Clackamas Water Environment Services is seeking applications from businesses, nonprofit organizations, watershed councils and other community groups to receive up to $30,000 each for stewardship projects.
The application period for WES' 2021 RiverHealth Stewardship Program is open now through April 29 for project proposals that include rainwater infiltration, streamside restoration, pavement removal, education and outreach.
According to Ron Wierenga, WES environmental services manager, the program aims to engage community partners in helping WES achieve goals around watershed health through stewardship and education projects.
"By engaging the community we really get more than we would if we just tried to do it on our own" Wierenga said. "(Community groups) have their own footprint. They have their own connections and ways to engage the public in whatever projects they propose doing."
In 2020, WES distributed nearly $300,000 to fund 11 projects proposed by businesses, watershed councils, homeowners associations and other groups. That included nearly $30,000 for a partnership between North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District for a three-part watershed cleanup event in the Mt. Scott-Kellogg Creek watershed. It also included a riparian restoration project along Milwaukie's Minthorn Creek spearheaded by employees of Dave's Killer Bread.
According to Wierenga, WES is encouraging more Clackamas County businesses to think about how they can get involved with projects in their communities to engage both their employees and neighbors to think about the ecosystems they interact with through a lens of environmental stewardship.
Wierenga notes that these projects can be big or small, noting that in recent years businesses have applied for projects that simply remove impermeable surfaces such as excess parking lots and instead installing rain gardens, which help capture and filter surface water and stormwater runoff.
"Those are really high-priority projects for us: businesses that are willing to engage us and do a project that reduces impervious area or propose to build a treatment system for an impervious area that isn't currently being treated because it was developed 30 years ago," he said. "Until someone comes to redevelop property, our design standards don't kick in unless someone is taking that action."
According to Wierenga, WES is extremely proud of the projects this grant program has initiated in the past, and they're excited to begin fielding a new round of grant proposals to partner with the community in working towards improving the overall health of Clackamas County's watersheds.
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