By Mike Stevens, Washington State Director
2018 was a year of tremendous progress and challenge for people and nature in our state and our world. We saw ongoing challenges like rapid urban growth, record-setting smoke from fires, orca deaths, and the increasing challenge of climate change. We also saw people from all backgrounds and all parts of the state working together to create solutions that benefit people and nature.
In 2019, the people of Washington and The Nature Conservancy must accelerate our work tackling the biggest environmental challenges. We must learn how to deepen our impact and grow our ability to work together across social, political and geographic divides. From forests and communities threatened by wildfire to our growing cities to coastal salmon rivers, we need to bring out the best of what makes us all Washingtonians – our creativity, tenacity, ability to collaborate, and our passion for our communities and environment.
Here are some headlines we would like to see in 2019. What milestones would you like to see this year? Send us your ideas in the form at the bottom of this post and we will share some of the best of them!
Community Leaders Create Spark for State-level Action on Megafires
2018 demonstrated just how devastating unnatural forest fires can be, damaging communities and hurting our health. Guided by science and community leadership, tree thinning, and planned burns can help restore forests to health and protect human health and wellbeing. In 2019 we will continue to work to accelerate forest restoration and community protection projects and we will begin to tackle what is now a major regional human health challenge: smoke from forest fires.
A Healthy Puget Sound Begins on Land: Private and Public Sectors Come Together for a Sea Change of Innovation
Can cities act as sponges and filters for polluted stormwater runoff? Can we grow our cities while also improving water quality in Puget Sound? The role of science and technology in solving these environmental challenges is critical. The Nature Conservancy’s innovative partnership with The University of Washington and pioneering technology firms creates a team of scientists who are laser focused on generating solutions that can work at scale. Using heat maps to figure out where green infrastructure can have the biggest impact is just one of the ways we are combing technology and innovation for big results.
Floodplains May Hold a Secret for Orca Survival
Seasonally flooded lowlands next to our rivers – floodplains – are crucial salmon nurseries and in turn are vital for orca survival. We have cut off rivers from their floodplains to protect farms and valuable commercial and residential development. Now, diverse coalitions around the state are finding ways to reconnect floodplains, enhance habitat and protect communities and farms. In 2019, we will work to support the state legislature in passing crucial funding support for Floodplains by Design.
Dollars and Sense: Washington Sees Economic Benefit of Climate Action
A majority of Washingtonians want to see action on climate change but remain concerned about the cost of climate policies for their families’ heating bills and gas prices. In 2019 we will work around the state and in Olympia to advocate for policies that create jobs and give working Washingtonians choices and opportunities in clean energy and transportation while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving our ability to weather wildfire, flooding, drought, sea level rise and other impacts of climate change in our state. Examples of practical solutions that benefit people and nature include investments in urban transportation choices, building energy efficiencies, and incentives for business and rural economic development.
Summit at Snoqualmie a Watershed Moment for Environmental Leadership
One of our greatest strengths is the diverse, passionate generation of emerging leaders in communities across our state. These leaders are from farming and forest backgrounds, urban and rural immigrant communities, and tribes. They represent the full diversity of our state and include many voices that have historically not been fully represented in decision-making. In 2019, we are committed to recognizing, listening and supporting these leaders. We can imagine a gathering at Snoqualmie Pass – which marks the divide and the connection between different parts of our state – to symbolize our collective strength and call for action to assure a thriving future.
What headline would you like to see in 2019?
Wild Salmon and other native fish at all-time high — Joanne Ross, Woodland
Citizens change their diets from eating animals to consuming more fruits and vegetables — Joy Gohl, White Salmon
Coordination with Thurston county group promoting a ‘farmlands protected for the future’ effort — Susan Ginal, Lacey
Local projects seek to address green jobs while addressing coastal hazards, public space and education — Jackson Blalock, Seattle
Watershed management becomes a priority — Sarah LeMaster, Duvall