2015 Conference Narrative Summary
The 2015 Fall Gathering was held in early November in Eugene, with a full program spread over three days. This year's event garnered over 250 registrants. Highlights included an opening keynote by Dr. Jane Lubchenco, an evening on the town with a showing of UPRIVER, an awards banquet featuring a talk by Don Stuart, a poster session, and three afternoon field tours. Attendees also had opportunities to participate in interviews with agency leaders, as well as panel discussions about statewide issues. The agenda included four tracks with training sessions focused on restoration, organizational management, outreach & partnership, and board administration.
Keynote: Dr. Jane Lubchenco opened the conference with a keynote focusing on her experience as a world-renowned environmental scientist and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She drew on a number of poignant, and sometimes humorous, personal anecdotes highlighting some keys to success for those working at the interface between society and natural resources. Her talk, which was well received by all, touched on climate change, the role of science in decision-making, and the important niche councils and districts play in implementing conservation.
Poster Session: An evening poster session and reception included over ten entries from councils, districts, students at OSU, UofO, & LCC, and other professionals. The event was well attended and also facilitated the conference's first opportunity for informal networking.
UPRIVER: On Monday evening, conference participants had the option to attend a showing of UPRIVER: A Film for the Willamette. Produced by Freshwaters Illustrated with support from Meyer Memorial Trust and OWEB, UPRIVER documents restoration along the Willamette - from the headwaters to Portland - and features key partners from state and federal agencies, land trusts, councils, and districts.
Q&A Sessions: Q&A sessions with ODA, NRCS, and OWEB offered agency leaders an opportunity to provide frank, high-level updates about program direction and field live questions from conference participants.
Panel Discussions: The Forest Collaboratives panel featured a broad presentation that highlighted the structure and funding sources of Collaboratives statewide, as well as the ground-level work of groups in the Willamette Valley. Participants included representatives from OSU Extension, Sustainable Northwest, OWEB, Oregon Wild, and Cascade Pacific RC&D. The Sage Grouse panel featured discussion of the biology and politics of Greater Sage Grouse restoration, as well as current statewide investments in conservation.
Banquet Speaker: Don Stuart delivered a timely and poignant talk about the importance of Environmentalists and Farmers coming to the table together to develop workable solutions to environmental issues. He contends both groups should work together to present solutions to policy makers at the state and federal levels.
Awards: Both individuals and organizations were honored for their partnership and dedication to statewide conservation throughout the conference. Awards were given by NOWC, OACD, OCEAN, OWEB, ODA, and NRCS. Details of the Network's awards are available online.
Field Tours: Afternoon field tours were available to attendees each day of the conference. Tours took participants to view trout friendly landscapes in the urban environment on Monday afternoon, to Berggren Farm on Tuesday afternoon, and to Kewanu Acres & Coyote Oaks to view wetland and oak prairie restoration sites on Wednesday afternoon. Full details are available online.
Concurrent Sessions: The conference featured over 50 technical training sessions organized around restoration, organizational management, outreach & partnership, and board administration. A full archive is available online.