Umpqua Watersheds Blog

President's Corner

Spring 2018

Published March 7th, 2018 in President's Corner

Stan Petrowski

The onslaught against the conservation of the natural world is intense on so many levels. “Not to worry!” as the old saying goes. We are undaunted by the immensity of the task and greatly encouraged when steps are taken in the right direction.

This newsletter provides only a small sample of the work that is being conducted by the Board, Staff and volunteers. We continue to need your support. There’s no way we can do this alone.

Besides UW tabling the PIELC (Public Interest Environmental Law Conference) event this year, I presented on a panel related to beaver ecology. The rest of the Board spent time networking and learning at the event.

KQUA, Umpqua Watersheds’ radio station, continues to improve and evolve. We are learning the art of producing quality conservation and restoration content via radio airwaves. It is surprising to see what it actually takes to get shows on the air.

I travelled to Portland recently to interview Mike Miller and Tasha Thompson for an upcoming radio show. They are the UC Davis salmon geneticists who made the discovery regarding the unique genetic differences between Fall and Spring Chinook. They are continually facing pressure to keep this research from going public. Their work is of the highest standards and may well lead to protection of the Spring Chinook of the Pacific Northwest.

We continue to participate and support collaborative holistic restoration projects throughout the Umpqua. At a recent US Forest Service Town Hall meeting, we were informed that the agency plans to continue to focus on ecological restoration and fire resilience on the public lands. Firefighting is eating up a huge percentage of the agency’s budget. We support the efforts that are being made to create a completely separate budget for firefighting and allow the Forest Service to apply its appropriated funds to the tasks for which they were originally designated. Trails and campsites throughout public lands are woefully neglected because of the current system of fiscal management.

Another monumental task at hand is the challenge to our successful efforts for protections of our watershed over the last 20 plus years. Attempts continue to try to undermine NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act), the Northwest Forest Plan and a plethora of policies and rules that were put in place to prevent the incessant degradation of habitat that has precipitated the extinction of many species. The Anthropocene extinction is real and we humans are causing it because of blind greed and ignorance.

Forest ecosystems and downstream ecology continue to be adversely impacted by Oregon’s Forest Practices Act. For some reason there is a large constituency of people out there that feel private industrial timber land is some sort of sacred cow and untouchable. Pat Quinn (UW Vice President) and I continue to solicit funds to shore up the Summer Low Flow research needed to independently verify low flow dynamics outside of the experimental forests. This work is desperately needed. Pat and I will be attending a workshop at OSU in the coming weeks dedicated to the experimental forest findings. Forest managers and stakeholders are becoming keenly aware of the potential impact of this scientific discovery. We have reached the halfway mark of our fiscal need in this regard.

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Please consider a donation of any size in support of our work as soon as possible. Designate it to the “Summer Low Flow Study” to make sure it reaches its intended purpose.

As Douglas County’s conservation organization, we are buffeted by socio-political forces all the time. The community support of Umpqua Watersheds is not as widespread as it is for other organizations in larger, more diverse communities whose support base is supportive of environmental work. We are here in the heart of old-school timber country where the philosophy of extractive use of our natural resources has been energized by current political trends. That puts the burden of support on us all and especially you to be our community advocates. We are giving all we can. Won’t you consider empowering us to keep on keeping on?

Our Annual Banquet is coming up. It’s time to bring your auction items to the UW office in preparation for the silent auction. We are pleased that we are striving to be quicker to respond to your calls. Here are a few bullet points of areas that need our attention:

1.) It would be fantastic if we could have a volunteer step up and develop the UW and KQUA web sites. We have the software and content available. Another option would be to hire someone to do that work. If you feel inclined to help us with the sites, please send your support to the UW office with a note designating it to social media development.

2.) The KQUA station itself needs developing. We have room at the office to create a full-fledged recording studio and station broadcasting office. You can help by donating to that project.

3.) All of the committees are working hard to achieve their strategic objectives. The WOW committee’s Crater Lake Wilderness campaign coordinator, Robbin Schindele, is going full steam ahead with his energy and skills expanding the scale and scope of the effort. Same with the Education committee. Its needs are ever growing. The Restoration and Outreach committees need your active participation and donations. DC Parks committee is doing all it can to track the clear cutting that the county has been doing on our public parks. Their job seems endless.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of this work is mostly supported by your Board of Directors. Much of what is accomplished is completed by a few people that give freely of their time and resources in order to do those things needed to protect what is left of the natural wonders of our region. Please consider giving to UW, whether it is of your time and expertise to help with building maintenance, serving on an event committee, volunteering for various office tasks, or giving generously to the cause. We immensely appreciate the support that we have been given by our membership and look forward to seeing you at the banquet.