Washington Board Hits the Road

First-hand look leads to big vision for ocean and coastal forests

By:  Byron Bishop, The Nature Conservancy in Washington Board of Trustees Vice-Chair

Vision is rarely achieved sitting in a boardroom.

That’s why the Washington Board of Trustees took to the Washington Coast to experience the beauty and power of nature and learned first-hand of the threats to our natural environment, and our conservation work in the forests, rivers and oceans to counter those threats.

The Board is in the midst of setting goals and creating a vision for our conservation work in the coming decade.  In a July visit, we got a deep look into our marine and coastal forest work, and why it matters.

The marine and terrestrial worlds are deeply interconnected, and the ocean’s complex ecosystem affects the health of the shorelines and even the forest, we learned from marine ecologist Jodie Toft.

We explored the ocean environment and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary with our partners at NOAA.

We hiked up the Hoh River and learned about the importance of the area’s rivers and forests – to the tribes who have made the area their home for centuries, to the community and economy, and to the salmon, plants and animals unique to the area. 

Guests from the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and local tribes shared their first hand experiences working in the area, giving the board greater insight into what is at stake in this unique region.

We have a vision of summit-to-sea conservation.  Healthy oceans are fed by healthy rivers. Salmon in healthy rivers ultimately feed the forests around them.  Forests shade rivers, assuring cool clean water reaches the ocean.

The path to conservation and restoration in this region requires integrated, science-based focus and hands-on work in each area.  The risks are huge, the potential is huge, the vision is huge.

These are not the lessons of PowerPoint presentations in board rooms. These lessons, and the vision that springs from them, are best learned on the land and water which depend on us, and on which we depend.