The Mission of the Coos Watershed Association is to support environmental integrity and economic stability within the Coos watershed by increasing community capacity to develop, test, promote, and implement management practices in the interests of watershed health.
This mission is informed by the underlying values of both our board of directors and our staff which capture the legitimate place human activities have in the watershed alongside our responsibility to utilize resources responsibly.
Streams, rivers, land, and livelihoods can and should be protected at many levels, but we believe that conservation from the bottom up is especially powerful. Because of our commitment to working with people directly tied to resources in the Coos Bay area, our organization operates at the watershed scale.
The term watershed refers to an area of land where all of the water drains to the same place. The Coos watershed includes all forks and tributaries of the Coos and Millicoma Rivers, and all of the sloughs and creeks that drain into the bay, and ultimately the Pacific Ocean.Watersheds include land, people, and wildlife which means that what happens to the watershed, happens to us.
The Coos Watershed Association is one of 90 watershed councils designated by local government across the state of Oregon. Watershed councils are defined as " locally organized, voluntary, non-regulatory groups established to improve the condition of watersheds in their local area." For more information on watershed councils visit the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board's (OWEB) website or view the map of other neighboring watershed councils.
The Coos Watershed Association (CoosWA) was brought to life in 1993 by a group of local stakeholders dedicated to restoration as a means to prevent coho salmon from being listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973. In 1996, CoosWA gained 501(c)(3) status and began efforts to monitor local streams and establish baseline data needed for restoration prioritization. In August of 1998 the Oregon Coast (OC) Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) of coho salmon (all naturally spawned populations of coho salmon in Oregon coastal streams south of the Columbia River and north of Cape Blanco) were listed as threatened (source).
At this time, CoosWA's original organizational goals shifted from prevention of coho listing to supporting natural resource practices and restoration that would allow coho salmon to thrive once more. From the beginning, board members and staff have understood the need for balance between environmental and economic interests and have worked across stakeholder groups to ensure that the unique resources of Coos Bay remain intact for future generations. Over the past two decades, our work has evolved to include everything from teaching local students about watershed science to operating 9 stream gauges for hydrological monitoring. While we will continue to evolve and adapt to meet watershed needs, we will never stray too far from the streams and the fish that started it all.