Mountaineers Foundation: Natural Places, Sustainable Practices

Natural Places, Sustainable Practices

Congratulations to RE Sources for Sustainable Communities – Bellingham, WA

The 2017 Paul Wiseman Conservation Education Grant (PWCEG) was awarded to RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.

Young Water Stewards conducting water tests

A water quality crisis in the Puget Sound brought the Community Grants Committee to conclude that the RE Sources for Sustainable Communities was the most timely and important project presented during the 2017 PWCEG process.

“Stormwater pollution killing coho before they can spawn.” The Seattle Times 19 Oct. 2017. According to this front page article, depending on how populated an area of the Sound is, anywhere from 10% to 100% of migrating coho are killed before spawning. The greater the human population, the higher the percentage of coho death. The leading suspect seems to be tire dust from vehicles. The Bellingham coho are especially hard hit with areas of 40% or greater death statistics.

Young Water Stewards marking drains to salmon streams

Not only is Whatcom County hit with the possibility of vehicles severely polluting the local rivers and streams, Whatcom’s waters are also severely polluted by agriculture and dairy farming. At the end of 2016, only 16% of routine monitoring sites in the Nooksack River/Portage Bay watershed met the state water quality bacteria standard. Impacts of this pollution are dwindling salmon runs, increasing algae blooms, and eliminating riparian zones.  All of this pollution is making its way downstream and into the Salish Sea. Even Lummi Nation oyster beds were closed!

The RE Sources Young Water Stewards program is in its 2nd year. It is a field survey and classroom-based instructional program that teaches 500 high school students about the important functions of, impacts to, and ways in which they can protect watersheds, rivers, streams and water quality. Students collect water samples at sites such as agricultural, construction, and harbors. As data is studied, Best Management Practices are discussed and practical stewardship actions are employed. Both training and tools are provided to teachers. The grant award of $12,908 will support this program and help develop the next generation of community leadership.

As an environmental grant maker, we, as an organization, are proud and excited to partner with RE Sources for Sustainable Communities! Together, we will have a positive impact on the health of the Salish Sea.