In March 2022, the Department of Enterprise Services declared full restoration of the Deschutes Estuary as the likely preferred alternative to managing Capitol Lake. During this pivotal moment in anticipation of the final Environmental Impact Statement coming this fall, Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team (DERT) is expanding the South Sound Healthy Watershed Program in ways that will radiate outwards to encompass more areas of our Waterkeeper Alliance Affiliate Jurisdiction (see attachments for a map) and reach underserved communities. We cannot facilitate the process of a healthy estuary and improvement of Budd Inlet water quality without inclusive community involvement.
In 2023, our focus will be on community members in the mid to upper Deschutes area in rural Thurston County. This outreach program has 4 phases: 1) Gather demographic info and contacts from homeowners associations, nonprofits, and other prominent micro-community organizations in this area. 2) Create educational print and web outreach materials for community members. 3) Distribute materials through web communications, mail, and at events. 4) Organize outreach and education events, which may include: a) “on-the-water” education events and water quality data collection in Budd Inlet and accessible stretches of the Deschutes River b) Community forums c) Lead interpretive estuary tours around Capitol Lake, the 5th Avenue dam, and Budd Inlet.
The most important aspect of this project is the development of a Deschutes Youth Advisory Council that will provide insight on outreach events and materials in exchange for a stipend and career development training.
DERT’s programs center human influence on the health of the Deschutes Watershed, and what the community can do collectively and individually to advocate for the estuary. We aim to influence mindful environmental decisions pertaining to sedimentation, nutrient pollution, shoreline erosion, stormwater runoff, industrial pollution, and more.