Presented by the Willamette River Initiative and Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Within Our Reach is a biennial gathering of funders, river restoration professionals, landowners, public agencies, scientists, students and community members working to protect and restore the Willamette River and its tributaries. The Willamette River Initiative is a program of the Meyer Memorial Trust that aims to improve the health of the Willamette and its tributaries through strategic investments in science, restoration and increased collaboration among the watershed's diverse stakeholders.


2016 Conference Program

Thursday, December 8

7:30 am
8:30 am
Doug Stamm | CEO, Meyer Memorial Trust
8:45 am
Allison Hensey | Willamette River Initiative Director, Meyer Memorial Trust
9:00 am
Kathleen George | Tribal Councilwoman, Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde
9:15 am A healthy environment is vital to the wellbeing of all people. Yet even as demographics shift across the nation, communities of color remain underrepresented in mainstream conservation and environmental decision-making. Increasingly, conservation groups and natural resource agencies are asking the question: "How can we diversify our ranks and make our work relevant to a broader audience?" The answer is not a straightforward one, and it means challenging many long-held assumptions within the mainstream conservation movement about who uses and values the outdoors - and in what ways. During this livingroom-style discussion, three leaders in accelerating diversity, equity and inclusion in conservation will unpack the historical and present-day forces affecting participation of people of color in the movement. They'll draw on personal stories and deep professional experience to consider how conservation efforts can be relevant to and reflective of all communities, including ideas for us in the Willamette.
Introduction: Charles Wilhoite | Trustee Board Chair, Meyer Memorial Trust
Moderator: Marcelo Bonta | Philanthropy Northwest Momentum Fellow, Healthy Environment Program, Meyer Memorial Trust
Mickey Fearn | Professor of Practice, North Carolina State University School of Natural Resources and former Deputy Director, National Parks Service
José González | Founder and Director, Latino Outdoors
10:30 am
10:45 am All people have the right to clean air, water and land, and representation in environmental decision-making regardless of race, income or ethnicity. Yet by and large, the communities that bear the brunt of environmental harm - low income communities and communities of color - also face significant barriers to involvement in the decisions that impact them. Attendees will leave this session with a better understanding of the environmental justice movement in Oregon and hear from advocates working to advance justice in restoration planting practices and the Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup process.
Moderator: Robert Collin | Author, Activist and Retired Environmental Studies Professor
Cassie Cohen | Founder and Organizer, Portland Harbor Community Coalition
Virginia Camberos | Program Coordinator, Northwest Forest Workers Center
Laquida Landford | Environmental and Climate Justice Activist, Portland Harbor Community Coalition
During this interactive session, representatives from the Willamette Basin and Central Mexico's Rio Laja Basin will dig into this developing cross-border partnership and consider the possibilities for knowledge sharing and cultural exchange. The Willamette-Laja Twinning Project emerged as a result of the Willamette River winning the 2012 Thiess International Riverprize, a prestigious honor that came with funding to support the formation of an international basin-to-basin exchange. Despite differences in culture and limiting factors on watershed health, project participants have found common ground and new perspective through working together. Take part in a round-table discussion to help envision where the project heads next.
Introduction: Cristina Watson | Willamette River Initiative Program Officer, Meyer Memorial Trust
Tara Davis | Willamette-Laja Twinning Project Coordinator
Rosario Franco | Owner, R. Franco Restoration
AgustÍn Madrigal | Director, Salvemos Rio Laja
Much of our work in the Willamette Basin focuses on improving conditions for salmonids by pursuing strategies to keep summertime water temperatures down. But not all native species prefer cold water. Presenters in this breakout will review emerging science on the full suite of summer habitats -- from the cold water refuges and shallow gravel bars where salmonids thrive to the warm, slow-moving sloughs favored by Oregon chub. Presenters will highlight ongoing work to support summer habitats for a host of species and consider what the findings mean for the restoration community's efforts to support native plants, fish and wildlife.
Moderator: Rose Wallick | Hydrologist, US Geological Survey
Stan Gregory | Emeritus Professor, Department of Fisheries & Wildlife, Oregon State University
Brian Bangs | Project Lead, Native Fish Investigations Program, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Luke Whitman | Project Leader and Fisheries Biologist, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Troy Brandt | Principal Biologist, River Design Group
Norman Buccola | Hydrologist, US Geological Survey
In the high-energy Cascades, using large wood alone to aggrade stream channels and reconnect floodplains is not always quite the right solution. Presenters will discuss how lessons learned from past restoration practices in these systems and other Oregon watersheds have changed their approach. LiDAR analysis and field reconnaissance by multidisciplinary teams provide the foundation for projects that remove anthropogenic impacts from years past and aim to jumpstart recovery through a thorough understanding of system hydrology and biology. Presenters will discuss the design tools, the evolution of their approach and results from recent projects.
Sarah Dyrdahl | Executive Director, Middle Fork Willamette Watershed Council
Johan Hogervorst | Hydrologist, Willamette National Forest
Matt Helstab | Fisheries Biologist, Middle Fork Ranger District
Paul Burns | Fisheries Biologist, Siuslaw National Forest
Kate Meyer | Fisheries Biologist, McKenzie River Ranger District, Willamette National Forest
12:15 pm
1:00 pm

