Washington State Director
Mike Stevens became the Washington State Director for The Nature Conservancy on Nov. 26, 2012. Here Mike takes a look at what’s in store for 2013:
I’m truly thrilled to be at the helm of the Conservancy’s Washington chapter at this pivotal point in time.
The people of Washington, from ordinary citizens to businesses to governmental leaders, have an outstanding track record of protecting and restoring nature. Being passionate about our natural heritage – our treasured landscapes and wildlife – is part of the fabric of our culture and our shared values.
The Nature Conservancy is committed to working with people of all sorts to understand our natural environment and what it means to us all, and to give everyone tangible opportunities to participate as an advocate, volunteer or funder. The Conservancy leads by creating powerful collaborations – bringing different talents and perspectives around the table to solve problems.
Your continuing support is crucial for us to succeed in this vital work.
In Puget Sound, we’re building from the success of restoration projects in the Skagit Delta and at the mouth of the Stillaguamish River to launch the Farms, Fish and Flood initiative, bringing together farming, conservation and local government interests to advance salmon recovery, flood risk reduction and farmland protection in Skagit County. We’re working with local, regional and federal partners to guide restoration efforts in floodplains all over the Sound to reduce storm threats to people, while at the same time improving water quality, habitat and supporting Puget Sound’s recovery.
The state Legislature has an opportunity in the upcoming Legislative session to fund projects to reduce toxic runoff in communities around Puget Sound, so that the biggest source of pollution can be stopped from entering the Sound. The Conservancy is part of the Environmental Priorities Coalition advocating for this funding and other programs that will help our environment.
On the coast, we’ve developed sustainable forestry practices that support local jobs by restoring the diversity of old-growth forests and improving habitat for salmon. The Conservancy is assisting in restoration efforts at the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge by conducting forestry operations that aim to improve forest health. We’re deeply engaged with coastal tribes in river and marine restoration, assisting the Quinault in restoring salmon habitat through engineered logjams and piloting projects remove derelict fishing gear and crab pots from the length of the Washington Coast. We’ve led the creation of a Washington Coast Marine Advisory Council to give local communities a voice on marine and coastal management. Now we’re taking that work to an international scale, transforming forest management and how we engage with local communities across 70 million acres of temperate rainforest from Alaska through Canada and into Washington.
In central and eastern Washington, we’re working with partners in collaborative forest restoration efforts that are just starting to pay off. Wildfires, insect infestation and climate change don’t recognize property lines. We helped establish the Tapash Sustainable Forests Collaborative with other major landowners like the U.S. Forest Service, the Yakama Nation, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Natural Resources to improve management on 1.6 million acres of forests, and now we’re helping to launch new forest collaboratives to reach millions more acres in Washington. A new Washington Prescribed Fire Council will help land managers use the important tool of controlled burning to treat these forests. The federal government and local communities are recognizing that the costs of treating forests are much less than the costs of fighting wildfires, and the benefits of a healthy forest go far beyond just fewer fires—they mean better air quality, better water quality, better recreation opportunities and a better quality of life.
Now is the time to go big – to dramatically scale up our conservation efforts. We have tremendous opportunities to turn the corner on many of the challenges we face. I am confident that, with your continued support, the Conservancy is poised to lead efforts that will make a real difference in our region. And for a taste of our 2012 accomplishments, see our Year in Review, too!January 07, 2013