14 ways you made a difference for nature in 2017.
It’s been quite a year. We saw our beloved Columbia River Gorge fundamentally altered by fire. We saw federal and state conservation funding sources diminished and delayed. At times this year, the future of the Northwest felt more uncertain than ever.
At the same time, we saw people from all walks of life stand up and take action for their environment. We were inspired to be bold. This summer we launched an audacious plan to conserve and restore the lands of the Columbia River region over the next quarter century. It’s still early, but through this agenda, nascent partnerships are unfurling into powerful forces for nature. With each new bond forged, each acre conserved, each river restored, we find new hope. Take a moment to review our greatest accomplishments in 2017, all made possible through your fearless support.
None of this would have been possible without the support of people like you.
- This year we adopted and launched our conservation agenda, a framework for science-based, community-driven stewardship. The agenda outlines objectives across five ecoregions that will guide our next 25 years of conservation work. In addition, we’ve established four-year objectives to make an immediate and lasting impact in conserving our most threatened and important places.
- We launched the East Cascade Oak Partnership. The partnership will leverage more than $100,000 in funding from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) to develop a collaborative plan for conserving imperiled Oregon white oak habitats in Oregon and Washington.
- In November, the Clark County council passed a $7 million bond measure to fund 10 conservation projects in Clark County over the next three years. This bond leverages $12 million in funding for parks, trails, working forests, and agricultural lands. The Land Trust established the project slate in partnership with the county, and we’ll be leading three of the projects while providing support on at least two others.
- In September, we purchased a conservation easement on 130 acres of the Justesen family farm in Trout Lake, Washington, effectively ensuring that the property will stay in agriculture for future generations.
- We had a banner year in conservation on the Southwest Washington Coast. The Land Trust conserved 137 acres across 3 properties on Long Beach Peninsula, 285 acres along the Chinook River near Baker Bay, 190 acres across Willapa Bay on Seal Slough, and 31 acres near Grays Bay in Wahkiakum County. These 6 projects include vital salmon and steelhead habitat, forests, and interdunal wetlands that support elk, bear, amphibians, and thousands of migratory shorebirds and waterfowl.
- In July, we accepted a 20-acre trade land in Chelan County, Washington. Trade lands are properties that generous individuals donate to the Land Trust so that it can, in turn, sell the land and use the proceeds to support its strategic conservation goals. Read the poem that one of the land donors, Orlien Becker, wrote as an homage to the land.
- This September, the Land Trust completed the decade-long effort to remove an old haul road from the banks of the Klickitat River. Together with partners at Yakama Nation Fisheries and scores of contractors, we removed 8 miles of asphalt and well over 170,000 tons of road fill. We planted more than 40,000 native trees and shrubs, constructed woody logjams in the floodplain for habitat diversity, and reconnected side channels to the river.
- The end of the summer project season also marked the completion of a five-year restoration project along the Elochoman River, located outside of Cathlamet, Washington. We used over 350 logs sourced from the property to create structures that will activate additional floodplain, provide pool habitat, increase habitat diversity, and provide food resources for fish.
- We supported projects on our properties led by partners, such as the Lower Columbia Fish Enhancement Group’s chum spawning ground restoration project on our Crazy Johnson Creek property in Wahkiakum County, Washington. This fall, the group excavated nearby springs to create groundwater seeps, ideal spawning habitat for chum salmon.
- Throughout the year, we worked with the Washington Natural Heritage Program at the Department of Natural Resources to develop a new tool for monitoring our conserved lands. The tool, dubbed the Ecological Integrity Assessment (EIA), helps ecologists and land managers determine where a particular site lies on the continuum from functional and thriving to degraded and ailing.
- In 2017, Columbia Land Trust founded a committee to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout our organization, and we adopted equity commitments. We recognize that we have been slow to elevate equity as a core value, and we are still at the beginning of a long journey, but we are learning and growing in ways that will make our organization stronger and benefit the communities we serve.
- We expanded our Backyard Habitat Certification Program (run in partnership with the Audubon Society of Portland) to Clackamas County cities beyond Lake Oswego, including Milwaukie, West Linn, Oak Grove, and Jennings Lodge. We celebrated a major milestone in that we’ve now enrolled more than 1,000 acres of urban habitat in the program. Certified program participants have planted more than 22,000 trees and shrubs on their properties in 2017 alone.
- We led many tours and volunteer events to connect people to the land. Tours explored Columbia Gorge pika habitat, coastal wetlands and plants, backyard habitats, and sandhill crane-filled croplands. Meanwhile, our volunteers helped us in the office, planted willow cuttings, cleaned up litter stranded along the Columbia River, and wrangled invasive blackberry, holly, and English ivy.
- We shared the stories of conservationists from all walks of life throughout the region with three issues of our Fieldbook magazine, twelve issues of our Moss e-newsletter, and our One River | Five Voices film.
Thank you again for protecting the nature of the northwest now and for generations to come. We’re well positioned to do so much more in 2018 with your support. Please consider making a year-end gift and renewing your commitment to the unique lands, waters, and wildlife of the Northwest.
We wish you health and happiness this holiday season and in the new year.