EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT Dec 2021
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT…Kasey Hovik
Umpqua Watersheds (UW) has accomplished many things over the course of 2021. For a second straight year our social fundraisers: the Annual Banquet and Silent Auction, the Umpqua Brew Fest and Outback Concerts had to be canceled due to the pandemic. Yet, thanks to tremendous generosity from our members, supporters, and grant funders we have not just persevered, we have thrived. This year, as in 2020, we logged over 3,000 volunteer hours!
In 2020, thanks to a grant from the Burning Foundation we were able to hire Angela Jensen to be our first Conservation and Legal Director and in 2021 we were awarded another grant from the Burning Foundation to continue this work. Angela has done tremendous work in assembling and leading our Conservation Committee, writing comments to agency timber sales and actions, representing UW on various state environmental conservation alliances and working with legal challenges related to federal agency actions.
In September we were able to hire our first Director of Education and Outreach, Ryan Kincaid, thanks to a grant from the C. Giles Hunt Charitable Trust. Ryan did an outstanding job as our 2020-21 AmeriCorps member continues to amaze us with her work ethic, creativity, and organizational skills. She leads both our Education Committee and our newly formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
Over the last year we have put together a coalition to help in the restoration of BLM, Forest Service, and Private Land impacted by the Archie Creek Fire. Thanks to grants from the Rosso Family Foundation, the River Network.org, and the National Forest Foundation we, along with our partners at Phoenix School have raised thousands of dollars for plants, seed, and equipment. We have also hired a Post Fire Recovery Leader/intern. Spencer Dieterich, an Umpqua Community College student in the Natural Resources Program started in October and we held our first restoration event on November 19 on the Umpqua National Forest. We are proud to be working with Phoenix School, the Bureau of Land Management, the Glide Revitalization Project, the National Forest Foundation, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Partnership for Umpqua Rivers, the U.S. Forest Service, Umpqua Community College in collaborating in the restoration of lands impacted by the fire and to build community support and recognition that we can work together to solve difficult ecological problems in a sustainable way.
Also in September, we welcomed UW’s 10th AmeriCorps member, Jane Maloney. She was a perfect fit for the position but sadly had a family emergency and had to leave the program in October. Fortunately, thanks to a lead from former UW executive director, Cindy Haws, we were able to find our current AmeriCorps and another perfect fit for UW, Viviana Young, who started with us in November. We couldn’t be happier to add her to our organization. She is the first UCC and OSU graduate to join us as an AmeriCorps member.
We are extremely happy to announce a new partnership with Umpqua Valley Audubon Society! Starting in February 2022 they will host their first AmeriCorps member who will be working out of the UW office. As part of the agreement, UW will provide office space and supplies as well as mentoring and supervisory support. Look for some exciting opportunities from this wonderful collaboration in 2022!
As you can see from the articles in this newsletter our committees have been very busy in 2021 and expect that 2022 will see some very special events and activities because of the hard work of the volunteers and staff who support them. All of our committees; conservation, education, outreach, restoration, wilderness, grants and facilities spend many hours each month working on programs, events and activities that support our mission. Our board of directors and myself sit on those committees along with staff and other volunteers. None of the things we get accomplished would be possible without our Office Manager and Grant Coordinator, Melanie MacKinnon. She keeps the office humming and coordinates with everyone to ensure we are all on the same page.
An important part of what Umpqua Watersheds does is to represent the Umpqua basin and beyond in many coalitions and alliances that help shape public policy at local, regional, and national levels. I am very heartened by the great work that is conducted and the results the groups are producing. In the last two months we have seen improvements on how private land is being managed related to timber harvests. The Forest Accord reached by 13 conservation groups (including Umpqua Watersheds) and 13 timber industry groups gives us hope that progress can be made in improving the Oregon Forest Practices Act which provides some of the weakest environmental protections on the west coast and pacific northwest.
One of the coalitions we really enjoy working with is the Forest Waters Coalition (www.forestwaters.org). It is a leading group that is influencing state and federal policy and serves as a model for how environmental organizations can work together to accomplish positive things for our ecosystems. Their mission is to “To build public support for and secure increased protections for Oregon’s private and state-owned forestlands for the benefit of fish, wildlife, water, people, and communities, including frontline communities most impacted by poor forest practices.”
