The Puget Sound/Salish Sea Watershed Fund was created by a legal settlement between Bellingham-based RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and Pacific International Terminals (PIT), which resulted in an $825,000 mitigation payment. As required by the settlement, the funds may only be used for construction of physical projects or other on-the-ground work for physical improvements for the benefit of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea.
RE Sources sued PIT as part of its North Sound Baykeeper program, which protects and restores the marine and nearshore habitats of the northern Puget Sound/Salish Sea region. In addition to litigation to enforce the Clean Water Act, North Sound Baykeeper works in coalition with other organizations, interacts and partners with agency staff and decision makers, offers technical assistance trainings for businesses to help them come into compliance with state and federal permitting systems, and encourages public involvement and stewardship through educational events and volunteer programs. The suit revolved around allegations that PIT had violated the Clean Water Act by discharging fill materials into wetlands located on its Cherry Point property in Whatcom County. The waters near Cherry Point are a designated aquatic reserve, and home to extensive kelp and eelgrass beds that help support a unique herring population. The area is noted for its rich biodiversity, is recognized as Usual and Accustomed fishing grounds of the Lummi and Nooksack Tribes, and supports commercial and recreational fishing as well as serving as an important stopover for migratory birds.
In addition to the mitigation payment, PIT agreed to conduct restoration work on the wetlands and also set aside additional protected wetland acreage. RE Sources received no funding from this lawsuit; however, the lawyers on the case received repayment of attorneys’ fees and expenses, which were paid separately from the mitigation fund. Since the Rose Foundation had already established the Puget Sound Stewardship and Mitigation Fund, which was created through a series of legal settlements involving the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and had already organized a grant program to award mitigation funds back to the community as grants to protect Puget Sound, RE Sources and North Sound Baykeeper asked the Rose Foundation to administer the PIT funds through this existing program.
Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment is a grant making public charity that has specialized experience handling restitution payments and class-action settlement awards. For more than 15 years, Rose has administered approximately 400 settlement mitigation funds, enabling more than $40 million in community grants in Washington, California, Oregon and other states. To ensure that the Puget Sound/Salish Sea Watershed Fund is grounded in the values and knowledge of the local community, the fund is guided by a funding advisory board of watershed, wetlands and marine science experts.
For More Information
Kevin Hendrick, Grants Manager
Email: khendrick[AT]rosefdn.org (please replace [AT] with @) or call (707) 951-1734