Green River College was recently awarded an $85,773 grant from the Environmental Protective Agency to train students and create environmental outreach materials about the Soos Creek watershed.
Training will be conducted through partnerships with the Green River Coalition, Institute for Community Leadership, city of Kent and Earth Corps.
The Soos Creek tributary is an important spawning area for salmon and currently does not meet the standards laid out by the Clean Water Act. Restoration efforts aim to reduce water temperature, remove invasive plant life and educate those living in the area, said Monica Paulson Priebe, a professor in Green River’s Natural Resources Department.
“This is one of the most at risk areas for salmon migration due to decades of development, pollution and erosion. Addressing these issues will help better the environment and the Green River basin all together,” Priebe said. “Instead of having to hire an expensive contractor, this grant allows us to provide our students hands on training while also giving the community much needed information on how to improve the quality.”
The project’s three major objectives are to assess, educate and restore.
A team of six natural resources students, led by Greg Wingard, co-founder of the Green River Coalition, will access 28 properties in the Soos Creek watershed. The students will present their findings to property owners and community leaders and prepare a quality improvement plan. With funds provided by the grant, students will plant native vegetation to help prevent erosion and to provide shade, which will help lower water temperatures.
“This is a great opportunity for everyone involved,” Wingard said. “Students get to practice their skills and give restoration demonstrations to property owners, there is a greater interaction between the college and the community and we’re doing what can be done to help restore the ecosystem.”
Assessments will begin in early January, Wingard said. Property owners in the Soos Creek watershed interested in participating should contact Wingard at 425-525-8083 or gwingard@earthlink.