On Monday May 15th, the Snohomish Conservation District (SCD) invited out Council Members Brian Sullivan and Stephanie Wright, to join District Manager, Monte Marti, on a tour around south Snohomish County to view completed stormwater treatment projects within their districts (2 and 3). Attending instead were Robert Knoll, Legislative Aide to Council Member Brian Sullivan, Kari Quaas, Outreach Specialist from SCD, and later they were met by Alessandra Durham and Lacey Harper from the Snohomish County Executive Office. The tour consisted of a rain garden on an right of way and a property owner’s house in Edmonds, the Mukilteo Library, Mukilteo Elementary School to view their outdoor classroom, and condominiums along 112th St. SE in Everett.
Monte expressed the goal of the Snohomish Conservation District is to reach, with print media, social media and technology, hundreds of thousands of people to educate and teach them about conservation strategies, and hopefully inspire action. The trickier thing can be how to measure impact.
Robert asked about how the district is funded and Monte explained the assessment as well as the variety of grants that the district manages. Currently our full budget is around $3.34 million. In order to make the most of this money we need to have good policies, good projects, sustainable ideas, and to stay the course. Overlap of agencies and projects is fine because our end goal is a good environment.
Dan Wilson, property owner and proud rain garden champion, showed us around his property and pointed out his neighbors' properties which also received the incentives. Mr. Wilson shared, “This has been a wonderful experience. Most of these plants are slow growing so I won’t have to worry about them until I’m 70!” He expressed his thanks to the Edmonds City Council for their support and he was grateful for the opportunity. He also shared that he has more bees, more birds and that he enjoys the attractive landscape.
Robert asked about whether or not rain barrels are regulated by local governments and that is not the case. Property owners are welcome to help collect some rain for conservation purposes. In fact, the SCD just recently had a rain barrel sale at the office and does so a few times a year to encourage participation.
Since we were running ahead of schedule, we made an extra stop at the Mukilteo Library where the Snohomish Conservation District had assisted with changing the out of control landscape next to the library building into an organized, labeled and native plant-filled beds.
The next stop was Mukilteo Elementary School where the forest land adjacent to the school has been claimed as an outdoor classroom for the students called MEco (Mukilteo Elementary Classroom Outdoors). The impetus for this project came after a school break when the forest that they had been behind their school was eliminated to put in a row of homes. The students were outraged, and asked what they could do to save a patch that remained. Thankfully the school district decided not to sell the land, and with the assistance of Ryan Williams, from the Snohomish Conservation District, a rehabilitation plan was written. The plan was implemented by local boy scout and girl scout troops, volunteers, parents, teachers, and elementary school students. In the process they removed a whole lot of blackberry, received wood chips from Snohomish P.U.D. and now have 1.88 acres of outdoor classroom. The students like to call it their own National Park.
The Mukilteo elementary student tour guides were Nick, Finley and Carter and they did an excellent job showing us around. We were also guided by Ann McManis, who had gotten involved because her son was a scout. We also had a quick visit from Sue Idso, a 5th grade teacher at the school.
Said Alessandra Durham of the Executive Office of the tour, “Thank you for inviting us out! MEco is such wonderful project and I’m glad we were able to visit. The kids were incredibly knowledgeable tour guides.”
Sue Idso commented, “Thank you for giving our kids an authentic opportunity to lead time and time again.”
The last stop of the day was at the Camlyn Condominiums, on 112th St SE in Everett, where we met Judy Berry, who had worked with Kate Riley from the Snohomish Conservation District on their stormwater and beautification plan. Judy told us that the buildings used to be apartments and were changed over into condos. They had a very small budget and were thrilled with the services of SCD. She gave us a tour of the landscaping and pointed out her “little plants.” She was overjoyed with the look of the beds and was so happy that it was affordable for them as residents.