Willamette Basin Biological Opinion Progress and Learnings
Eight years into implementing salmon and steelhead recovery efforts under the Willamette Basin Biological Opinion, enough time has passed to step back and ask, "How are we doing?" We'll get an update on the US Army Corps of Engineers' BiOp efforts, including alterations to flows at Willamette Valley dams, hatchery programs, and upstream and downstream fish passage systems, among other strategies. We"ll also hear what Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife researchers are learning about salmon and steelhead populations as they pursue BiOp recovery actions.

Where land and water meet: The rich interconnections of floodplain forests
Much of the collective work on the mainstem Willamette River is focused on protecting and restoring floodplain forests. Yet, do we fully grasp the remarkable role these habitats play in our river basin - and beyond? What ecological surprises have we found, and what remains to be discovered? Through stories drawn from decades of research, Prof. Naiman will explore why floodplains are so productive in the face of constant change, where the food comes from to support the vibrant animal communities found there, and why the interplay of individual species matters.

Collective imagining: Science, planning, and our shared Willamette future
This is an exciting moment to consider the future of Willamette River restoration. In this talk, Prof. Hulse will introduce a number of important research and planning efforts coming online now and in the years to follow. Then, in the spirit of the "collective imagining" that is at the core of Within Our Reach, he"ll share a vision of the kind of synthesis that will be possible when these projects are complete - and what Team Willamette can hope to accomplish together as a result.

Moderator: Rose Wallick | Hydrologist, US Geological Survey

Willamette River Biological Opinion: Progress and Learnings
Greg Taylor | Willamette Valley Project Supervisory Fish Biologist, US Army Corps of Engineers
Tom Friesen | Willamette Basin Research, Monitoring & Evaluation Program Manager, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Where Land and Water Meet: The Rich Interconnections of Floodplain Forests
Robert J. Naiman | Professor Emeritus, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington

