EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
By Kasey Hovik
I celebrated my 65th birthday in February. It is a “milestone birthday” because, for many, it marks a retirement age. I have spent time pondering what 65 means to me, and I can sum it up in one word, grateful. I’ve lived in the Umpqua since March 2011, when I met the love of my life. Shortly after moving here, Janice introduced me to Umpqua Watersheds. Over the past twelve years, I have developed more friendships than ever. During my work with Umpqua Watersheds, I have been able to work alongside my friends and develop friendships with young people in our AmeriCorps program. These young people give me great hope that today’s generation will help solve the many difficult problems we face in our community and the world. Our great common denominator is our earnest desire to protect and celebrate our planet.
The most difficult part of my job as executive director for Umpqua Watersheds is finding the resources to support our staff and programs. As you can see from this newsletter, we have a LOT going on. I often wake up at night worrying about how we can continue supporting our staff and programs. Time after time, the answer is that we need more people and organizations outside of our community to understand just how important the Umpqua Basin is to the planet. I call it the Umpqua Amazon because, in many ways, the trees we seek to protect here are equally important to sustaining the planet as those in the Amazon. Our community members and supporters have given so much through the years, and we are grateful. We would not be here without you! But, increasing awareness of Umpqua Watersheds within and outside our community is key to sustaining and growing our staff and programs. We will accomplish this through continued collaboration with our community partners and dynamic community projects such as our full-power radio station, KQUA 90.5, and the Umpqua Outback project. Both projects will dramatically expand awareness of who we are and what our community partners and we are trying to do to improve our community and protect the natural resources which sustain the life we enjoy in the Umpqua.
It can be disheartening when we aren’t selected for funding from a foundation. We believe strongly in our projects and work hard on our grant applications. The competition is steep, and we are comparatively smaller than our sister organizations in the larger metropolitan areas. And yet, everything is put into perspective when I get to work with people who have lost everything but move forward with steadfast courage and determination to continue to be beacons of light in our community. Al and Trudy Walker are two people I am grateful to call friends. They purchased 80 acres of land near Idleyld in 1985 and, over several years, built their dream home, which was off-the-grid, using solar and hydro energy. In September 2020, they lost their dream home and most possessions in the Archie Creek Fire. When we learned that the Archie Creek fire had engulfed the area around their home, we were so worried about their safety and then relieved when we found
out they were safe. Al and Trudy have been
supporters of Umpqua Watersheds since it was established. Many of us reached out to them and felt helpless as they struggled through the fire’s aftermath. It took over a year for them to decide to rebuild and restore the land they called home. In February, Jessica Saxton and I interviewed Al about his and Trudy’s experience. Umpqua Watersheds is honored to be a part of the Dreamcatcher Restoration Project. Al and Trudy are in the process of replanting trees and vegetation on their property. We talked to Al and Trudy about bringing people together over many events to help them, just as pioneers did when work was needed. Neighbors would gather to build a barn, and people would work hard to support the project. After working hard, everyone would gather for food, drink, and music and share stories. We hope over the coming months that, we can help rekindle that spirit.
Al and Trudy named their property “dreamcatcher” because of the history the area has to the native people of the Umpqua. When we visited the property, we understood why it was a sacred place to the people of the Umpqua. Stories. Distinguished local historian Lavola McMillen Bakken had a cabin on the Dreamcatcher property and shared stories of Mace Tipton, the last Chief of the east Umpqua Indians. It is a special place, and being part of the restoration is an honor. Please consider joining us for events this spring and summer.
You can listen to the podcast of the Living Downstream Radio Show.