Dear friends and colleagues:
Firstly, and most importantly, we hope you are safe and healthy during these frightening and uncertain times. While we know you are currently focused on taking care of yourselves and your loved ones, we wanted to reach out and share some news regarding some recent and upcoming changes here at the Washington Water Trust.
Water supplies for people and streams in the Pacific Northwest are facing unprecedented challenges—certainly unprecedented in the 22 years that Washington Water Trust (WWT) has worked across the state to keep streams flowing. These challenges – coming at us for decades – are intensifying due to a potent combination of growing human populations and demands, outdated water policies forged in the 19th century, and a rapidly changing climate. To meet these challenges, WWT is crafting new practices and approaches with our many partners, while remaining the leading local non-profit in conservation-oriented water transactions.
As we embrace these challenges, we are ourselves changing. Susan Adams, our Executive Director, shared with us her desire to step back from the day-to-day functions of Executive Director to focus on building important strategic partnerships for WWT as she also pursues other professional opportunities. The Board has therefore commenced the process to recruit a new Executive Director, as further described in the recruitment notice. In so doing, both the Board and the staff express our collective deep appreciation for Susan’s many years of talented leadership.
When Susan came to WWT sixteen years ago, the organization consisted of two employees. Since then, Susan has grown our working staff by a factor of 5, working in watersheds in all corners of the state. Under Susan’s leadership, WWT has rehydrated dozens of streams vital to the recovery of endangered salmon and steelhead populations and other wildlife while partnering with the agricultural community and cities and towns to balance often competing demands. WWT is not losing Susan right away: she intends to remain in a senior consultant role while we transition to new leadership.
Our changes also include the addition of several new and deeply talented members to our Board of Directors over the course of 2019 and establishing a new leadership team for the Board effective January 2020. Amongst the new Board members are Ms. Lorri Bodi (former administrator of the BPA’s Fish and Wildlife Program in the Columbia Basin), and Mr. Patrick Oshie (current member of the Northwest Power Planning and Conservation Council as one of two Washington appointees). Lorri and Pat join a slate of committed Board members ready to help WWT navigate upcoming changes and expand its reach. WWT’s Board leadership has also changed, with me becoming Board President; Dale Bambrick continuing as Vice President; Mitch Bateman continuing as Treasurer; and Suzanne Skinner stepping in as Secretary. We thank Rick Kirkby and Jim Anderson (formerly Board President and Secretary) for their leadership, noting thankfully that they will continue their excellent service on the Board.
Looking forward with enthusiasm, WWT will continue with our core business of augmenting depleted stream and river flows by purchasing water to leave instream in key locations. But increasingly we anticipate more complex water management strategies using a variety of surface and groundwater tools and programs to achieve both healthy streams and reliable water supplies for Washington’s people, communities and environment for generations to come. These “multi-benefit” approaches will by necessity entail broadened, locally- grounded partnerships of governments, business and community groups to make good things happen.
In closing, we emphasize that the health of Washington’s rivers and streams depends on all of us. We at the Washington Water Trust appreciate our history of successful work with our friends and partners, and we look forward to an ambitious 2020 and beyond. Please join us in exploring new ways to innovate and build lasting coalitions in support of a healthy freshwater future.
William Stelle, Board President
March 18, 2020