WSC May 3rd Meeting

WSC News - May 3rd Meeting

Speaker: Phil Davis, Hoh River Trust

Time: 7:30 PM

Place: UW Horticulture Center

Title: Overview of the Hoh River Trust

About the Trust: The Hoh River Trust was formed in February 2004 by Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) and the Wild Salmon Center to own and manage river lands along the Hoh River on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula with an objective to conserve, restore, and enhance these lands for the benefit of the dependent species, including healthy salmon and steelhead runs along with listed ESA species including marbled murrelet, spotted owl, bald eagle, and bull trout. Within this mission we will also pursue community and educational outreach. This will be a legacy that not only benefits the targeted ecosystem and local community, but contributes to a broader understanding of the viability of healthy river systems elsewhere.

Using bridge financing from private foundations, WRC to date has acquired approx. 4,700 acres of commercial timber lands valued at over $8.7mm from Rayonier Corp. within a 10,000 acre corridor extending from the western boundary of Olympic National Park to the Pacific Ocean. Hoh River Trust subsequently acquired from WRC approx. 3,500 of those acres for $6.5mm funded by grants from the State of Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) as a part of their allocation of federal funds under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act. The Trust is awaiting an additional grant from WDNR of $2.2mm to acquire the remaining 1,200 acres held by WRC. WRC is also actively negotiating the purchase of an additional 2,500 acres which would bring the total acquired lands to approx. 7,200 acres, over 70% of the available land within the 10,000 acre corridor. WRC will need to arrange bridge financing of approx. $5mm to complete this transaction.

The Trust has contracted with the Cascade Land Conservancy to develop a comprehensive Land Management Plan on the Trust’s initial ownership of up to 4,700 acres. The plan will be completed in 2006 and include specific strategies to:
• Identify and prioritize a list of immediate restoration activities, including tree thinning, replanting, invasive weed control, road and culvert repair and maintenance, access improvements, habitat restoration, and more;
• Seek input from local and regional community members;
• Begin meaningful restoration activities, utilizing local contractors where possible;
• Monitor fish-population responses over time to restoration activities, utilizing baseline data from Wild Salmon Center;
• Develop a long term schedule to monitor and assess the effectiveness of restoration and stewardship activities relative to the goal of returning the river and its riparian habitats to their naturally evolving condition.

The Hoh River Trust is committed to working closely with local communities on the Olympic Peninsula, meaningfully engaging them in our planning, restoration, and stewardship activities. These are the communities that rely on the Hoh River for livelihood and recreation, communities that know and love the river best. Creating a sense of ownership among local and regional communities will be vital to the success of this initiative.

To keep our stewardship grounded in the best science and management practices, we have hired a professional land management and stewardship staff with extensive experience in habitat restoration, forestry, fisheries, and project management, and we are developing dynamic relationships with regional fish and wildlife conservation-organizations, management agencies, and academic researchers.
About the River: The chance to preserve the Hoh River is truly a unique conservation opportunity; it is a last great American river. With over 250,000 rivers in the continental US, the Hoh is one of the very few that remains virtually intact from it source high in the Olympic mountain range draining 56 miles into the Pacific Ocean. The upper watershed is pristine; twenty five miles of the river and its upper tributaries are protected within Olympic National Park, flowing cold and clear across gravel bars and under towering old growth forests. Over 140 inches of rain a year feeds the river and sustains one of the planet’s last intact temperate rainforests.

The lower mainstem winds for 30 miles through a mosaic of government, commercial timber, private, and Native lands. While some tributaries in the lower watershed have been impacted by timber activities, the mainstem and its broad floodplain have escaped development pressure. No major levees constrain the river, and a network of channels braid back and forth between massive logjams, across gravel bars, through timbered floodplains, and under emerald cathedrals of giant spruce and cedar, furnished in vine maple, hanging mosses, sorrel, and fern.

From its source 8,000 feet high on Mt. Olympus to the Pacific Ocean, the Hoh flows its entire length as it has for thousands of years, supporting a remarkable diversity of wildlife. Northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, and bald eagle nest in snags along the river and its floodplain. Deer, Roosevelt elk, black bear, cougar, fox, and other mammals browse and hunt in the surrounding forest. Thousands of adult salmon spawn in the Hoh’s clean gravel, while countless juveniles rear and feed under logjams and in shaded, rich, sinuous back channels. The Hoh supports populations of resident cutthroat and rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and Threatened bull trout; the river gathers some of the healthiest native salmon and steelhead runs in the US outside of Alaska. The Hoh has no permanent hatcheries, and almost all the salmon and steelhead returning to the Hoh are wild.

The Hoh River Trust can assure that almost 90% of the entire Hoh ecosystem is protected from unwanted development, where the dependent species can thrive in an undisturbed and naturally evolving habitat, and where people can continue to enjoy the ecological bounty, leaving a legacy of pristine wilderness for future generations.

Biography: Phil received a degree in Economics from Stanford University in 1980,
and followed that with a successful 25-year business career, including
tenures at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and a family ownedregional electrical-supply distributor in Seattle, Stusser Electric Company.
In 2000 he joined HouseValues Inc. to lead this early stage Internet
start-up as Executive Vice President of Finance & Operations, helping
tobuild the organizational and financial foundation for one the region's
mostsuccessful new businesses. Phil most recently was Vice President at
Savers, Inc., North America's largest for-profit thrift store chain.

Phil decided to change course and accept the position at Hoh River
Trust in the summer of 2005 by an informed passion for rivers, fish, and
wildlife, and by a deep confidence in the mission and strategies of the
organization."I'm thrilled to be part of this team," says Phil. "This opportunity to help leave a lasting legacy for the environment and the community is very meaningful to me and my family."

Phil will be primarily responsible for development and for the administration and oversight of the Trust's Peninsula based
land-management operations. Phil is a fly fisherman and river lover. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife, 3 sons and 2 dogs.

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