Coastal Watershed Institute Programs
CWI's goal is to advance protection of intact and critical natural ecosystems thru long term wise ecosystem management, mentoring our next generation of scientists and managers, and citizen partnerships. Over our careers we've learned that -without exception- what is good for the environment is good for community. We've learned that saving what we have is so much better for the ecosystem and economy-so we emphasize protection. As senior scientists, collectively we have hundreds of years of experience managing and researching the natural history of this region. We know that most of the community-which is growing rapidly- want to be wise stewards if they have the tools to do so. So CWI fosters community and college student education on wise natural resource management. We know that preservation and restoration can take decades-and that bureaucratic and political challenges (sometimes significant) are not reasons to quit. Our work is to link senior scientists, managers, and citizens to motivate for the best, not just the easiest, management actions and solutions. We engage college students, citizens, and landowners on the ground to understand how our natural ecosystems function and how to protect them.We specifically bring science to management in a rural, and sometimes extremely conservative, but ecologically critical region of the Pacific Northwest.
Recent funding cuts for natural resource management and higher education are creating a dangerous gap in our protection and wise management of our ecosystem resources. This makes CWI's work to promote wise stewardship of our ecosystems, including nearshore and shorelines of the Olympic Peninsula, critical. Our work is not easy. If we are to protect the natural resources of Washington (that are disappearing so rapidly) CWI must push now more than ever.
As the population of the Pacific Northwest grows and our economy continues to struggle, the need for CWI's work is greater than ever. CWI’s strong leadership in science and management, current momentum and strong local network, combined with the vanishing resources of pubic natural resource management agencies drive our direction. As both community members and regional scientists, CWI is resolute in our mission to make sure our natural ecosystems remain strong and an integral part of our society.
Three examples of our ongoing work:
- We coordinate the Elwha Nearshore Consortium, a group of scientists, citizens, and managers dedicated to understanding and promoting the nearshore restoration associated with the Elwha dam removals. Located along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the major corridor linking the Salish Sea and coastal northwest systems, the Elwha nearshore is severely impaired-and poised to undergo a world scale restoration associated with Elwha dam removals. The majority of the Elwha nearshore is within the city of Port Angeles. Our work brings leading federal state and non-profit scientists to Clallam County and City of Port Angeles managers and engineers to address ongoing challeges of managing an ecologically important, dynamic, and poorly planned city shoreline. Our goal is to prevent further degredation of fragile and critical Elwha nearshore ecosystem, such as shoreline armoring of last remaining feeder bluffs, and instead provide wise ecosystem management tools that cost less and provide more protection than outdated armoring techniques and optimize the nearshore restoration event now beginning;
- We conduct unique and critical research to understand and promote nearshore habitat function, and define how to protect the nearshore functions, including cross regional fish use of nearshore habitats, and the importance of Dungeness and Elwha feeder bluffs for surf smelt.
- We regularly sponsor community forums on emerging topics including Elwha nearshore science, net pen aquaculture, marine debris, and Japanese tsunami debris. The forums bring leading scientists to the community, including citizens, and local environmental college students.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
CWI's success are collaborative, and ongoing and include:
Due to CWI's almost decade long leadership work linking nearshore science with management, the nearshore component of the Elwha dam removals-a national scale restoration event-is now receiving badly needed management and scientific effort. For example, City of Port Angeles is working with agency scientists to consider the ecosystem services provided by, and 20th century management techniques for protection and restoration of fragile feeder bluffs of the Elwha nearshore. Citizens of the region are insisting that management actions be designed to promote preserve existing functioning habitat, restore areas that need restoring, and promote- NOT impede-restoration that will occur thru deliever of sediment to the city's shoreline.
CWI need funds for basic capacity, and to continue our various intitiatives including:
- Funding for ongoing Elwha nearshore restoration monitoring and community forums;
- Film collaboration to document this unprecedented nearshore restoration event;
- College student internships and mentor stipends;