Join us as we build a future for long-term investment in Willamette Basin river health.
With more than a decade of experience to guide us, members of the Willamette Basin river health community have shifted our gaze to the future. Together, we have designed a new Network to continue and expand the Willamette Basin restoration movement with a deeper focus on human justice and community wellbeing.
When the Meyer Memorial Trust launched the Willamette River Initiative in 2008, its trustees believed that sustained, strategic investment in river restoration paired with targeted action to strengthen and align the restoration field could spark unprecedented progress toward a healthier Willamette.
Fast forward to 2019, the final year of WRI. Our grantees and partners have accomplished thousands of acres of restoration, forged new partnerships to tackle problems too thorny or widespread for any one group to confront, and made strides toward building a more inclusive, equitable conservation movement that elevates the voices of Native Americans, people of color, and other communities most impacted by pollution, habitat loss and other river health hazards.
In short, WRI’s beginning theory has proven true. Learn more about the Willamette community’s accomplishments.
But 11 years is not enough time to recover from damage inflicted on our river over lifetimes. If Oregonians hope to leave future generations a Willamette River system that is swimmable, fishable and a reliable source of drinking water, we can and must secure the achievements of this initiative and its partners, while rising to meet new challenges.
And we must do so while confronting the ways our progress is hindered by systemic inequities within our communities and the river health movement itself. The next era of progress toward a healthier Willamette must include the voices of those who have historically been excluded from decisions about our river based on their race, ethnicity, identity, income level or other factors.
That’s why Meyer worked with our partners to build a new community-led network that will continue supporting regional collaboration for a healthier river. We envision a strong, inclusive, flexible alliance of Willamette River stakeholders, supported by an entity that can hold a shared vision and goals, provide coordination and offer shared services to the field, while seeking increased funding on behalf of partners, advocating for actions that make a healthier river possible and championing equity within the movement for river health.
We envision an entity more community-driven than ever before —
and with a bigger, broader community to drive it.
Meyer intends to continue to be involved as a partner. Our Board of Trustees has committed $1 million in funding over four years to help launch this new organization, and an additional $1 million in grant funding to support restoration projects on the mainstem Willamette River through 2022. Meyer also invites other partners and funders to join the network.
The foundation for this new network already exists.
Our dozens of partner groups work in close coordination toward common goals for the river. They are stronger, more effective and more collaborative than they were a decade ago. They have developed and deepened partnerships with municipalities, state and federal agencies, community-based organizations, private landowners and others with a stake in our river’s health. They have a proven track record of getting restoration done on the ground and a long list of shovel-ready projects for the future. And they are expanding their work beyond the restoration realm to consider the connections between river health and human health, community resilience, economic progress and more.
In short, they are full of momentum that demands continued investment. The Willamette River Network will support their continued progress. The future of our river is at stake.
Browse the documents that guide our process. We’ll add to this list as the planning process moves forward, so check back for updates.
Our community has been laying the foundation for this new entity for years, and we know you're curious about what we’re building. Here are a few things we know so far.