Greetings fellow estuary stewards!
The Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team (DERT) is dedicated to protecting the Deschutes Watershed in Washington State, because we recognize our dependence upon clean water, air, and land. We are an advocacy group representing a community that values abundant wildlife, pristine water quality, sustainable economic opportunities, and natural beauty. We serve as a hub where all stakeholders are invited to participate in creative and effective problem-solving together.
In autumn we traditionally come together as a community during our annual fundraiser. Sadly, due to COVID-19, this event cannot be held in person this year. Nonetheless, our dependence on you remains. We reach out now to ask for your financial support.
The myriad challenges we face as a region, as a nation, and as a species, can be used to sow division and animosity within our communities, or these challenges can help us to recognize the web of interdependence that connects all life, and inspire us to take action to protect it. It is up to us how we respond to these challenges.
While the crises of this year have disrupted our daily routines, it has not hindered DERT’s effort to restore the Deschutes Estuary and protect the Deschutes watershed. In fact, we have expanded our efforts. This year, DERT became an affiliate of the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and a member of the national Waterkeeper program! We are developing a new program with the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance to expand our presence in the watershed and eduace community members on watershed issues.
DERT’s first objective is to restore the Deschutes Estuary and remove the 5th Avenue dam in Olympia, Washington. We engage in public outreach to educate the people of Thurston County, and the state of Washington, about the benefits of a healthy restored estuary. For the past decade we have worked directly with key state agency leaders and legislators to encourage an honest and complete discussion about the issues with Capitol Lake, Budd Inlet, the Deschutes River, its tributaries, and the buried Deschutes Estuary.
Removal of the 5th Avenue dam and estuary restoration is the largest and most beneficial project to clean up South Puget Sound. The addition of 260 acres of estuarine habitat will support restored Salmon runs, sequester carbon, buffer Olympia from sea level rise, provide recreation and educational opportunity, and serve as a shining example of the immense benefits to be gained by estuary restoration projects. Most importantly, it will help rectify an environmental injustice committed by colonial settlers against Native Americans, as well as the occupants of Little Hollywood, who were displaced by the 5th Avenue dam.
With each year that passes, we grow increasingly confident the dam will be removed and the estuary will be restored. While removal of the dam remains DERT’s primary objective, we are developing a program to engage all stakeholders in the watershed and inform them of the critical issues of water pollution and water scarcity that threaten habitat, wildlife, and humanity alike.
DERT is partnering with Puget Soundkeeper Alliance to develop a South Sound Healthy Watershed Program that will expand our presence as we educate citizens on watershed issues, increase our volunteer base, identify restoration opportunities, and develop strategies for rehabilitating these ailing waters. Volunteers will engage in a variety of activities, including kayak and boat patrols, water sampling and analysis, and a pollution hot line. In addition, we will use drone and GIS technology to map the watershed.
The South Sound Healthy Watershed Program will have a profound impact on effective estuary restoration when the dam is finally removed. Of course, these activities require considerable financial resources if they are to flourish. Your support today will ensure that the South Sound Healthy Watershed Program is successful. With collective effort and sustained commitment, we believe that the Deschutes Watershed can be restored to a state that supports abundant wildlife and vibrant human communities. Every donation helps bring our vision of a vibrant watershed to fruition.