By Amy Wilson
From his whitewater kayak, Jim Compton gets a close-up view of salmon habitat and has learned the importance of cold, clear, free-running rivers in a healthy watershed.
Because he understands the salmon's role in a larger ecosystem, Compton, president of the Compton Foundation, got his foundation board interested in funding the Sierra Club's Pacific Northwest Wild Salmon Campaign.
"The Club's focus on protecting salmon habitat coincides with our own interest in preserving rivers and watersheds," he says. "Saving wild salmon is extremely important, and the Club is making progress toward that goal."
Such funders are an integral part of a team that includes dedicated volunteers, staff members, decisionmakers and the public. Their support keeps the salmon issue visible and pays for trainings, reports and newsletters, radio time and coalition-building.
The successful work of the Club's Pacific Northwest salmon program has won this kind of support from the The Bullitt Foundation in Seattle for the past six years.
"We won't save the salmon unless an extensive network of groups - armed with volunteer energy, talented staff members and good science - collaborate to get the work done," says Emory Bundy, the foundation's director.
You'd be surprised by some of the members of that network. A primary funder of the California salmon campaign is Takara Shuzo, Ltd., a Japanese corporation with a California subsidiary that produces sake. Clean water is a key ingredient of good sake and a vital factor in the life cycle of a salmon; to protect the fish is to protect the quality of the water in which it thrives - and that made us partners.
Grants from Bullitt, Compton and other funders - including the Seattle-based Kongsgaard-Goldman Foundation and the Northern California-based Mennen Environmental Foundation - are the lifeblood of the Club's salmon advocacy work. Like the Sierra Club, these funders realize that protecting salmon and the ecosystem requires a long-term commitment.
"Salmon are the quintessential indicator species, reflecting the health of the environment from the mountains to the sea," says Bundy. "Aided by the vital work of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, they have a fighting chance."
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