainbridge Beach Naturalists received a grant from the Puget Sound Stewardship & Mitigation Fund for the placement of a cage of mussels as part of a Puget Sound-wide study of pollutants associated with stormwater and other runoff into the marine environment conducted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington Department of Ecology. BBN now marshals 24 trained citizen scientists to monitor seven sites region-wide as part of an ongoing program to determine whether efforts to clean up runoff are improving water quality. The 2019 grant will support mussel monitoring at two new sites: at a property owned by Washington State University (WSU) at Meyer’s Point in south Puget Sound and a repeat placement at Burley Lagoon in central Puget Sound. The WSU site is of interest due to the proximity to both an active oyster growing operation and the nearby Nisqually Reserve. This is an area that should be relatively pristine, but without testing, it is not possible to determine what the bivalves in the area are adsorbing. The location will also enable students from WSU Vancouver to become engaged in citizen science. The Burley Lagoon site is under pressure to be converted to an industrial geoduck operation, and significant preparatory work for the conversion has already been performed in the lagoon. The fresh study will allow comparison with 2015 results to assess the impacts of the conversion in disturbing sediments and increasing pollution loads in the mussels.
$20,000 – Restoring Public Lands and Engaging Communities in Central Puget Sound’s Upper White River Watershed
Project Description: Conservation Northwest will work in coordination with the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and diverse local stakeholder groups on watershed restoration in a heavily used and degraded landscape in the headwaters of the Upper White River watershed, which drains into Puget Sound. With lessons learned and relationships strengthened from their successful pilot work in 2018, Conservation Northwest will lead a coordinated effort with the Forest Service and other partners to restore 19.41 miles of routes (system and non-system roads and motorized trails) and associated natural resource damage in the Government Meadows area while increasing outreach and engagement to ensure long-term sustainability in the uplands of this watershed. Natural resource specialists have identified these routes as high priorities for closure and restoration through a recent environmental analysis and travel management decision for federal lands in this area. Although the Upper White River watershed provides habitat for three fish species federally listed as threatened: Puget Sound Chinook salmon, Puget Sound steelhead, and bull trout, with the spring chinook being the only remaining spring Chinook stock in the South Sound, its watershed functions have been rated “poor” by the Forest Service due to high road density, sedimentation levels in the water, high stream temperatures, and lack of woody debris. Work funded by this grant will complement implementation of roadway improvements by the Forest Service, and will engage diverse interests in shared stewardship of a legal and sustainable access system, improve watershed health and hydrologic function, restore native habitat, and build momentum and critical relationships necessary towards Conservation Northwest’s efforts to develop a larger blueprint for restoration in this priority Puget Sound watershed.
Earthrise Law Center at Lewis & Clark College
$25,000 – Legal Advocacy for a Cleaner Puget Sound
Project Description: Earthrise Law Center, the law clinic at Lewis and Clark University, will continue its strategic legal advocacy to help control both point source (industrial and municipal dischargers) and non-point source (run-off from agriculture, forestry, and urban areas) pollution into Puget Sound. Earthrise is the largest environmental law clinic in the country, and has been nominated for the prestigious American Bar Association Award for Distinguished Environmental Achievement. Over 20-plus years, Earthrise has trained more than 300 attorneys, many of whom have gone on to make substantial contributions as advocates and leaders for the environment. Grant funding will allow Earthrise and it’s law students to work in partnership with Northwest Environmental Advocates to use the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act to encourage more environmentally-protective federal agency decision-making in Washington State. In turn, this would then require changes by the State of Washington to improve the foundational programs affecting pollution into Puget Sound, including Total Maximum Daily Load determinations, with the ultimate goal of bringing about on-the-ground reductions in pollution into Puget Sound. This project targets multiple forms of Puget Sound pollution, but its primary focus is on nutrient pollution, which causes water quality problems such as low dissolved oxygen, massive algal blooms, and food web changes. Focusing on nutrient pollution is particularly strategic because nutrient treatment technology also removes many regulated and unregulated toxic pollutants. The net result of the project will be reduced toxic discharges, higher dissolved oxygen levels, fewer algal blooms, lower numbers of jellyfish, and higher numbers of forage fish. In addition to directly partnering with Northwest Environmental Advocates, project activities will be coordinated with the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.
