Sustainable Northwest turns 20!

Posted by Renee Magyar on January 16, 2014

We are honored to have served the Northwest for twenty years, and we are eager to increase our impact in the decades to come.

It's our 20th year of creating innovative solutions for the land and the people.

In 1994, the Northwest was rocked by conflict. Big timber - the cornerstone of our region - came to a grinding halt. Our forests were in bad condition. Thousands of people in hundreds of communities lost their jobs. They blamed environmental groups, who in turn blamed industry and the Forest Service for the ecological mess. Lawsuits sprang up and millions of dollars were spent in the attempt to win a new war: jobs vs. the environment. In county after county, state after state, "us vs. them" prevailed, yet no one seemed to be winning.

One community invited us to step in and help. Talking with all sides, we pioneered the collaborative model. With our help, litigation stopped and they figured out a solution. Then another community invited us, and another, and another. 

The rest is history. We stuck around, and the bitter timber wars of the 1990s came to an end. "Collaboration" is now mainstream. Many collaborative groups across the West are now solving natural resource challenges and creating jobs to do so. We helped create a new paradigm: jobs for the environment.

In 20 years, we've done a lot. 

We founded two essential non-profits in Oregon: Wallowa Resources in Enterprise, and Lake County Resources Initiative in Lakeview. They are fulfilling the mission of sustainable economic and environmental restoration in northeast and southern Oregon.  

We founded Sustainable Northwest Wood - the only distribution yard in the US that exclusively stocks local species from sustainably managed forests.

We created the first FSC group certification program in the US, and we are the only group certification located in and serving small businesses in the Pacific Northwest. 

We brought more than 40 stakeholders together to craft landmark water-sharing agreements in the Klamath Basin.  

We founded the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition, a nation-wide network that promotes legislation for sustainable economic and community development, by and for the people and places it will serve.

We disseminated the use of wood biomass as a viable fuel and energy source throughout rural communities in Oregon.

And we will accomplish just as much, if not more, over the next 20 years. 

We will work with legislators to enact the historic agreements in the Klamath Basin, bringing peace and prosperity, and an end to a century-old conflict over water. Our work on water issues will deliver balanced results for wildlife, landscapes, and communities, where others can not.

We will make communities throughout the region more self-sufficient with their energy needs, creating "clusters" of renewable energy, where fuel is sourced and energy is produced and distributed all within a local and sustainable system.

We will keep litigation out of the picture. Lawsuits over federal forest land management disappear when we get involved in a community.

We will create innovative products and new markets for under-used forest and range resources, such as Juniper, turning further ecological restoration efforts into economic success.

We will expand access to FSC certification across the West - and make demand for local, sustainably-produced wood mainstream in the minds of consumers and producers alike.

This is just a short list of the tasks we have set out to accomplish! We thank you, dear reader, and all the rest of our supporters for your shared enthusiasm and passion for our work. Together, we are making our home a truly sustainable Northwest.

The Sustainable Northwest team on location in Idaho
The Sustainable Northwest team on location in Idaho