Hometown: Auburn, Alabama
Streamflow Restoration Policy Intern, Washington Water Trust
Why did you want to do this internship?
Settler colonialism and unchecked industrial growth in the United States have affected every facet of our interconnected natural world, including water. I was eager to learn more about the often-overlooked ways that a diminishing freshwater supply and increasing effects of climate change are affecting the Western United States through the lens of people attempting to restore streamflow and mitigate current and future water usage. Washington Water Trust fascinated me with its unique emphasis on concrete, on the ground, and immediate water action.
How does your role support the host organization's mission?
Washington Water Trust’s mission is broad, and therefore my work this summer is as well. I am assisting on various projects that each take a location-specific approach to restoring water that accounts for the ecological makeup of the watershed and the people that live in the area. My work ranges from a project in the Dungeness that pays farmers to not water certain acres during the hottest month of the summer during drought years (which this year is), to a project focused on researching the effects of longer harvest rotations on stream flow in partnership with the Nooksack Indian Tribe.
On stage with co-workers at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival run by Washington Water Trust (photo credit: Courtney Baxter)
How would you describe one of the projects you will be working on this summer?
My main project this summer involves the Streamflow Restoration Act (SRA). I am working with a team of tribal officials, county and state employees, and salmon recovery non-profits to implement a comprehensive watershed revitalization plan in the Snohomish and Stillaguamish Basins in accordance with the SRA. I am creating a database of all projects proposed and active in the basins relating to water, and then meeting with various experts to prioritize areas of concern. My findings will help guide decisions of where to appropriate millions of dollars of funding over the next 20 years that the SRA has earmarked for the Snohomish and Stillaguamish Basins.
How does this project relate to your studies and/or career goals?
As a Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity student, I am continuously learning about the ways that race and land are intimately linked. Navigating a world of power and exploitation requires an attention to detail. Working on projects with the Washington Water Trust has pushed me to think about the ways that every small stream and every person is affected by climate change and processes of the natural world.
Has anything surprised you about the work, the organization, or the environment?
The lack of templates for many of the projects that Washington Water Trust is doing has greatly surprised me. Mainstream white conservation organizations are just now beginning to “undo” the damage done to waterways in the West since colonization began. Projects like payments for watershed services are being created as they are implemented, and therefore much of Washington Water Trust’s work is cutting-edge and being done by very few organizations in the world.
Learning how to measure streamflow at Big Creek near Cle Elum, WA (photo credit: Chloe Carothers-Liske)
Read more at the Out West Student Blog »