Federal public-private Whole Watershed Restoration project receiving national spotlight

Release Date: 03-09-2010

Oakley Brooks

Senior Media Manager
503.467.0779

PORTLAND, Ore – A unique public-private collaborative effort to restore watersheds in the Northwest has received a national award from the U.S. Forest Service.

The Whole Watershed Restoration Initiative (WWRI) has received the Chief’s Honor Award for its success in improving habitat for salmon and other wildlife. The initiative is jointly managed by Ecotrust (a nonprofit organization), the Forest Service, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Restoration Center (NOAA).

“We are pleased to be a part of this fine collaborative effort that shows what can be accomplished when we all work together,” said Cal Joyner, Deputy Regional Forester. “This award highlights great work on a regional scale accomplished by a host of public and private partners.”

The WWRI is focused on restoring entire watersheds – not just pieces of them – critical to the survival of Pacific salmon and steelhead and other wildlife. The WWRI directs funds and restoration efforts towards select watersheds and projects that provide the greatest opportunity for the restoration of native fish populations across multiple ownerships. The partnership started with six priority river basins in the Pacific Northwest identified jointly through the Forest Service’s Aquatic Restoration Strategy and Ecotrust’s conservation planning process.

Collaborating on watershed priorities provides for a more efficient and effective delivery of protection and restoration measures than would be accomplished without a regional approach.  Within the jointly identified priority basins, technical and financial resources are focused on activities essential for the recovery of natural watersheds including levee and fish passage barrier removals, road decommissioning, restoring and reconnecting river channels, water quality improvements, and community efforts to replant streambanks. This work builds relationships across public-private land management boundaries and addresses science-based restoration priorities while coordinating limited financial resources.

“We are extremely honored to receive this award from Chief Tidwell. This partnership demonstrates how targeting shared resources to areas of high ecological importance and where community support is high, we can restore natural systems much faster than when we go at it alone,” said Brent Davies, Director of Forests and Watersheds at Ecotrust.

In 2008, NOAA joined the WWRI partnership with a $1.2 million three-year grant. The Forest Service has contributed approximately $1 million per year to the partnership’s targeted restoration efforts. OWEB’s participation in the WWRI began early – in 2005 – and they’ve committed $1 million to the project. These federal and state investments are matched by additional resources provided by local restoration partnerships. Ecotrust serves as the WWRI coordinator and guides the implementation of the partnership’s strategic efforts.

The Chief’s Honor Awards ceremony will be held on Wednesday, March 10, at 6 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North, 5151 San Francisco Road NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico. The ceremony is being held in conjunction with the Forest Service’s March National Leadership Council meeting in Albuquerque.

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About Ecotrust
Over nearly 20 years, Ecotrust has converted $60 million in grants into more than $300 million in capital for local people, businesses, and organizations from Alaska to California. Ecotrust’s many innovations include co-founding the world’s first environmental bank, starting the world’s first ecosystem investment fund, creating a range of programs in fisheries, forestry, food, farms and children’s health, and developing new scientific and information tools to improve social, economic and environmental decision-making. Ecotrust works locally in ways that promise hope abroad, and it honors and supports the wisdom of Native and First Nation leadership in its work. More on the Web at www.ecotrust.org.

About OWEB
The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board operates a grant program with funding approved by Oregon voters. OWEB grants help Oregonians restore and protect rivers and wetlands, providing clean water and healthy habitat for fish, wildlife and people. By collaborating with citizens, volunteers and landowners in communities throughout the state, OWEB helps Oregonians to restore and protect our land and water.

About NOAA
NOAA’s Restoration Program invests funding and technical expertise in high-priority habitat restoration projects that instill strong conservation values and engage citizens in hands-on activities. Through hands-on restoration practices, partnerships and local stewardship, NOAA informs and inspires people to act on behalf of a healthier coastal environment. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/habitat/restoration/