Snohomish Conservation District tour highlights the power of partnership

EVERETT, WA – Two main themes were featured during a tour hosted by Snohomish Conservation District on January 18: partnerships and multi-benefit projects.

The tour, which was part of the bi-monthly meeting of the Washington State Conservation Commission, invited attendees to share in the excitement of a community that’s come together to preserve their agricultural and natural resource heritage for future generations.

washington state conservation commission logo
  • Snohomish Conservation District manager Monte Marti welcomes participants from across the state to the tour

    Snohomish conservation district manager monte marti gives presentation
  • Tour attendees learn about agricultural and natural resource issues impacting the Snohomish and Stillaguamish watersheds

    snohomish conservation district manager gives presentation to tour attendees
  • Paul Cereghino (NOAA) explains the effort to make state and federal funding programs better align with locally generated solutions for resource management

    Will Stelle of NOAA Fisheries talks to tour attendees
  • Tristan Klesick, Snohomish County farmer and executive member of the Sustainable Lands Strategy, talks about the value of multi-benefit projects

    Tristan Klesick, Klesick Family Farm
  • Dan Bartelheimer (Sno-Valley Farm and Snohomish County Farm Bureau) tells the story of the 1975 Snohomish River Valley flood when he and other dairy farmers lost their cattle

    dan bartelheimer with french slough in background
  • Partners share the importance of listening to each other as a way to find common ground

    dan bartelheimer speaks to tour attendees

Monte Marti, manager of Snohomish Conservation District, said the focus of the tour was “to talk about the big, gnarly, highly contentious issues that we’re facing, and how we’ll address them together successfully.”

There are many challenges impacting Snohomish County’s landscape and natural resources. Farmland is being lost. Some rivers and creeks have poor habitat conditions for salmon. And, the county has a long history of damaging floods, particularly in rural floodplain areas. Instead of fighting over which of these issues take priority or using a “silo approach” to address each issue separately, partners in Snohomish County have come together to prioritize and solve farm, fish, and flood issues together.

The Snohomish Conservation District, Tulalip Tribes, Stillaguamish Tribe, several local farmers, and many other local, state, and federal partners are working together as part of the Sustainable Lands Strategy (SLS) for Snohomish County. Using a combination of science, local knowledge, and other resources, the SLS group coordinates and prioritizes “packaged” work proposals that benefit farms, fish, and flood management. They then work together to seek funding and capacity to complete the proposed multi-benefit projects.

SLS members and partners told tour attendees that this approach could be used as a model for other community-driven efforts in the Puget Sound region and other regions across the state.

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