Environmental Coalition of South Seattle
$25,000 – Green Stormwater Infrastructure Industrial Demonstration Site at Equinox Studios
Project Description: The Green-Duwamish Watershed is contaminated with toxic chemicals from many sources, including wastewater, industrial practices, and stormwater runoff. Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) has emerged as a practical solution to reduce both water volume and contaminants from industrial sites that flow into stormwater drains and then into the Duwamish River. Many local manufacturing and industrial businesses produce significant zinc and heavy metal runoff from their roofs and downspouts, yet GSI educational materials and outreach in this area is currently limited. In areas not connected to the sewer system, GSI solutions help decrease water volume during heavy rainfall and help prevent additional pollution from entering the Duwamish. Implementing GSI solutions are a practical and sustainable way for business owners to address flooding and contamination issues. Funds from this grant will allow ECOSS to partner with Equinox Studios to coordinate and implement GSI solutions on their property. Located only two blocks from the Duwamish, Equinox is a large industrial business in the heart of Georgetown. The impact of this project is dual-pronged: First, by implementing GSI strategies at Equinox, the project will help control runoff volume into the sewer system and prevent polluted stormwater runoff from entering the Duwamish basin. In alignment with efforts to address pollution at the Superfund site and decrease the volume of surface water, this project will have a positive effect on the health of the local community, fish, shellfish, and salmon, and Green-Duwamish ecosystem. Second, the GSI solutions installed at Equinox will become a permanent industrial demonstration site open to the public, which will create new opportunities to educate industrial business owners about the benefits of GSI. Critically, this project will help ECOSS to address the current gap in education and services to the industrial sector in South Seattle.
Green River Coalition
$25,000 – Soos Creek Watershed Restoration
Project Description: Grant funding will support Green River Coalition’s ongoing restoration projects and conservation community building work in the Soos Creek basin, a tributary to the Green/Duwamish watershed. Green River Coalition has been working in the Soos basin for a number of years to help King County secure lands for natural habitat, and has several active habitat restoration projects in close coordination with King County in and immediately adjacent to Soos Creek, several of which have been supported by past Rose Foundation funding. The new grant will leverage a Regreen 2018 grant from King County, allowing Green River Coalition to expand the related restoration acreage in the Soos Creek basin. In addition to the direct riparian restoration, some of the grant funds will support Green River Coalition’s part-time operations manager who oversees their ongoing projects, and works on securing new grants to further leverage funding towards Green River Coalition’s overall vision of improving the condition of the Green/Duwamish River watershed.
Killer Whale Tales
$11,000 – Killer Whale Tales: Kids Making a Difference Now!
Project Description: Killer Whales Tale’s overarching goal is to promote the conservation of the Puget Sound/Salish Sea waters and the orca population that depends upon it, by providing a high-quality environmental education programming for kindergarten through 6th grade students and their families, at no-cost to the participating schools. In 2018, they reached 8,000 students at 100 schools throughout Puget Sound. Their innovative curriculum uses the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population, a species with complex individual and social behaviors, to capture children’s attention and imaginations and inspire them to become stewards of the Puget Sound. Students are fascinated by Orcas’ complex communication systems and matriarchal pods. When they learn about the species, they naturally begin to care about it and are eager to learn what they and their families can do to reduce their 47 impact on the region’s habitat. Each student receives a “go home” kit that helps their families reduce their impacts on Orca’s by conserving water and energy, increasing recycling and composting, reducing pesticide usage, and buying chlorine-free paper. Detailed follow-up tracking documents achievement of these simple steps which cumulatively add up to a cleaner Puget Sound.
Mid Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group
$25,000 – Green Duwamish Student Stewards
Project Description: The Mid Sound Fisheries Enhancement Group will partner with Sustainability Ambassadors’ already successful problem-based environmental education program in the Green Duwamish River watershed to add a new stewardship element. The project will connect school teachers and students in the program from at least 3 schools directly with priority riparian salmon habitat restoration sites near their schools on the Green River or on important salmon tributaries to the Green. 20 – 30 students will be involved at each of the three schools. The objectives are to: A) engage local youth in water quality and salmon habitat projects in their communities to both serve as a science and math learning opportunity; B) develop engaged communities committed to salmon habitat stewardship; and C) make a meaningful contribution to restoring native trees and shrubs to improve water quality and salmon habitat in the Green Duwamish watershed. Instead of the more typical approach of bringing students out for one day of planting trees along the river, each class will adopt a restoration site over the course of the entire school year and engage fully in the restoration planning and implementation process. With support from Mid Sound staff and Green River Coalition interns from the Green River College, students will learn how to assess their site, how to choose native trees and shrubs that are most likely to succeed at the site, how to put together their planting plan, plant the plants at their site, and then do post planting monitoring and maintenance to ensure their plants survive and thrive. The outcome will be at least three important riparian areas in the Green River watershed will be restored, over 500 native trees and shrubs will be planted in the riparian zone, water quality and habitat will be improved, and the community will be educated and engaged in active stewardship of these areas.
