Are We Doing Our Best to Restore Watersheds? Lessons from a 10-year water restoration strategy

By Todd Reeve and Robert Warren • The Solutions Journal, January-February 2015

For the past decade, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) has explored ways to make community-based watershed restoration more effective. Through the application of an unconventional, 10-year funding strategy, BEF has identified important challenges and has also explored solutions that may increase the scale of impact produced by watershed restoration initiatives.

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WHEN LOCAL SOLUTIONS AREN’T ENOUGH: A STRATEGIC FUNDING PARTNERSHIP TO RESTORE A LARGE RIVER SYSTEM

The Foundation Review 2103, Vol 5:1
By Pam Wiley, M.S., Willamette River Initiative, Meyer Memorial Trust/Tides Center; Ken Bierly, M.S., Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board; and Todd Reeve, M.S., and Kendra Smith, M.S., Bonneville Environmental Foundation

Until recently, however, relatively few grantmakers have entered into formal strategic partnerships with other funders and stakeholders aimed at achieving specific goals and objectives in a defined area of need. Such “collective impact” approaches to catalyzing large-scale social change, as described by Mark Kramer and John Kania in the Winter 2011 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review and other publications, have great potential to improve outcomes by aligning stakeholders from philanthropy, nonprofits, business, and government around common priorities, strategies, and measures of success.

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WATER RESTORATION CERTIFICATES: VOLUNTARY, MARKET-BASED FLOW RESTORATION

The Water Report, September 15, 2010
By Todd Reeve, CEO, Bonneville Environmental Foundation

Across the American West, thousands of miles of streams are chronically dewatered as a result of legal withdrawal of surface water to serve out-of-stream beneficial uses. Efforts are underway in many western states to support voluntary, market-based approaches to restore environmental flows to dewatered streams, rivers, and wetlands. However, funding available to support this work is not presently equal to the scale of the task. As one solution, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) has launched the Water Restoration Certificate® Program, which is the first nationally marketed, voluntary environmental flow restoration program. BEF provides a collaborative and innovative solution that promises to build a bridge between private sector urban water users and environmental flow restoration needs in the rural West.

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RESTORING THE KOOTENAI RIVER VALLEY

The NW Magazine
By Robin Jenkinson and Todd Reeve

Early European settlers to the Pacific Northwest encountered a landscape teeming with natural bounty. The region’s mountains, streams, and forests appeared so vast that many believed a new wave of settlement and industry couldn’t possibly affect the seemingly inexhaustible populations of fish and wildlife. Nevertheless, the settlers brought with them a new land use ethic that fundamentally altered Pacific Northwest ecosystems and disrupted many of the productive habitats that supported abundant fish and game. Although the region’s flora and fauna had coexisted with Native American societies for millennia, in just over 150 years many species would verge on extinction.

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HARNESSING A VOLUNTARY MARKET TO RESTORE FLOW TO DEWATERED RIVERS AND STREAMS

Global Water Forum Discussion Paper 1230, August 2012
By Todd Reeve, CEO, Bonneville Environmental Foundation

This article examines a water restoration certificate scheme that aims to restore flows to dewatered rivers and streams through a voluntary offset market. The author argues that the scheme can provide a stable funding source to secure environmental flows, develop market signals demonstrating the economic value of environmental water, educate the public and encourage policy reform.

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BUILDING SCIENCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY INTO COMMUNITY-BASED RESTORATION: CAN A NEW FUNDING APPROACH FACILITATE EFFECTIVE AND ACCOUNTABLE RESTORATION?

Fisheries.org, January 2006
By Todd Reeve, Jim Lichatowich, William Towey, Angus Duncan

In 2004, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) reviewed the results of its first five years of watershed restoration funding in the Pacific Northwest states of Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. We examined completed restoration projects, interviewed watershed managers, and reviewed past project proposals to determine if BEF’s conventional one to two-year grants were promoting accountable, scientific, and watershed-scale restoration. Our evaluation indicated that BEF’s short-term funding was likely to promote site-specific interventions and discourage rigorous, sustained monitoring and a watershed-scale approach. In an effort to advance accountable and increasingly effective restoration, BEF developed and is now applying an experimental long-term funding approach. We present this new approach in order to stimulate discussion and propose an alternate funding policy that might enhance the region’s ability to effect watershed-scale restoration.

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A LONG-TERM, MONITORING-INTENSIVE APPROACH TO PACIFIC NORTHWEST WATERSHED RESTORATION

Ecological Restoration, Volume 25: Issue 1; March 2007
By Todd Reeve, CEO, Bonneville Environmental Foundation

The Pacific Northwest region is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to restore watershed ecosystems and recover diminishing populations of native salmon and trout. However, there is much debate regarding whether current restoration methods are capable of producing desired ecological improvements (Roni and others 2002). The scientific community has long advocated that the region establish watershed-scale restoration strategies and apply the monitoring and evaluation systems necessary to facilitate an adaptive, results-based approach (Roper and others 1997). Unfortunately, widespread application of these recommendations has not yet occurred (Bolton and others 2002).

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MOVING TOWARD COMPREHENSIVE RESTORATION: KEY LEARNINGS FROM THE 2012 MODEL WATERSHED PARTNER GATHERING

June 2012
By Bonneville Environmental Foundation

In the early 2000s, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) began to test a new approach to supporting community-based organizations doing watershed restoration around the West. It was in this spirit of making connections and sharing information that BEF convened a gathering of all 16 of the organizations currently participating in the Model Watershed Program. This white paper is a narrative account of the experiences shared by Model Watershed Program participants during the gathering.

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