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Willamette River Initiative Overview 10 08
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Willamette River Initiative Overview 10 08


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  • 1. Meyer Memorial Trust Willamette River Strategic Initiative October, 2008
  • 2. Why the Willamette River?  Willamette Basin is home to 70% of Oregon’s population and generates 75% of the state’s economic output  Entirely in the state of Oregon, with its destiny largely in the hands of Oregonians  Population expected to nearly double by 2050; water will become ever more important  Not many local private funders contribute substantially to river restoration  Timely and ripe for intervention and leadership
  • 3. Big Challenges Face the River  Ecological  Institutional  Social
  • 4. Ecological Challenges  Water quality  Channel simplification  River disconnected from its floodplain  Loss of natural habitat/historic vegetation types  Flow modification due to withdrawals and reservoir operations
  • 5. Institutional Challenges  Many groups, some with overlapping goals, mandates and service areas  Some stretches of river not covered by local watershed councils or land trusts  Limited access to technical expertise  Lack of funds, funding not coordinated  Regional perspective & leadership lacking
  • 6. Social Challenges  Mostly private land, especially at lower elevations  Distrust of government by some landowners  Agency coordination issues  Population growth & development pressures
  • 7. Key Question for MMT What is the most effective role for a private foundation to play in this setting? What MMT wants, generally:  Impact & measurable results  Leverage with other funders  To catalyze action and a new level of commitment and collaboration  A national model for large river restoration  Something that can be sustained beyond its involvement
  • 8. Decision Process: Tighten the Geographic Scope
  • 9. Decision Process: Review Science  Willamette Restoration Initiative – Restoring a River of Life: The Willamette Restoration Strategy (2001) and the Willamette Sub-Basin Summary (2002)  Pacific Northwest Ecosystem Research Consortium – Willamette River Basin Planning Atlas (2002)  Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife – Oregon Conservation Strategy (2006)  Defenders of Wildlife – Oregon’s Living Landscape: Strategies and Opportunities to Conserve Biodiversity (1998)
  • 10. Decision Process: Engage Stakeholders  15+ Non-Profits  10 Local Watershed Groups  15+ Public Agencies  12 Other Funders  Scientists & Consultants
  • 11. What We Learned  The river is not a “lost cause”  Don’t reinvent the wheel – build on other past and current efforts  Don’t create a new organization  Be strategic: focus on identified ecological priorities & critical institutional gaps  A multi-year commitment is essential
  • 12. Initial Funding Strategies I. Mainstem Strategy II. Tributary Strategy Support the Oregon Watershed Establish a Willamette Model Watershed Enhancement Board’s Willamette Program Partner in partnership with “Special Investment Partnership” the Bonneville Environmental Foundation & community-based watershed groups  Focus is on channel complexity and floodplain/river connectivity  Focus on integrated restoration  MMT will contribute funds to  Require rigorous, long-term OWEB-approved SIP projects planning, monitoring & evaluation (up to one-third, non-capital)  Support capacity building  Support early development  Provide multi-year funding stages of “SIP-worthy” projects
  • 13. Mainstem Strategy: MMT/OWEB Partnership MMT will fund: MMT will not fund:  Restoration project design and  Land, building or engineering, some other “pre- equipment purchase permit” costs  State agency personnel  Monitoring & evaluation  Project management  Project documentation  Public education about the project  Up-front costs of land acquisition
  • 14. MMT/OWEB Partnership  MMT participates on the OWEB technical review team (TRT)  Funding roles decided after project is approved by TRT  OWEB administers main agreement, MMT references  MMT grants directly to implementing partner  Trustees approved $600,000 for 2008, $1.2 mm for 2009
  • 15. MMT/OWEB Partnership: Early Project Development  MMT takes lead role in funding  Projects still in development phase and not yet “ripe” for submittal to OWEB SIP  Surveys, assessments, early site design, outreach, technical assistance, etc.
  • 16. Initial SIP Projects  Willamette Mission State Park  Buford Park South Meadow  Bower’s Rock State Park  Others being developed
  • 17. Tributary Program: Background  Tributaries are integral  A solid base of assessments, components of the larger plans, institutional Willamette system infrastructure and relationships to build on  Tributaries provide essential  Impacts are more likely to services: key fish habitat, detected at this scale municipal drinking water, recreational opportunities
  • 18. Tributary Strategy: Advisory Group  Convened advisory group of watershed council, state agency and non-profit advisors  Conducted an assessment to look at other integrated approaches to watershed restoration (BEF, Ecotrust, NFWF Columbia Basin Water Transactions Program)
  • 19. Tributary Strategy: Advisory Group Recommendations  Foster and support a “whole watershed” approach to restoration, including long-range planning and rigorous monitoring and evaluation  Work in close partnership with local watershed groups to supplement and build capacity  Set high expectations for performance toward desired outcomes while encouraging adaptive management  Allow flexibility in the use of funds  Commit to long-term funding
  • 20. Tributary Strategy: MMT/BEF Partnership  MMT has entered into a partnership with BEF to provide program management and technical support; will provide funds to BEF for a “Willamette Model Watershed” program manager  Solicitation of Interest out, responses due November 7
  • 21. Background: The BEF Experience Short-term, project-specific grants often produce: •

Little incentive to evaluate results, maintain projects • Lack of results for rate payers, stakeholders, funders • Limited accountability—diminished public support • Little adaptive capacity • Investment in ineffective strategies
  • 22. BEF’s Evolving Model Watershed Strategy Measurable Objectives and Benchmarks : Set specific quantitative and measurable ecological restoration objectives at the outset. Evaluation Plan : Establish a comprehensive assessment and monitoring strategy upfront. Restoration Strategy : Identify a ten-year series of coordinated actions thought necessary to restore ecosystem processes and address causes of habitat degradation. 10-Year Timeline : Establish a timetable to guide systematic evaluation of restoration progress and adjust restoration strategies according to results. Scientific Review : Integrate regular review from an independent science team.
  • 23. Why 10 Years? • More consistent with the natural timescales of ecological recovery • Institutional, long-term partnership—added value • Reliable funding • Focus on outcomes and adaptive management—improved results
  • 24. Tributary Strategy: Details  From LOI responses & follow-up, up to six local groups will be selected to receive small grants to develop a 10-year watershed plan  Based on the plans, MMT and BEF will select initial grantees (3/31/09)  Trustees have approved funds to support two grantees in Year 1 and two additional groups in Year 2 (up to $125,000 each per year)  Committed to seven years of funding for the selected grantees, and are working to leverage an additional three years from other sources.
  • 25. Response to Date  Strong project interest from state, federal government & local and regional implementing partners  Improved collaboration  Spike in media interest in the Willamette  Interest from other funders
  • 26. Next Steps  Move forward with implementation of mainstem and tributary strategies  Continue working to engage other funders  Resolve long-term structure and support for the initiative  Explore other funding strategies to complement the mainstem and tributary strategies, such as:  Improved access to technical assistance by local groups  Projects that could have a basin-wide impact (e.g. science or policy research, supporting the development of ecosystem service markets and other incentives for private landowners)  Willamette gathering(s)
  • 27. Meyer Memorial Trust Willamette River Strategic Initiative Contact Information Pam Wiley - Todd Reeve -