Impacting Key Issues
Protecting our ecosystem
Photo: Benj Drummond
Protecting waterways in Puget Sound and the Ozarks
From the Pacific Northwest and Ozark Mountains in Missouri, Boeing through its Global Corporate Citizenship organization is teaming with The Nature Conservancy to protect ecologically important waterways from the most challenging and immediate conservation threats.
In the Puget Sound area of Washington state, local marine ecosystems have begun showing signs of decline, including reduced fish populations, degraded or destroyed habitats and compromised water quality. At the same time, the Sound is facing increasing demand as more people move to the coast and new technologies emerge such as marine renewable energy.
The Nature Conservancy, through a $150,000 Boeing grant, has launched a public policy program that will help determine how Puget Sound and other areas can be used sustainably and protected from further harm. Through its GCC organization, Boeing invests in community-based programs around the globe that both educate citizens and help protect and restore critical natural assets and habitats.
“One of the goals of the Nature Conservancy is to protect waterways that are so vital to the ecosystem and our local community.”
—Mary Armstrong, vice president of Environment, Health and Safety, and a member of the Nature Conservancy's International Leadership Council.
The two-year Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) project will use compiled biodiversity data to develop interactive maps that allow for better management decisions when dealing with these areas.
"One of the goals of the Nature Conservancy is to protect waterways that are so vital to the ecosystem and our local community," explained Mary Armstrong, vice president of Environment, Health and Safety, and a member of the Nature Conservancy's International Leadership Council. "We're taking action to better equip Washington's coastal communities to reduce their impact on ocean ecosystems and protect the resource base that supports our economies."
Photo: Stan Wallach
According to GCC's Shyla Miller, the CMSP project will benefit from the involvement of Boeing Technical Fellows, technical experts from sites around Seattle who will help facilitate the information flow between the agencies involved. "Having the Fellows involved should ensure that biodiversity data are being shared between the Conservancy and national or state organizations such as the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Sytems (NANOOS) and the Washington and Oregon departments of Ecology," said Miller, a GCC global community investing specialist.
Restoring water quality is also the focus of the Nature Conservancy's efforts in the Missouri Ozarks. Boeing has invested nearly $400,000 to help the Conservancy develop and implement strategies in the Ozarks region to reduce river sedimentation caused by rural road construction, farming, ranching and forestry practices.
With more than 3,407 miles of streets, county and private roads unpaved in the area, the influx of sediment from road construction and maintenance threatens water quality at an increasing rate. "With Boeing's support, the Conservancy has been able to use remote sensing tools to help identify those roads that intersect rivers, run in streambeds or are located on riverbank slopes," explained Doug Ladd, director of Conservation Science for the Conservancy's Missouri office.
"We then plan to partner with local agencies to explore road management strategies that mitigate damage to regional freshwater areas like the Current River," Ladd added.
The Conservancy also is using remote sensing to identify farm and ranch operations that have highest impact in the watershed so it can create alternative, affordable solutions with local farmers and farm bureaus to alleviate river sedimentation and contamination.
"To protect Ozarks rivers, we must conserve the rolling woodlands that anchor their watersheds," Ladd said. "Boeing funds have been essential for Conservancy work to manage priority forest projects, monitor key lands and build a culture of sustainable forestry through programs involving private landowners and communities."
With data that covers two million acres of the Current River watershed, the Conservancy is able to target key watershed lands and then work with communities to develop strategies for managing forests so they can sustain both the local economy and the 35 globally unique species.