Watershed science up close

The 2018 Puyallup Watershed Science Symposium, held at Meridian Habitat Park and Community Center on Dec. 7, brought together professionals, community members, agency staff, volunteers, higher-education faculty and students with common goals: To protect local waters for the future, learn more, share information, and educate the public about the latest science and research in the Puyallup watershed.

As guests poured into the community center in South Hill, they registered, networked, grabbed coffee and some sweets, and settled down for a symposium that was jam-packed with valuable information.

The Puyallup River Watershed Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Puyallup watershed, organized the event. With a focus on restoring, protecting and enhancing the environmental, economic and cultural health of the watershed from Mount Rainier to Commencement Bay, the council brings together citizens and representatives of business, governments and other groups who work together to achieve clean water, healthy habitats and thriving communities.

The council tries “to keep momentum going for folks who are trying to help the watershed,” said Carrie Hernandez, the council’s president. She added that each creek and stream has their own issues.

“The symposium brings all these folks together. One of the goals is to make science accessible. We try to have presenters that talk about local projects they were working on. This is a place they get to share their successes and their accomplishments,” said Hernandez.

Sponsors of the event included the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Port of Tacoma and Pierce County.

The symposium is an annual community event designed for networking, sharing and learning about current environmental science, studies and planning to improve the health of the Puyallup-White River Watershed.

With presentations on salmon habitat protection and restoration strategy for the Puyallup and Chambers creek watersheds, climate change and salmon recovery, there was no shortage of information at the 2018 symposium.

Lucy Rollins, a Washington State University Puyallup lab tech researcher, attended the event with Sarah White, a University of Washington-Tacoma graduate currently working for the state Department of Natural Resources in Olympia.

“There is always something new to learn, and I like working with the students,” said Rollins, adding that students get an opportunity to learn about research and develop their own interest areas.

Renee Buck, a volunteer with Chambers-Clover Creek Watershed Council, also attended the event. She said, “There are lots of issues in science that are regional. Clover Creek is different in that groundwater fed into the Puyallup and Nisqually rivers are glacial.”

Krystal Kyer, watershed coordinator for Pierce County Planning and Public Works and one of the organizers, said they were expecting close to 100 guests to attend the symposium.


This article is sponsored through a grant partnership between Pierce County Planning and Public Works’ Surface Water Management Division, the Puyallup River Watershed Council, the Industrial Stormwater Community of Interest of the Puyallup Watershed Initiative, and Senior Media Services. The grants support efforts to improve stormwater management, water quality and habitat through education and enhancement activities.

Meridian Habitat Park and Community Center was the venue for the 2018 Puyallup Watershed Science Symposium. (Joan Cronk/for Senior Scene)