Mini Mart City Park
$25,000 – Green Stormwater Infrastructure at Mini Mart City Park
Project Description: Mini Mart City Park’s long-term goal is to transform a former gas station into a public pocket park and arts-oriented community education and environmental action center in Georgetown near Boeing Field. Grant funds will support the installation of bioretention planters, permeable paving and hardscaping, green roof infrastructure, and Native drought-tolerant landscaping to benefit local water quality in this highly-visible Duwamish Valley location. Multilingual signage will provide a lasting public education element about the benefits of the green infrastructure in reducing stormwater pollution, and partnerships with DIRT Corps and the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps will open up green job pathways for local youth. Specifically, DIRT Corps and DVYC will contribute to design, installation, maintenance, community engagement, job training, education, and ongoing green infrastructure training at Mini Mart City Park. Some of the initial work has already begun, having received $10,000 from the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund to plan the collaboration. Once fully constructed, MMCP will be a case study for how other historical landmarks – even those on contaminated land – can be remediated and repurposed into vibrant community spaces that contribute to initiatives like improving regional water quality.
Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association
$12,000 – The Nooksack River Stewards Program
Project Description: The Nooksack River Stewards Program provides watershed education, stewardship, and citizen science opportunities to residents, visitors, and recreational users of the Nooksack River, which benefits water quality and habitat for native fish. This program fills a need in Whatcom County to build camaraderie between upriver and downriver residents and promote an understanding of their collective watershed. Through innovative, collaborative outreach with several key partners, the Nooksack River Stewards Program provides hands-on opportunities for all ages to learn about river ecology, native anadromous fish, and the various ways to minimize negative impacts on the Nooksack River, while enjoying this special place. A strong outreach component will be targeted towards recreational visitors such as tubing groups which often leave behind harmful trash and debris, and cause habitat degradation, including heavy streambank erosion; all of which leads to increased stress on listed fish species. Grant funding will help defray an educational information booth hosted every Friday – Sunday, strategically placed at the US Forest Service Public Service Center in the town of Glacier in order to connect with visitors as they explore the Nooksack River and/or continue into the North Cascades National Park. Grant funding will also help defray targeted signage and river cleanup events, working with the local community of Acme and the South Fork Community Group. Grant funding will also support interpretive river walks, informational tours to view spawning salmon and investigate the importance of healthy habitat and water quality. Interpretive guides connect these habitat characteristic studies to community impacts and solutions. These opportunities provide a critical connection between local scientific research and river clean-up efforts by directly addressing upstream Nooksack River activities that impact water quality for the greater Puget Sound watershed.
Save Habitat and Diversity of Wetlands
$25,000 – Nature Preserve
Project Description: The 100 acre SHADOW Lake Nature Preserve is an environmental protection center in South East King County; one of the last reaming peat bogs in King County, for 20 years SHADOW has provided access to green space, environmental education, land stewardship, and environmental outreach. In 2018, SHADOW hosted 45 schools and organizations through its Wilderness Adventure Program and held 30 Community Education events, and is now partnering with Natural Resources Conservation Service and King Conservation District to begin a restoration project in SHADOW’s upland habitat. The upland habitat restoration will provide several community stewardship and education opportunities during this year and beyond to protect Puget Sound water quality and watershed health. Through this highly shaded headwater system, SHADOW provides cool, clean water to Big Soos Creek, a salmon bearing system within the Green/Duwamish watershed (WRIA 9). Its waters ultimately flow into the Puget Sound at Elliott Bay in Seattle. Funding will help defray current restoration projects focused on restoring natural forest canopy of mixed conifer and hardwood stand, increasing canopy water retention and improving groundwater recharge throughout the property’s wetland systems. Over the next 40 years our upland restoration will have an estimated carbon sequestration of 1,871,929 pounds and have avoided approximately 1,388,439 gallons of water runoff.
