Feedback: Johnson Creek Watershed Council
Re: CBB, May 6, 2011 “Study Of Portland Watershed Council Shows Disproportionate Representation By Wealthier, Liberal “ http://www.cbbulletin.com/408194.aspx
-- From Matt Clark, Executive Director, Johnson Creek Watershed Council
Thank you for raising the issue of representation and stakeholder engagement by watershed councils. It’s an important topic. Before last week, we were not aware of Professors Lach and Larson’s recent article and we appreciate having the opportunity to learn from their insights.
We would welcome further research in Johnson Creek Watershed. It would be interesting to see if and how Johnson Creek Watershed Council representation has changed over the years.
Since February 2004, when the surveys were conducted on which the professors’ article is based, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council (JCWC) has worked on numerous projects and programs with a broad and diverse array of people. In 2006 and 2007, JCWC staff walked the entire length of Johnson Creek and most of its major tributaries, surveying and treating invasive weeds.
In the course of this effort, approximately 500 private landowners, including many rural landowners in the upper Johnson Creek Watershed, gave the Council permission to survey their land. Over 200 landowners granted permission for us to treat weed on their property. During this time, we forged relationships with many landowners throughout Johnson Creek Watershed, and now are building on those relationships with our efforts to replant native forest along Johnson Creek and its tributaries.
This past March, we celebrated our 13th annual Watershed Wide Event, our signature volunteer stewardship event in which we mobilize hundreds of volunteers to pull invasive weed and plant native trees and shrubs throughout the watershed. As one of the JCWC board members wrote about his experience with the diverse volunteers at Watershed Wide Event over the years, “I have heard children translate for their parents at Clatsop Butte restoration, enjoyed the company of disabled individuals at JCWC events, conversed with student volunteers from the very edge of the socio-economic scale and marveled at the dedication of Oregon hunters to hands-on improvement of the watershed."
In 2009, recognizing the growing linguistic and ethnic diversity in Johnson Creek Watershed, we translated the JCWC brochure into Spanish and Russian. One of our staff members, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan who speaks Russian, visited and provided brochures to Russian-speaking businesses throughout the watershed.
In spite of our ongoing efforts, we recognize that we aren’t where we want or need to be in terms of broad representation and stakeholder diversity. The JCWC staff and board continue to seek information and develop strategies to broaden and diversify the types of individuals and groups with whom we interact and work. We are currently engaged in developing a five-year strategic plan for our organization. Last month, as part of our planning process, we convened a group of farmers and rural residents from upper Johnson Creek Watershed to discuss how Johnson Creek Watershed Council could be more pro-active in reaching out to the rural agricultural upper watershed. We are integrating the lessons learned from this discussion into our planning for the future of Johnson Creek Watershed Council. It is something we have taken and continue to take seriously.
Again, thank you for raising awareness about this important issue. It provides additional inspiration for us to continue to strive to engage the full spectrum of watershed residents, a goal that we have taken and do take seriously.
Johnson Creek Watershed Council