Real work, real money: enviro groups awarded funds

Eight non-profit environmental groups working to improve Commencement Bay and the lower Puyallup River watershed will share $41,888 awarded by the Port of Tacoma, Pierce County, and the City of Tacoma, according to action taken during yesterday’s Port of Tacoma Commission meeting.

Ranging from $3,000 to $7,000 per group, the source of the one-time awards are excess dollars funded but not spent on earlier, successfully completed Port, County and City environmental projects, according to the Port’s Government Affairs Manager Dick Dorsett.

Along with port staff and commission members, Dorsett solicited and reviewed the proposals submitted by the eight environmental groups with two distinct criteria in mind: each group must show an ability to apply a relatively small amount of funding to an actual project of benefit to the Commencement Bay or Lower Puyallup Watershed environments; and each group must have programs that provide a direct contribution to educating school students about the area’s marine and habitat environmental issues.

“We had the opportunity to identify the funds and groups that work in the area of watershed protection,” said Dorsett. “These groups are focused on real environmental protection work in the water.”

Reflecting on the decision to award the funds, Port Executive Director Timothy J. Farrell recalled, “We thought, ‘Let’s do something constructive with these funds.’ To small organizations, these funds can be significant.”

Awards were given to the following organizations:

— Friends of Swan Creek Watershed will replace a frequently damaged and vandalized bridge across the creek with a new, concrete span, donated by Concrete Technology. – $7,000

— Cascade Land Conservancy will use its award to pay for mapping related to the purchase of a 17-acre shoreline property adjacent to Marine View Drive. – $3,000

— Pierce Conservation District will restore at least a quarter acre of eelgrass in Commencement Bay. – $5,000

— Friends of the Hylebos Wetlands will conduct invasive species control and re-vegetation of the Spring Valley Ranch, a 20-acre stream and wetland habitat restoration project. – $7,000

— Citizens for a Healthy Bay will use its award to support its on-the-water inspections of Commencement Bay shorelines and waterways. – $5,000

— Puget Creek Restoration Society will receive funds to correct a fish passage ladder on Puget Creek and to support macroinvertebrate sampling at Puget Creek. – $4,888

— The Zoo Society will provide education opportunities for Communities in Schools students participating in a Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium learning experience. – $3,000

— Brown’s Point Charters will team with Community in Schools to provide opportunities for students in the third to sixth grade about marine science, geology, and environmental issues in Commencement Bay and surrounding waterways aboard the organization’s 69-foot vessel, My Girl.- $7,000

“The City of Tacoma has long been a champion of environmental protection and restoration,” said Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma. “Its leadership of the cleanup of the Thea Foss Waterway is well known. Today, we are pleased to make these awards to our community partners whose work protects and restores our environment.”