Willamette River Initiative

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Building a path forward for Team Willamette

Kelly House's picture
By Kelly House - December 12, 2017

The Willamette River Initiative is in the midst of a transformation.

More than eight years into our 10-year commitment to support efforts to achieve meaningful, measurable improvements in the health of the Willamette River and its tributaries, our grantees and partners have accomplished much. But as a recent article in the Corvallis Gazette-Times underscored, our collective quest for a healthy river isn’t complete.

Summertime water temperatures throughout the basin are still dangerously warm for native coldwater fish. Toxic pollutants leach into our waterways at unacceptable levels, while invasive plants threaten to alter our native ecosystems. Floodplain habitats, while more abundant than when we began this work, remain too rare. Meanwhile, population growth and climate change are affecting our watershed in ways we don’t yet fully understand.

Tackling those challenges will take sustained investment and coordination well beyond March 2019, when the Willamette River Initiative ends.

So, together with our partners, we’re planning how best to support the next phase of the Willamette restoration and protection movement. We envision a stronger, more inclusive, nimble and community-driven alliance of Willamette River stakeholders, connected by an entity that provides coordination, technical assistance, and other services while advocating on members’ behalf for actions that support river health.

Our community has laid the foundation for this planning process over many years and many conversations. You’ll find some of that backstory in this grounding document, and also in this memo detailing our initiative's past, present, and hopes for the future. 

While our vision for this new entity is still taking shape, based on our experience and the feedback we’ve received so far, there are certain traits we know it must have. You can find a full list here.

Conversations with our community have also given us a solid starting sense of the functions this entity could perform and support services it could provide for the field. We've outlined them here.

We have convened an advisory group to help us make this vision a reality. Group members, who are listed here, have a wealth of experience in river health and related issues. Some are longtime members of the Willamette restoration community. Others bring deep expertise in related fields. All are passionate about building a river movement that is effective, equitable and sustainable.

The advisory group will meet several times in the coming months. We’re also planning opportunities for the broader Willamette community to help shape this new era in Willamette restoration, during spring and summer 2018. View our planning timeline to learn about opportunities to engage as we move forward.

We’ll post periodic updates on the planning process on WRI’s website, and share them in our newsletter. Subscribe to stay in the loop.