Pierce Conservation District announces environmental grant candidates

The Pierce Conservation District (PCD) Board of Supervisors is prepared to take action that would award $125,000 in grants to five local environmental conservation groups, according to discussion Wednesday at the Tacoma City Council Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee meeting.

The board is expected to make a decision June 29, effectively awarding grant funds to the groups July 1.

Grant recipients would include the Puget Creek Restoration Society ($8,525 for its Puget Creek Eelgrass Restoration project), Citizens for a Healthy Bay ($30,000 for its Foss Log Storage Restoration Plant), Native Plant Society ($29,000 for its Native Plant Salvage program), Tahoma Audubon ($35,000 for its Habitat Stewardship program, and the Tacoma Urban League ($22,500 for its work crew).

A call for grant proposals was announced in April through direct mail solicitations and neighborhood and community council leadership meetings, and applicants had approximately one month to prepare proposals. The PCD board received nine applications, which were then weighted and ranked according to the following criteria: measurable benefits; project timeline; project partners; external resources; community involvement; and evaluation strategy. Project proponents were invited to discuss their proposals to the board.

“These were all good proposals,” said PCD Board member David Seabrook, who provided the EPW Committee with score sheets completed by each board member.

“This was a very transparent process,” commented Councilman Tom Stenger, who is also chair of the EPW Committee.

Grant money would come from the Tacoma Priority Fund (TPF). In a memo to the committee, Pierce Conservation District Manager Monty Mahan reported that TPF resources for 2005 were originally projected at approximately $105,000. “Through frugal management of funds,” wrote Mahan, “we now believe that approximately $125,000 will be available to apply to [applicants] over the coming year.”

Additionally, three proposals are recommended to be funded through other district resources. Those proposals include the following: Blueberry Park Enhancement ($4,770 requested by Charlotte Valbert); University of Puget Sound ($10,000 for Commencement Bay Eelgrass); Metro Parks ($6,500 for enhancements to the Tacoma Nature Center).

Keeper Owls, which submitted a request for $60,000 to fund Seeding Imperiled Open Space, will not receive grant funding.