Hood Canal awards honor local efforts to improve ecosystem

Mike Anderson, chairman of the Skokomish Watershed Action Team, and Thom Johnson, a leading expert in the recovery of Hood Canal summer chum salmon, have been named recipients of this year’s Hood Canal Environmental Awards.

Other recipients of the awards, which are sponsored by Hood Canal Coordinating Council, are Shore Friendly Mason and Shore Friendly Kitsap, two programs that actively enlist waterfront property owners in the protection and restoration of their shorelines.

Hood Canal // Photo: Dale Ireland
Hood Canal // Photo: Dale Ireland

I learned this afternoon that the awards ceremony on Nov. 4 will be dedicated to Rich Geiger, the longtime district engineer for Mason Conservation District. Rich, who died unexpectedly on Sept. 22, held the “technical vision” for the restoration of the Skokomish River watershed, according to Mike Anderson. (See Water Ways, Oct. 8.)

Rich had already been honored with a Hood Canal Environmental Award, but a lot of people have been asking that he receive some special recognition at this year’s ceremony, said Scott Brewer, executive director of the Hood Canal Coordinating Council.

“Rich was instrumental in working in the Skokomish watershed, but he certainly left his mark on other watersheds around Hood Canal,” Scott told the coordinating council, which is made up of county commissioners in Kitsap, Mason and Jefferson counties along with tribal leaders for the Skokomish and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes. The council endorsed the special recognition for Rich Geiger.

The awards ceremony will recognize individuals and groups whose actions have improved the Hood Canal environment and community. The event will be at Kitsap Conference Center at Bremerton Harborside on Friday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Guest speakers include Sarah Spaeth of Jefferson Land Trust, who will talk on “Fish, Farms and Forests of the Chimacum Watershed,” and Lissa James of Hama Hama Company, whose talk is titled “Natural Resources and the Sustainability of Place in the Northwest.”

Anyone may attend. Reservations should be made by Oct. 31 by contacting Robin Lawlis, rlawlis@hccc.wa.gov or 360-394-0046. For information, check the website of the Hood Canal Coordinating Council.

Winner of the Hood Canal Environmental Awards “embody the spirit of fostering cooperation, collaboration and lasting relationships to achieve a healthy Hood Canal,” according to organizers. Winners will have time to talk about their experiences during the ceremony.

Mike Anderson, who has been with the Wilderness Society since 1985, has been coordinating the Skokomish Watershed Action Team since its inception 10 years ago. Mike’s energy and collaborative skills have kept this team of diverse interests moving forward toward the ultimate restoration of the Skokomish River watershed. A major accomplishment was the recent congressional approval of a $19-million restoration project by the Army Corps of Engineers, but that is just the latest of many projects involving the U.S. Forest Service, Skokomish Tribe, state agencies, Green Diamond Resource Company, Tacoma Public Utilities and others.

Thom Johnson, environmental program manager for the Point No Point Treaty Council, has been a longtime leader in the recovery of salmon, most notably Hood Canal summer chum. He got his start on the summer chum project in the 1990s, when he worked for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Thom also has been a key participant in recovery efforts, including the Lead Entity Citizens Group and the Technical Advisory Group for the Hood Canal Coordinating Council. Through the years, he has been a valuable adviser to council members on many issues.

Shore Friendly Kitsap and Shore Friendly Mason each involve numerous organizations working together under an umbrella program organized by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Local groups include Mason Conservation District, WSU Kitsap County Extension, Washington Sea Grant, Futurewise and QWG Applied Geology.

Shore Friendly has helped people understand how they can improve their shorelines, including the removal of bulkheads and restoration of natural shoreline features, including native plants. The program also provides financial incentives and assists people with permits to restore functioning shoreline habitat. See Shore Friendly Kitsap and Shore Friendly Mason.

Honorable mentions in this year’s Hood Canal Environmental Awards program:

Jay and Susie Allen for their years of restoration efforts and stewardship on their land in the Tahuya River watershed. It has been said that whenever the Allens are approached about a project or idea, their only question is how they can help.

Roma Call ensures that cleanup, restoration and important environmental regulations and protections are established to conserve valuable resources and ecosystems for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. Roma’s collaborative efforts gain the support of many partners.

Clear Creek Elementary Student Garden Project sponsored by Barbara Bromley, a fourth-grade teacher. This project began with a pitch at an ECO Net meeting of environmental educators. It grew with the help of a grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity with local support from the USS Michigan crew, Spectra Laboratories and The Brothers Nursery.

Kitsap Forest & Bay Coalition for work with Kitsap County to create a stewardship plan for the new 535-acre Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park on Port Gamble Bay, which includes several projects involving hundreds of volunteers, community groups and businesses.

Michelle Myers with the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group, who works tirelessly across multiple dimensions to develop adult outreach programs and youth educational activities. Efforts involve restoring habitat, pursuing stakeholder engagement and supporting Hood Canal Watershed Education Network projects.

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