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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 13, 2008 at 4:16 PM

NW watershed protection and restoration

A lucky region

I was delighted to see the recent article on Northwest Watershed Institute’s Tarboo watershed protection and restoration work in Pacific Northwest Magazine [“One creek, on patch of land at a time,” Nov. 30]. The article by seasoned Seattle Times writer Warren Cornwall and photographer Alan Berner is a wonderful look at the beauty and challenge of trying to protect a bit of Puget Sound for future generations. However, though the description of our work as “one man and his band” may sound heroic, it is a far cry from how things are actually getting done.

While Northwest Watershed Institute has taken the lead in initiating and coordinating many aspects of the Tarboo watershed project, our success has come from strong partnerships with many landowners, as well as the talented and dedicated staff that work for more than 20 state, federal, tribal and nonprofit organizations. I only wish that the article had spread the credit around to those who richly earned it.

Chief among those deserving special mention is Jude Rubin, NWI’s stewardship director and botanist who started our hugely popular Plant-A-Thon, where hundreds of local schoolchildren and their parents raise money for their schools by selling honorary tree cards and planting thousands of trees at restoration sites every year. Sean Gallagher, who has worked in the field for NWI since 2003, helped with everything from the original stream habitat surveys to supervising restoration crews. Wonderful people with the Jefferson Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, four tribes that share treaty rights in Hood Canal, and numerous county, state, federal and tribal agencies and nonprofits have worked in ways large and small to help projects succeed.

A diversity of funding programs have allowed NWI to make on-the-ground progress. Key to success in wetland acquisition has been the Pacific Coast Joint Venture Program, particularly their National Coastal Wetlands grant program. The USDA’s [United States Department of Agriculture’s] Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Wetland Reserve Program is NWI’s largest of many restoration funding sources that also include the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries, Washington Department of Ecology, Washington’s Aquatic Land Enhancement Account, Jefferson County Conservation Futures Program, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Bullitt Foundation among others.

Having just talked with a biologist from Texas, I am extremely grateful that here in Puget Sound we have so many people and organizations working together to try to protect and restore one the best places left on Earth.

— Peter Bahls, Port Townsend

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