Executive Director Update Winter 2020
For many of us, 2020 started with such high hopes. Just the thought of starting a new decade is always exciting, as we imagine what will happen in the next ten years. None of us imagined that the first year of the 2020 decade would include a global pandemic. In our country alone, we have experienced over 14 million cases of COVID-19, 300,000 deaths, massive unemployment, and 55 million people facing food insecurity. We also saw massive wildfires that devastated our state and impacted our beloved Umpqua and destroyed the homes of many of our friends, and decimated over 130,000 acres of pristine forest.
It is clear to many of us that things will never be the same as they were a year ago, which is sad and tragic in many ways. It is important to recognize that the many ways we have become more resilient and adaptive in the face of these challenges. I am very proud of how Umpqua Watersheds, a small conservation non-profit, has managed to overcome the challenges we faced thanks to our dedicated staff, volunteers, members, and supporters. Since March, we have conducted all of our committee and BOD meetings via Zoom. We held a very successful virtual banquet in April, virtual River Appreciation Day in July. We were able to gather all of our former and current AmeriCorps members together in October for our AmeriCorps fundraiser. I couldn’t be prouder of Ryan Kincaid and her predecessor, Robyn Bath-Rosenfeld, and their ability to adapt their service to enable them to continue our environmental education programs.
As we move into recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, we all must embrace the things we have learned that have helped us successfully deal with the tremendous adversities we have faced in 2020. I believe we all have a special appreciation of how important gathering with family and friends is to our well-being. Even the most “hug averse” of us are longing for a hug, and those of us who are huggers, well, we can’t wait. Hugging trees helps but certainly can’t wait for a warm embrace from people we care about. Another important thing to remember about 2020 was how wonderful it was to get outdoors to escape the isolation. Over the last 9 months, UW has hosted several small hikes to special places, including several in the Umpqua National Forest that are now destroyed because of the Archie Creek Fires. We are actively working to find safe ways to help in the initial restoration efforts and monitor the plans federal and state agencies have for the areas impacted by the fire.
We hope that you and your families remain safe and well as we recover. The pandemic’s most challenging times for our community may occur in the next 2-3 months. Continue to practice appropriate social distancing and wear your masks when you are out in public. If you need help, please reach out to us. Soon we will be able to be together again. In the meantime, feel the heartfelt appreciation we have for your support during this challenging year.