M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust funds two new positions in Idaho

June 26, 2017

PORTLAND – The Freshwater Trust (TFT) received $355,000 from M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to fund two new full-time staff members in Idaho.

Awarded in May, the grant allows TFT to hire one new program manager and one new analyst based out of the organization’s Boise office. These additions will double the number of staff currently working in the state.

The Portland-based nonprofit’s expansion into Idaho in 2015 was inspired by a collaboration with Idaho Power Company (IPC) to restore the Snake River, the largest tributary to the Columbia River. The Snake supports vibrant agricultural lands and recreational activities as well as salmon, steelhead and white sturgeon populations. The new manager and analyst will support this program’s continued growth and cultivate other Boise-area partnerships.

“This added capacity will allow us to continue overseeing current restoration and conservation efforts, open the door to new opportunities and tell more people about the benefits of this type of natural infrastructure program,” said Christy Meyer, Idaho Conservation Manager with TFT.

As part of the federal process for relicensing its three-dam Hells Canyon Complex, IPC is exploring mitigating the effects of the Hells Canyon Complex on fall water temperatures through restoration. Warm water from the watershed collects in Brownlee Reservoir and flows out of Hells Canyon. For a short period, that water is warmer than current state and federal standards allow.

Working with TFT, a restoration program has been proposed that is intended to decrease thermal loading to the river upstream of the complex and provide widespread environmental benefits for native species. The program will include planting native vegetation along key tributaries to the Snake, collaborating with irrigators to reduce agricultural runoff, enhancing floodplains and wetlands associated with the riverbank and existing islands, and even creating new islands.

This strategy differs from the traditional ways of mitigating the impacts of infrastructure, which often includes constructing manmade structures at the dam to reduce temperature impacts.

The analyst and program manager hired with this award will also help TFT identify more landowners to work with on new planting projects, track and report upon progress, and increase the level of outreach about this approach to regulators, regulated entities, farm groups and other conservation organizations.

Since its creation in 1975, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust’s mission has been to serve individuals, families and communities across the Pacific Northwest by providing grants and enrichment programs to organizations that strengthen the region’s educational and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Helping organizations build capacity and increase effectiveness are two goals of the Trust’s grant making.

“These two new positions will allow us to continue to be successful and efficient in our current efforts with Idaho Power Company,” said Meyer. “But they’re also helping us lay the groundwork for developing other programs like it with a wide array of partners in coming years.”

About M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest – Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington – that seek to strengthen the region’s educational and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. www.murdocktrust.org