The Forest Waters Coalition includes 22 local and state-wide organizations: 350 PDX, Audubon Society of Portland, Beyond Toxics, Cascadia Wildlands, Friends of Breitenbush, Cascades Institute for Fisheries Resources, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands, North Coast Communities for Watershed Protection, Northwest Guides and Anglers, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Oregon Wild, Our Forests, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Rogue Riverkeeper, Trout Unlimited, Tualatin Riverkeepers, Umpqua Watersheds, Wild Salmon Center, Willamette Riverkeeper and the Williams Community Forest Project.
Another very important coalition Umpqua Watersheds is involved in is the Pacific Northwest Forest Climate Alliance (www.forestclimatealliance.org). This group was instrumental in helping to get the Oregon Board of Forestry to approve the first ever Climate Change and Carbon Plan. The plan includes:
- Longer logging rotations,
- Deferring harvest in the mid-term,
- Incentivizing climate-smart practices for private landowners,
- Shaping forest policies through the lens of social justice and equity,
- Identifying and protecting climate refugia,
- Using the Oregon Global Warming Commission’s Natural and Working Lands Proposed sequestration goals to guide the Department,
- Revising the Oregon Forest Practices Act to better prioritize climate change,
- Restoring ecological function when managing forests for increased wildfire severity and develop a prescribed fire program within the Department.
- Incorporating climate change into the Forest Management Plan (FMP) process, including through:
Extending harvest rotations;
Identifying areas that have high carbon storage potential, and establishing priorities for these areas that include long-term carbon storage; and
Establishing an Internal Carbon Pricing Process and using this to inform future forest management planning and decisions.
Pacific Northwest Forest Climate Alliance includes 47 individual organizations at the local, regional, and national level: 350 Eugene, 350 Washington County, 350PDX, Applegate Neighborhood Network, Bark, Beyond Toxics, Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, Breach Collective, Cascade Volcano Chapter, Cascadia Forest Defenders, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Earth Ethics, Center for Responsible Forestry, Clackamas Indivisible, Climate Action Coalition, Climate Justice League, Climate Reality Project, Coast Range Association, Crag Law Center, Deer Creek Association, Environmental Protection Information Center and Nature Rights Council (EPIC), Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology (FUSEE), Forest Web, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Illinois Valley Section Sierra Club, John Muir Project of the Earth Island Institute, Klamath Forest Alliance, Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Lane County Audubon Society, Lane County Mutual Aid, Metro Climate Action Team (MCAT), Oregon Chapter Sierra Club, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Oregon Wild, Our Forests, Rogue Climate, Sierra Club, Stop Fracked Gas PDX, Stop Zenith Collaborative, Sunrise Movement Beaverton, Sunrise Movement Eugene, Sunrise Movement PDX, Umpqua Watersheds, UO Climate Justice League, Wild Heritage Foundation, and Williams Community Forest Project
The last alliance we are extremely proud to be a part of is the United Communities AmeriCorps (UCA). UCA has been a fantastic partner for Umpqua Watersheds and our organization would not exist in its current form without the dedication and service of the young people from all over the country who have travelled to the Umpqua to make a difference in the lives of students by teaching environmental education. We work closely with the other host sites to mutually promote events and activities. Five years ago, Umpqua Watersheds started a three-day campout in conjunction with River Appreciation Day to celebrate the service of our AmeriCorps member. We then expanded it to include all current and former AmeriCorps members and program staff who are part of the United Communities AmeriCorps program. In July of 2022, we will host Camp AmeriCorps at the Steamboat Ballfield in the Umpqua National Forest and will incorporate a celebration of the restoration work conducted in the areas impacted by the Archie Creek Fire. This will be a major event that we hope will garner state-wide recognition for the Umpqua.
Working with alliances and coalitions are a key to our success. It involves much time, communication and collaboration. In the process we stay informed on the latest developments and issues and add meaningful contributions to the process.
As you can see, my friends, Umpqua Watersheds is thriving. We are doing good work together and making a difference in our community and for our beloved Umpqua watershed. We are small but we are fearless and relentless in our pursuit of our mission. Thank you for your support, encouragement and friendship. Please continue to support us financially and by volunteering. Stay safe and well. ~Kasey