The East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District announces its 2019 Partners in Conservation (PIC) grants totaling $622,362 awarded to 20 conservation and environmental education projects in the EMSWCD service area (all of Multnomah County east of the Willamette River). PIC funding for 2019 will also leverage more than $3 million in additional support through matching in-kind and cash contributions!
EMSWCD received 29 PIC applications this year, representing projects in each of its five primary grant program areas: restoration and monitoring, stormwater management and naturescaping, urban gardening and sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and equitable access to conservation benefits. To ensure a thorough and fair evaluation of the applications, the grant review committee included an EMSWCD Board Director and others from a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise, including members of the community and staff from non-profits and public agencies.
The EMSWCD Board of Directors awarded 20 grants, including support for three two-year projects. A wide variety of projects were funded this year, including a $50,000 two-year grant to Outgrowing Hunger, an organization focused on nurturing connection to nature, food and community among immigrant and refugee populations. Outgrowing Hunger currently operates 12 community garden sites in East Multnomah County, provides supplies and tools, and offers culturally relevant and language specific garden workshops and education to its gardeners. Funding will provide access to sustainable, watershed-friendly urban agriculture and gardening, provide education and technical support, and build a new community garden.
Another highlight of the 2019 PIC awards is a $45,000 two-year grant to Columbia Riverkeeper. In addition to supporting the ongoing monitoring of E. coli in the Columbia River to encourage safe swimming, this grant will support the organization’s collaboration with the Yakima Nation to address fish contamination near Bradford Island. Bradford Island, located near the Bonneville dam, is one of the most popular fishing spots in Multnomah County. Most anglers do not know it is dangerous to eat the resident fish near the Island due to extremely high levels of cancer-causing PCBs. This two-year project engages diverse communities who fish near Bradford Island, one of the most contaminated sites on the Columbia, working closely with the Yakima Nation, tribal fishers and other impacted groups to advocate for more effective cleanup.
The PIC program was created in 2007 to support organizations that help fulfill the EMSWCD’s mission to help people care for land and water. Over the past ten years, over $7 million has been distributed through more than 250 grants to over 100 organizations. EMSWCD’s Acting Executive Director, Andrew Brown, says “We’d like to congratulate and applaud this year’s grant recipients. They have demonstrated a deep commitment to our local community and the natural environment in our service area. We couldn’t achieve our mission without their tremendous contribution and dedication.”