Year in Review: 2016 Highlights

November 28, 2016


The past 365 days were characterized by important on-the-ground work for watersheds in need, innovative research and advancement behind the scenes, and more individuals and businesses understanding and supporting our efforts to change the course of conservation. Here are 10 of our highlights from 2016:

We helped break a record. The Salmon River broke a record for the greatest number of steelhead spawners, 68 redds per mile, on a two-mile restoration reach. For the fourth consecutive year, the number of winter steelhead spawning in the upper Sandy basin, where we’ve been working for more than a decade, was more than 350% of that when they were listed as threatened in 1998. Spring Chinook counts were also up, at 40 redds per mile. That’s more than 200% the long-term average.

We enhanced an island. We implemented our first restoration action on Idaho’s Snake River. As part of the federal process for relicensing its Hells Canyon Complex, Idaho Power Company is working with The Freshwater Trust to mitigate the effects of the complex on water temperature. We increased the area of Bayha Island to narrow and deepen the river channel to improve fish habitat and lessen seasonal temperature increases.

And formed partnerships. The Santa Barbara Foundation, U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Google, Onset Computer Corporation, TREW Gear, Hopworks Urban Brewery, Campbell Global, Columbia Sportswear, The Meriwether Group and Patagonia became partners in protecting and restoring freshwater.

We built, planted, and monitored. Approximately 190 large wood habitat structures were constructed to foster spawning habitat, form deep pools of cool water, and provide off-channel habitat for juvenile rearing. Nearly 52,000 trees were planted to provide shade, filter nutrients, and sequester carbon. Staff monitored more than 80 acres and collected data on 70 project sites.

We refined our models, tools and technologies. Our data is documented more accurately and efficiently, thanks to our restoration monitoring going paperless. Our StreamBank Monitoring App was used to collect data at dozens of project sites in 2016, saving nearly a month in data entry and analysis. With this year’s updates, our project managers can now easily view performance metrics and gain insight immediately after a project is monitored.

We signed new deals with new landowners. We secured 39 new flow deals with 50 landowners. This means 75 total deals are now in effect with 160 landowners across Oregon. Millions of gallons of water are now formally protected.

We expanded our presence. The opening of an office in Sacramento, recognition in nearly 50 publications, the keynote presentations of President Joe Whitworth at national conferences, and the production of 12 podcasts and 10 videos, meant our work was out in the world more than ever.

And grew our base of supporters. More than 3,000 new people liked us on our social media channels – a 50% increase over last year. We saw a 16 percent increase in new donors. And The Headwaters Council, an advisory group of emerging business leaders who will help us drive the next generation of creative and networked philanthropy, was launched.

We embarked on special research initiatives. Thanks to a donation from Onset Computer Corporation, 14 temperature loggers were deployed on Oregon’s Applegate River. For weeks, the loggers sat underwater and collected data that will bring unprecedented clarity to how our projects impact river temperature over time. We also partnered with Portland State University to understand how drones could monitor restoration sites.

And received noteworthy recognition. The Freshwater Trust was a finalist in Imagine H2O’s California Water Policy Challenge and won Portland Monthly’s 2016 Light a Fire Award. We were one of 141 nonprofits included in Willamette Weekly’s Give!Guide campaign. Habitat Restoration Director Mark McCollister accepted the USDA Forest Service National Rise to the Future Award on behalf of the Sandy River Basin Partners for our decade of collaborative work to restore native fish habitat. The White House mentioned us in a blog about finding innovative ways to build climate resilience.

This is what impact looks like.

But these accomplishments don’t only belong to us. They belong to our supporters – the individuals, businesses and foundations that have made the above possible. We’re grateful for the continued support of many and hope you’ll keep us fighting for healthy freshwater ecosystems in 2017. 

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