Collective Imagining: Science, Planning, and Our Shared Willamette Future
David Hulse | Philip H. Knight Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
2:30 pm
3:30 pm
3:45 pm How can nonprofits take collaboration to the next level? Sharing office space is a start, but nonprofits across the nation are starting to look for ways to partner beyond co-location. In the mid-Willamette Valley, four groups have been exploring the concept of a "nonprofit community hub" and are now conducting a formal feasibility study to see if this model would be a good fit for the region. Hear about the evolving partnership between Greenbelt Land Trust, Marys River Watershed Council, Benton Soil and Water Conservation District and Institute for Applied Ecology, and expect a lively discussion on the process and promise of next-level collaboration.
Michael Pope | Executive Director, Greenbelt Land Trust
Jessica McDonald | Associate Director, Greenbelt Land Trust
While native fish drive many restoration and conservation actions in the Willamette Basin, we care about a wide range of plant, animal, insect and amphibian species and the habitats that support them. How can we go beyond fish in designing and implementing restoration projects in floodplain forests? Using birds as a focal point, this session will explore the gradient of Willamette floodplain conditions that support diverse bird species. Panelists will examine how birds can serve as ecological indicators to evaluate the success of restoration projects and inform plans for future restoration, and they'll discuss new and emerging policies relevant to diverse floodplain habitats.
Moderator: Christopher Reidy | State Wetlands Ecologist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Jarod Jebousek | Fish and Wildlife Biologist, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Sarah Rockwell | KBO Research Biologist and Program Lead, Trinity River Project
Joan C. Hagar | Research Wildlife Biologist, USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Bob Sallinger | Conservation Director, Audubon Society of Portland
A safe, reliable water supply is essential to the Willamette Basin's people and industries, including manufacturing, agriculture, fisheries and our celebrated breweries and wineries. With projections of more than a million new residents by 2040 and uncertainties to our water supply caused by drought and climate change, protecting our sources of water becomes even more important. Presenters will share findings from the Willamette Water 2100 project about the major factors affecting future drinking water supply in the basin. And, two drinking water providers and their partners will discuss current and future strategies to protect drinking water in more integrated and innovative ways.
Moderator: David Hulse | Philip H. Knight Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
Karl Morgenstern | Drinking Water Source Protection Coordinator, Eugene Water & Electric Board
Rebecca McCoun | Council Coordinator, North Santiam Watershed Council
Patricia Farrell | Natural Resource Specialist, Planning & Development, City of Salem Public Works Department
Maria Wright | Faculty Research Assistant, Institute for Water and Watersheds, Oregon State University
This panel brings together experts in natural resource management and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) for a discussion on how ecological restoration practices can better support First Foods. Panelists will share insights from their experiences combining western science and TEK perspectives. They will highlight ways that a First Foods lens affects management considerations, from project planning to implementation, and how climate change and other factors are placing increased pressures on First Foods. The discussion will draw upon examples from diverse regions and include a range of species, from lamprey to elk.
Moderator: Gail Woodside | Ph.D Candidate, Oregon State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
Valerie Goodness | Ph.D Fellow, University at Buffalo
Samantha Chisolm Hatfield, Ph.D | Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Northwest Climate Science Center, Oregon Climate Change Research Institute
Frank Lake, Ph.D | Research Ecologist, US Forest Service
Ameyalli Manon-Ferguson | Leadership Liaison, Native American Longhouse Eena Haws, Oregon State University
5:15 pm
7:00 pm

Friday, December 9

7:30 am
8:30 am
Meta Loftsgaarden | Director, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board
8:45 am Almost eight years into Meyer Memorial Trust's 10-year commitment to improve Willamette River health, it's clear the community is succeeding in increasing the pace and scale of restoration in the basin. Restoration practitioners, nonprofit advocates, scientists, landowners and funding partners are more aligned in their goals and have made impressive gains. Together, we've planted millions of native trees and protected thousands of floodplain acres. We've boosted impact by sharing services and coordinating efforts. New partnerships have yielded innovative solutions to basin-wide concerns. Where do we go from here? Meyer's role in the Willamette will change in 2019, and the foundation is committed to a thoughtful transition that offers an onramp to what comes next. WRI Director Allison Hensey will share her current thinking on this transition and make the case for a new structure co-created with the Willamette restoration community to support and advance efforts to improve the health of the Willamette River System into the future.
Allison Hensey | Willamette River Initiative Director, Meyer Memorial Trust
9:15 am Following the presentation on what's next for the Willamette, weigh in with your perspective on what is needed to continue momentum and expand impact. Through robust facilitated roundtable discussions, we'll pose a series of questions asking for your input on the development of "what comes next."
10:45 am
11:00 am
Brock Mansfield | Managing Partner, Salmon and Steelhead Innovation Fund
11:15 am While stakeholders here worked to finalize the first-ever Willamette River Report Card in late 2015, a similar project five years in the making was coming to a close in the Mississippi. It's challenging enough to gauge the health of a river 187 miles in length, much less one that spans more than 2,000 miles across a watershed that touches 31 states. Harald "Jordy" Jordahl of TNC's America's Watershed Initiative will share his experience leading one of the world's largest report card efforts to date. He'll offer perspective on what it takes to collaborate towards shared values and metrics across a vast geography, both in a physical and cultural sense. He'll also discuss how the report card can be used as a communication tool and share key takeaways that will guide development of the next one - insights relevant to our own report card effort in the Willamette.
Harald "Jordy" Jordahl | Director of America's Watershed Initiative and Mississippi River Report Card project lead, The Nature Conservancy
12:15 pm
1:15 pm In the daily work of river conservation, it can be hard to make the time necessary to "tell the story" in an effective way. And yet, sharing the compelling stories in our work is essential to gaining new supporters, influencing decision-makers, fostering public awareness and attracting funding. During this session, experts in storytelling and strategic communications will help participants tease the stories out of their work and consider how to reach target audiences without working double time. Plan to leave with one ripe story idea and practical strategies to help your story get traction.
Introduction: Kelly House | Willamette River Initiative Program Associate, Meyer Memorial Trust
Cassandra Profita | Environment Reporter, EarthFix
Sarah Wilkinson | Account Manager, Brink Communications

