2015: Year in Review

Posted by Renee Magyar on December 18, 2015

We are proud to celebrate another great year of building strong rural economies and healthy ecosystems in the Northwest!


Here are a few highlights from 2015:

Boosting the growing Western Juniper market

Photo by Marcus Kauffman
Photo by Marcus Kauffman

We had a successful turn in Salem this summer, when we helped pass two complementary bills that will control the spread of native invasive Western Juniper and support new jobs and commercial markets for the wood. As managers of the Western Juniper Alliance, Sustainable Northwest wrote and advocated for both bills totalling $1.15 million. The funding will support cooperative efforts between businesses, agencies, and NGOs to improve the Juniper supply chain and grow the industry, as well as provide working capital, technical and business assistance for Juniper sawmills and entrepreneurs, and training programs for workforce development to ensure that jobs in the Juniper industry benefit rural communities suffering from high unemployment and poverty. The state funding will also support the mapping of Juniper habitat to identify a sustainable supply for industry needs and environmental benefit, as well as inform future public and private land management needs. This effort has been so successful, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley paid us a visit.

FSC® sales are booming and we’ve been awarded the 2015 FSC Leadership Award

Photo by Cipriana Thompson;

Our FSC Group Certification program members reported over $11 million in sales of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) certified wood in 2015. That's nearly double the $6 million in sales that were reported in 2014. And not only did sales increase, member businesses added 112 new jobs across Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, and Montana, totaling 989 wood product manufacturing jobs, up from 877 in the previous year. All of these numbers add up to healthier Northwest forests. To be eligible for certification, forest managers must adhere to strict regulations related to chemical use, harvest, riparian zone protection, habitat conservation, water quality, and worker safety. Businesses further along the supply chain are also required to follow regulations for product tracking to ensure authentic certified products reach the market.

In recognition of our commitment to making certification possible for dozens of companies in the Northwest, Sustainable Northwest was proud to receive the 2015 FSC Leadership Award.

New John Day Partnership and award nomination within only one year of operation

Last year we helped create the John Day Basin Partnership, a diverse group of 22 local stakeholders working together to increase the pace, scale, and quality of landscape-scale watershed restoration efforts in the basin. The group is developing a comprehensive restoration plan and leveraging it to secure the funding necessary to meet restoration needs. After only one year in operation, the group was one of six collaboratives nominated by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board for the Outstanding Partnership for 2015. While the award ultimately went to a partnership in the Upper Willamette Basin, this nomination is a testament to the hard work and unity of this new diverse group. Sustainable Northwest is honored to be able to work with such a strong group of champions for their community, and we look forward to continued progress and more success in the future.

Capacity building in the High Divide and Southern Crown of the Continent regions of Idaho and Montana

Photo by US Forest Service
Photo by US Forest Service

In partnership with four organizations in Montana and a funder in Seattle, Sustainable Northwest created an opportunity for community-based organizations in the High Divide and Southern Crown of the Continent regions of Idaho and Montana to enhance their organizational capacity. This initiative was designed to assess the operational gaps of participating organizations, provide training in those areas of need, and provide catalytic funding for lasting solutions that work for the people and the land in this ecologically critical region. All of the participants reported that the program was a complete success and had great things to say, like: “It’s hard to imagine where we’d be if we hadn’t had your help.” and “Some of the projects would still just be conversations right now, if not for the additional capacity.” Their success is a boon for the region and we are so happy to have played a key role in making it happen.

We are ‘Making Energy Work for Rural Oregon’ 

Photo by Gorge Owned
Photo by Gorge Owned

We are halfway through our Making Energy Work for Rural Oregon workshop series, and are already seeing community-driven solutions for a clean energy future. As a result of the first workshop, the community of Talent will develop a clean energy action plan, decrease residential energy use and costs, and install solar panels on the new community center roof or other public facilities. Hood River and John Day created equally ambitious and inspiring goals for the coming year. 

We helped raise $230,000 for the Klamath Tribes

The Klamath Tribes were awarded two grants this fall, totaling over $230,000 from the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs Energy and Mineral Development Program. The grants will fund feasibility studies for biomass and solar development projects, which would poise the Tribes for the creation and use of renewable energy, as well as the creation of upwards of 35 living-wage jobs. Sustainable Northwest is honored to have played a critical role in writing the applications for both grants, and we are very pleased with the awards.

#1 small non-profit to work for in Oregon

Sustainable Northwest received the honor of the “#1 Best Small Nonprofit to Work for in Oregon” by Oregon Business magazine. We are so proud to serve rural communities and healthy landscapes in the Northwest. More than 150 Oregon nonprofits participated, and Sustainable Northwest ranked at the top among 32 other small nonprofits in Oregon. A big thanks to all of our supporters who make our work possible, and to all of the nonprofits in Oregon that make our state a great place to live and thrive!  

This caliber of work is made possible with generous support from individuals like you. Thank you for being an important part of a healthy and vibrant Northwest, and we ask you to please make a contribution today to ensure this important work continues to benefit the places you love. Thank you!