The Maiden Voyage of the SS WMC!

By Laura Brown | June 19, 2019

It was going to be a scorcher… 97 degrees was the predicted high for the Willamette Valley on that mid-June day. Fortunately for Benton SWCD’s Laura Brown and Charity Mundava (a Vera Theiss Fellow with the International River Foundation who had flown in from Australia the day before!) they would be taking Benton SWCD’s brand new Wenonah canoe on its maiden voyage down the mighty Willamette River!


The Willamette River Initiative won the International River Foundation’s Riverprize back in 2012 for its effective, collaborative approach that resulted in marked improvements to the health of the Willamette River. The Willamette Mainstem Cooperative (WMC) itself was an outcome of the WRI, in addition to the dedication of Benton County’s landowners and partners. Partners participating in the WMC work to promote stewardship of Willamette River resources through collaboration, planning for short and long-term management of aquatic and terrestrial invasives and prioritizing species based on habitat impacts. The WMC also works to protect high quality habitat, monitor sites for impacts, and restore native plants back to the habitat.


This trip with Charity was a great opportunity to show her all the great work that the WMC has been doing along the river. We were able to paddle into sites where we have worked to clear Ludwigia, and to show the impacts of our ivy treatments along Highway 20 towards Albany. In addition to seeing weeds, we also saw Great Blue Herons galore! As always, when on the river, we kept our eyes out for any new invasives species that would fall under our EDRR category. Hearing Charity’s perspective on river health brought a greater understanding of where other rivers are on their own restoration journey. Charity will be continuing to interview all Riverprize winners and discovering the impact the award had on the organization and the rivers they work on

Here’s a little bit from Charity about her first trip on the Willamette:



International River Foundation (IRF) visits the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District

“I am a Vera Theiss Fellow with the International River Foundation in Australia. My project is centered around measuring the impact of winning the IRF Riverprize. I am currently on a whirlwind tour of North America visiting some of the past winners, including Willamette River Initiative (WRI) and partners, who won this prize in 2012. I visited one of the WRI partners, Benton Soil and Water Conservation District. I got an amazing opportunity to be led on a Willamette river tour on their shiny new canoe on its “maiden voyage” by Laura Brown (River Restoration and Invasive Species Program Coordinator). The tour was centered around the work that the Willamette Mainstem Cooperative (WMC) has been doing along the stretch of the Willamette from Corvallis to Albany. It was a lovely education exposure for me to hear of the challenges and the opportunities. Most of all it was a great day on the river.”


For more information on the Willamette Mainstem Cooperative please join us for any of our upcoming “Love Your River” events this summer! Sign up below!

illustration of paddlers, wapato, pond turtle, salmon, chub and osprey.

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