The Willamette River earned a passing grade in the 2015 Report Card, but behind the B- are some failing grades that need our attention. In this session, panelists will outline the highest priority issues associated with water temperature and toxics in our basin and share findings from recent studies on these topics. They'll consider what strategies might be most effective in making progress on these issues and identify critical gaps that must be filled via data collection. The focus will be on producing a prioritized list of action items that will be shared with conference organizers and other stakeholders working to "raise the grade" on the Willamette's most vexing issues.
Stewart Rounds, Ph.D | Team Lead Hydrologist, US Geological Survey
Lori Pillsbury | Natural Resource Specialist, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Jennifer Morace | Hydrologist, US Geological Survey
Joe Ebersole, Ph.D | Research Fish Biologist, US Environmental Protection Agency
Much of the floodplain of the Willamette River and its lower tributaries is highly productive farmland. Finding shared values between the health of the river and its habitats and a thriving agricultural community is essential if we're to protect both over the long term. Panelists will share current policy ideas to advance the protection of farmland and habitat from the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Work Group, and they'll explore practical approaches to conservation on farms that provide value to both landowners and river health.
Moderator: Laura Masterson | Owner, 47th Avenue Farm
Peggy Browne | First Vice President, Oregon Farm Bureau and Senior Ecologist, Farallon Consulting
Melissa Newman | River Restoration and Invasive Species Program Coordinator, Benton Soil and Water Conservation District
Jay Udelhoven | Executive Director, East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
Stan Gregory | Emeritus Professor, Department of Fisheries & Wildlife, Oregon State University
Four collaborative groups are forging diverse partnerships in the Willamette National Forest to develop forest restoration plans and projects that benefit both forests and nearby communities. Representatives from collaboratives in the Southern Willamette, McKenzie, South Santiam and North Santiam watersheds will share the restoration activities they're pursuing, identify key members of these collaborative groups and discuss how their upland work connects to the basin's broader watershed restoration goals.
Moderator: Sarah Altemus-Pope | Coordinator, Southern Willamette Forest Collaborative
Nancy Toth | Environmental Specialist, Eugene Water & Electric Board, McKenzie Watershed Stewardship Group
Sharon Kanareff | Coordinator, South Santiam All-Lands Collaborative
Rebecca McCoun | Council Coordinator, North Santiam Watershed Council
2:45 pm
3:00 pm Often in this work, we focus on healing rivers through science, collaboration and action. Chad Brown's powerful story serves as a reminder of how rivers heal us. Brown, a Navy veteran whose four years of service included deployments to the Gulf War and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, emerged from his tours of duty into a struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. The illness nearly drove him to suicide before he found solace in fly fishing. Brown will share how his path to salvation and led him to create a nonprofit that shares the healing power of rivers with veterans and inner-city youth.
Chad Brown | Veteran, U.S. Navy, and Founder/President, Soul River Inc.
3:45 pm

Schedule subject to change.

View last year's conference program and speakers here.