McKenzie River Trust
Strategic Plan 2020-2024
PROTECT | CONNECT | RESTORE | SUSTAIN
Clean, free-flowing rivers. Plentiful salmon runs. Vibrant farms and forests that provide livelihoods and habitat. From the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, we envision a future in which conservation lands are at the core of community efforts to sustain clean water, abundant fish and wildlife, and diverse natural resource economies in western Oregon.
The McKenzie River Trust helps people protect and care for the lands and rivers they cherish in Western Oregon.
Rising to the Challenge
The McKenzie River Trust works at the intersection of ecological systems and human community needs to ensure the health of both in the face of changes in climate and land use. Global climate change and local land use here in Oregon are connected. Global climate change threatens regional water availability and quality, plant composition and health, fish and wildlife population viability, and nearly every aspect of our economy. At the local level, as weather patterns shift, more people are moving to western Oregon, driving development pressures.
MRT is responding directly to these entwined challenges. Our work in land protection, community connection, ecological restoration, and sustainability in all of our efforts is based on two working assumptions:
• Ecological systems thrive and are more resilient when species are diverse, rich, and adaptive to the dynamic processes connecting them.
• Human communities are vibrant and healthy when people participate in land and water stewardship and share in access to resources.
Our four strategic priorities highlight the range of actions that are front of mind for the McKenzie River Trust. Because healthy land and water are central to healthy communities, we recognize that there will always be new opportunities to contribute that we’ve not anticipated. We commit to lending our expertise, resources, and energy to community needs that don’t fit neatly within our priority work when we can do so nimbly and effectively. We commit to reviewing our progress toward meeting objectives and milestones at least annually.
Strategic priority #1. The McKenzie River Trust protects key lands and water resources that support community and climate resilience.
Our service area is a destination, offering an abundance of water, rich soils, a mild climate, and access to public land. The expected increase in population over the coming decades will put more pressure on fish and wildlife habitats, water supplies, and communities. The McKenzie River Trust protects places that help natural and human communities adapt to or mitigate against those impacts.
Objective 1.1 MRT protection projects will expand upon the network of protected natural areas throughout our service area.
Building on anchor sites such as Green Island, Finn Rock Reach, the Willamette Confluence, and Coyote-Spencer Wetlands, we will acquire land and conservation easements on floodplains and uplands consistent with regional conservation goals in the upper Willamette Basin. With the establishment of a Coastal Conservation Program, we will build upon estuary, floodplain, and forest projects in the lower Siuslaw and extend that work to ocean tributaries north and south, from the Siletz River to the Umpqua River.
Objective 1.2 The McKenzie River Trust will help protect regionally significant working lands as sources of water, food, fiber, and other community assets, as well as providing wildlife habitat and carbon storage.
We will develop transactional expertise and robust but nimble due diligence practices that allow us to help others protect and gain access to lands deemed important for cultural, educational, economic, and recreational needs. Our community conservation efforts will involve tribes and other marginalized communities who have traditionally been disenfranchised.
2024 Protect Milestones:
- An average of one new property or conservation easement acquired each quarter.
- Two coastal conservation projects completed, with a focus on conserving fish habitat and drinking water resources.
- Engagement with tribes on projects that facilitate ownership or access to culturally important areas.
Strategic priority #2. The McKenzie River Trust’s collaborative and inclusive approach to land and water stewardship fosters active participation and engagement by community members.
People need nature in their lives. They are healthier, happier, and more resilient when they have access to and help care for the places that have shaped and defined their communities. People and communities are also more resilient – to floods, fires, and other impacts of climate change – when their social networks are strong. The McKenzie River Trust fosters a culture of stewardship by connecting a broad range of people to the places that sustain them, and to one another. Conversations with community members and partners about what matters to them help direct our work to the most valued aspects of land and water conservation and allow our efforts to evolve in response to changing needs and opportunities.
Objective 2.1 The McKenzie River Trust will participate in collaborative efforts with a broader cross-section of the community by making our work more relevant to their interests, needs, and concerns.
Our tours and events will and demonstrate our commitment to climate smart, culturally aware, community conservation. We will consider public access opportunities for each of our conservation projects. We will facilitate and participate in volunteer opportunities and celebrations that contribute meaningfully to healthy land, water, and people. We will use our resources to nurture community science and support traditional ecological practice among members, volunteers and partners. We will get to know and understand the concerns and interests of culturally specific organizations and identify opportunities to support their work through our mission.
Objective 2.2 The McKenzie River Trust will encourage public support for land and water conservation broadly.
