Sunday, November 9, 2008

25 Years of MRC Restoration Work

I have spent more of my years living here involved with the Mattole Restoration Council than not. From the first moment I was introduced to the Council, I was inspired by its roots as a community-driven effort to preserve and restore native salmonids. The group formed in the early 1980's in response to the effects of widespread logging. When I first moved to the Mattole in 2002, I became the MRC's "Resource Center and Development Associate", working primarily on grant writing, contract management, and outreach activities. I left my post to pursue my Master's in 2004, but joined the Board of Directors a year and a half later, where I've served as the Board Chair.

Last night, we were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Council. We dined on a locally-inspired meal of Wild Alaskan salmon, roasted potatoes and winter squash, green salad and apple crisp. We viewed a newly created movie called "Voices of Restoration". Kids performed a few silly restoration songs. We silent auctioned. We hob-nobbed. And we danced to the great gypsy-jazz tunes of local band the Absynth Quintet.

The MRC has grown over the years from a shoestring, project to project budget to a $3 million annual budget with 25 regular staff. Large, watershed-scale projects that were only a dream are coming to fruition right now, subbasin by subbasin, project by project. Beyond our historical involvement with landslide stabilization and tree planting, the Council now works in fuels reduction and fire safety, forestry, grassland restoration, public school environmental education, GIS and data management, and outreach. It's a pretty impressive list of activities for so small a community, that aims to address most pertinent ecological issues of our time, not only to restore salmon, but the interwoven fabric which includes all flora and interconnected fauna.

I often think of the first few words of our mission statement, which reads something like this..."We look forward to a time when restoration is no longer necessary..." I hope that someday this mission becomes reality, and that the land stewardship of an entire watershed will be supporting the long-term health of our river and it's contributing streams. I hope that someday, we can harvest our own Mattole salmon to feed our families through the winter, as the Mattole people did, and that our grandchildren's grandchildren may as well.

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