Governor's Spirit of the Oregon Plan Leadership Award


November 9, 2001

Contact: Bill Hastie
(503) 378-3589 ext 834

Local watershed steward gets Governor's Award

John Zerba of Milton-Freewater was recognized for his leadership in watershed stewardship at a meeting of the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts on Monday, November 5, in Newport. The "Governor's Spirit of the Oregon Plan Leadership Award" was presented by Neal Coenen, the Governor's Salmon Advisor, on behalf of Governor Kitzhaber.

John's leadership as chair of the Walla Walla Basin Watershed Council since its beginnings in 1994 has been instrumental in making it one of the leading councils in eastern Oregon, and in fostering the council's dedication to the resource, apparent from the number of implemented projects and partnerships formed among many entities," noted Coenen. "John serves as the main advisor for council activities, project prioritization, and wise utilization of funding. On the ground, he is an active volunteer in riparian planting, fence building, clean up work, and other activities. He also serves as a member of the Oregon-Washington Bi-state Habitat Conservation Planning Committee, and as secretary of the Hudson Bay Improvement Company."

Zerba was among fifteen Oregonians from around the state to receive the award for 2001. The award program was created to recognize leadership in such areas as:

  • Adopting and/or practicing innovative or unprecedented conservation strategies in the watershed
  • Bringing together a community to accomplish watershed restoration or conservation
  • Outstanding work as a volunteer in watershed restoration or conservation
  • Outstanding support for watershed restoration or conservation exhibited over several years

"The success of the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds depends on Oregonians to be stewards of the state's watersheds," said Coenen. "It simply can't happen without the kind of dedication that these award winners have shown. We want to recognize the contributions people from all over the state have made to improve conditions in our watersheds and communities."

Candidates were nominated by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board regional program coordinators and the Governor's Natural Resources Office. Each winner received a deep-etched glass likeness of a jumping salmon set in a cherry wood base.

The Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds is designed to restore the healthy functioning of Oregon's watersheds. It focuses on salmon because they have great cultural, economic and recreational significance to Oregonians, and are important indicators of watershed health. The plan represents commitments from interest groups, private citizens, and government from all sectors of the state. While it originated as an effort to address declining populations of coastal coho salmon, it now covers the entire state and additional fish species. In contrast to endangered species recovery and environmental protection that rely primarily on regulatory approaches, the Oregon Plan represents a new way of restoring watersheds and improving water quality - the "Oregon Approach." This approach meshes scientific actions with local watershed-based public support. It relies on teamwork between government at all levels and groups of citizens, resulting in voluntary and cooperative actions.

For more information on the Oregon Plan, visit or call the Oregon Watershed InfoLine at 1-888-854-8377.

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