South Sound Estuary Association
$3,582 – Puget Sound Water Quality
Project Description: This grant funding will help educate 1,000 educate students from Thurston and Pierce Counties, and well as an additional 1,350 community members about what lives in the Puget Sound and inspire them to prevent pollution in their everyday lives. From their Olympia-based Estuarium, South Sound Estuary Association will advertise and coordinate the distribution of STEM and NGSS aligned water quality school estuary kit in north Thurston and south Pierce Counties. The hands-on water quality classroom activities and curriculum in the kit were developed with past Rose Foundation’s assistance to educate students about pollution prevention in Puget Sound. These kits specifically target K-12 students that come from disadvantaged neighborhoods. In 2018, the program reached 3,318 K-12 students in their classrooms, and an additional 2,426 beachgoers through SSEA’s Meet the Beach program. Funding will also sponsor the water quality station for North Thurston Public Schools during students’ “On the Water” field trip. For some students, this will be their first experience in seeing Puget Sound from the water. They may have never seen the log rafts in the water on West Bay, armored shoreline bulkheads and docks, or the abundance of wildlife that lives in and around this marine ecosystem. Funding will also support production of a tri-fold version of SSEA’s Making a Difference poster which anchors their outreach booth at numerous local community events. At these events, SSEA will test versions of a Puget Sound pledge and interactive prompts to change behavior that includes tips individuals can make to prevent pollution, conserve water, and reduce their carbon footprint.
SR3 Sealife Response, Rehab and Research
$25,000 – Sharing the Plight of Marine Wildlife to Inspire, Inform and Ignite Solutions to Water Pollution
Project Description: Funding will support broad outreach to inspire water protection efforts in thousands of Puget Sound residents – from Bellingham and the San Juan Islands throughout the entire Sound all the way down to Olympia. Through a vocal, accessible presence at 70 community events during 2019, SR3 will channel people’s passion for marine wildlife into education and action that benefits the water quality of Puget Sound. By harnessing the new 50 community connections these efforts will bring, and recruiting existing volunteers, SR3 will also organize two beach clean-up events, mobilizing 150 volunteers to pick up trash from the shoreline of the Sound. Both efforts will focus on the central Puget Sound – with at least one event in Elliott Bay – and will prevent at least 280 pounds of garbage from ending up in local waterways. Grant funds will be used to support program staffing, vendor fees for attendance at community festivals, interactive educational tools and activities for children, and the printing of materials focused on marine health issues and water pollution prevention. Some educational materials will be available in both Spanish and English. Four college interns will also assist with outreach, in addition to community volunteers. The overall goal of the program is to engage people in understanding how everyday actions are connected to the health of their marine environment as well as their own; bringing about even small changes in individual behaviors, when multiplied across thousands of people in dozens of communities, adds up to a big impact on water quality in the Puget Sound.
Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility
$15,500 – Health-Based Advocacy to Protect Tacoma’s Tideflats
Project Description: Tacoma’s industrial Tideflats, situated on the Puyallup Tribe’s ancestral estuary and home to the Port of Tacoma, is an ongoing target for new and expanded projects by major fossil fuel companies – threatening local water quality and human health. The region is beginning a long-term subarea planning process for Tideflats. This comprehensive land use planning process, expected to take up to five years, will determine what types of industrial uses are prioritized and permitted at the Port of Tacoma, representing a strategic opportunity to map out an environmentally sustainable future for Tacoma’s historic tideflats, and for advocacy to protect Puget Sound from increased fossil fuel pollution threats including catastrophic spills during bulk transport, as well as routine releases related to shipping and industrial operations. Pollution related to fossil fuel development impacts both human and ecological health; oil spills in particular have been linked to increased incidence of cancer, reproductive disorders, and other ailments by contaminating local waterways and fishing resources. Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility believes that enlisting health professionals is essential for charting a new course for Tacoma’s industrial region and surrounding waterways to advocate successfully for jobs and the environment, not job vs the environment. As the land use planning process for the Tacoma Tideflats moves forward over the next year, health-based advocacy will be a powerful means to ensure that local water quality is protected from the threats posed by encroachment of large fossil fuel facilities.