We will support efforts by partner organizations that align with our goals for healthy land, water, and people. We will advocate for and participate in local, regional, and national efforts to increase funding for land and water conservation work. And we will work toward deeper integration and sharing of resources among conservation and other community groups in our service area.
Objective 2.3 The McKenzie River Trust will increase the visibility of our work through strategic communications and outreach, and will connect our value to a broad range of community concerns.
We will produce informative and inspiring content in our mailings, on our website, email, and social media channels to grow brand awareness. We will host and contribute to others’ community events to connect with and learn more about audiences new to us. We will be able to explain the value and importance of our work to diverse audiences, in ways that respond meaningfully to their needs and concerns. And we will seek new members through this work.
2024 Connect Milestones:
· Increased membership from 1,200 to 2,000 members.
· Strong and mutually supportive partnerships with two culturally specific organizations.
· Sustained funding for the Willamette Stewardship Network.
Strategic priority #3. The McKenzie River Trust works collaboratively to heal, restore, and enhance regionally important natural systems.
The negative impacts of 160 years of development on Oregon’s land, water, and Native peoples demand our attention. Restoring the land to health opens the possibility of restoring cultural and community connections to the land as well. These connections motivate and sustain our work, while broadening the range of people contributing to and benefiting from it.
Objective 3.1 The McKenzie River Trust will work with partners to implement habitat stewardship plans that anticipate climate change impacts on ecological processes.
In protected floodplains, we will restore and enhance hydrologic connection and structural complexity, re-building degraded channels, putting wood in-stream, and removing barriers to seasonal floodplain connections. We will use prescribed fire or practices which mimic the effects of fire in appropriate grassland and forest habitats. We will replant native vegetation and suppress invasive plants where ecosystem functions are threatened. We will confer with tribes and other key partners at every opportunity.
Objective 3.2 The McKenzie River Trust will integrate ecological science with traditional ecological knowledge in land and water stewardship to enhance natural areas and our connections with them.
We will promote and be guided by the concept of Living Rivers, recognizing that natural systems are dynamic and interconnected. We will practice land stewardship that acknowledges people as important actors in sustaining healthy land and water.
2024 Restore Milestones:
- Process based restoration projects, designed to enhance ecological function in anticipation of climate change impacts.
- MRT projects contribute to increases in regional viability and resilience in fish and wildlife populations
- Our restoration project sites provide regular opportunities for the integration of traditional ecological knowledge in land stewardship
Strategic Priority #4. McKenzie River Trust maintains the financial, human, and other resources needed to make progress toward its long-term vision.
To sustain the work of caring for land and water, we invest in the organizational health of the Trust and our partners, so we can collectively evolve with community needs in the century ahead. Recognizing that the history of land conservation has included discrimination and removal of people from the land, we commit to better representing and integrating principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our work going forward. We are committed to the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers, members, and community.
Objective 4.1 McKenzie River Trust will secure, manage, and share financial resources for both near-term operations and long-term land and water stewardship.
We will draw upon a diverse mix of revenues to cover annual operating and program expenses, cultivating unrestricted annual gifts, planned gifts, grants, investment income, and earned revenue. We will increase our base membership and encourage life-time giving and estate gifts from members. We will build reserves of invested funds appropriate to the long-term stewardship responsibilities we assume, with attention to investment impacts on environment, social, and governance values. And we will help build a resilient network of conservation partners throughout our service area.
Objective 4.2 The McKenzie River Trust will embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion in its outlook and its make-up, including staff, board members, volunteers, membership, and program participants.
We will work to better understand our own racial experience and the ways we have benefited from the systems and institutions around us. We will explore and articulate the meaning and importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion for our work. We will develop inclusive and equitable organizational practices to recruit, hire, welcome, and include team members and the community, with regular learning opportunities and conversation for Board and staff members.
Objective 4.3 The McKenzie River Trust will invest in the training, equipment, and organizational structures and practices that ensure more effective programs, responsible business practice, and a strong, resilient staff.
We will provide staff with a safe and supportive work environment, professional development opportunities, and compensation that support success at work, connections with community, and general personal wellness. We will welcome Board members and other volunteers with meaningful work, supportive training, and regular acknowledgement of their central role in the success of the Trust. We will attend to the impacts of our work on the environment and pursue more sustainable, low carbon business practices.
2024 Sustain Milestones:
- Our office culture and our organizational policies and practices are measurably equitable and inclusive
- Fifty percent increase in cash and investments, from $6.8 million to over $10 million
- Greater than 85% staff and board retention on an annual basis
- Annual recognition by 100 Best Nonprofits to work for in Oregon
- High demand for seats on volunteer committees and the Board, demonstrated by a higher number of people interested in serving on our board than we have open seats