The Nisqually Indian Tribe and the Nisqually River Council are working with local high-school students to build six rain gardens in Eatonville, continuing several years of stormwater mitigation work.
“If we don’t do something, growth in Eatonville will have a massive detrimental impact on salmon and water quality,” said David Troutt, the tribe’s natural resources director. “But if we can handle the growth the right way, we can have salmon and a healthy community.”
Funded in part by EPA’s National Estuary Program, dozens of rain gardens have already been built throughout Eatonville, giving the city the distinction of the highest density of rain gardens of any community in the country.
Rain gardens capture and absorb polluted runoff from impervious surfaces, like roofs or parking lots. They reduce runoff by allowing stormwater to soak into the ground instead of flowing into storm drains causing pollution, flooding and diminished groundwater.
As a part of the project, the council’s Nisqually River Education Project is engaging local high-school students in building and caring for the city’s growing collection of rain gardens. The project is working with four students from Eatonville High School to design each new rain garden. Each student also participated in the tribe’s Stream Stewards training course.
“This kind of effort is what we’d like to see across the watershed and across the region,” Troutt said. “When we end up saving salmon and Puget Sound, it will be because we’ve found ways to handle the population growth that is going to come.”