Salmon Recovery Conference Unites People, Place and Spirit

By Heather Cole, Puget Sound community relations manager

At first it felt overwhelming — but then it felt comforting to know that more than 800 people across Washington and as far away as Washington, D.C., were attending the 2017 Salmon Recovery Conference. A powerful story and prayer from Colville Nation tribal elder Darnell Sam shared that when each of us brings our best heart to our work, together we are medicine. Medicine that becomes stronger with time.

United in our work — and for two days, united in Wenatchee to learn, listen, share, re-connect and build new partnerships and friendships.

The Nature Conservancy in Washington's land and water teams stepped up and utilized this conference to share information from our own work in forests and floodplains.

David Ryan, our lead forester for the Ellsworth Creek restoration project,  presented his work at Ellsworth on creating old-growth conditions through forest thinning. He even versed the audience in logging lingo — so we could all keep up!

I convened a session on finding common ground — highlighting innovative approaches from north Puget Sound for bridging salmon, agriculture and flood interests.

Jenny Baker, our senior restoration manager, also presented in that session and gave an overview of the Skagit Farm, Fish and Flood Initiative and the hydrodynamic modeling approach to finding multiple benefits with diverse interests.

With more than 50 talks, 65 different posters and exhibitors and a wide variety of messages from plenary speakers, we all came away with a different “medicine.” After attending a session on storytelling, I was inspired to hear our own staff stories. Here are interviews from Dave Ryan, Jenny Baker, Darcy Batura, Emily Howe, Elizabeth Butler and myself on the most significant impacts they gained from the conference: