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State Land Board Awards

Established in 2004, the State Land Board Awards recognize exceptional projects and partners that protect and enhance Oregon's natural resources.

Meet the Land Board Award Recipients!
The 19th Annual State Land Board Awards Ceremony took place on October 10, 2023. Read the awards news release

Wetland Award: Palensky-McCarthy Creek Restoration Project, Multnomah County
Palensky Wildlife Area provides incredibly important floodplain habitat for native species, including western painted turtles, northern red legged frogs, and thirteen salmon species.

Changes to the landscape over time created pockets of floodplain habitat that weren’t connected to the bigger river system. Salmon couldn’t reach the habitat. Native animals and plants struggled, but invasive species thrived.  

The Palensky-McCarthy Creek Restoration Project changed that, reconnecting more than 280 acres of floodplain habitat to Multnomah Channel for the first time in more than 150 years. Work included removing culverts, adding bridges, and carving swales into the landscape.

The project is a treasure trove of best practices, including an innovative approach to targeting invasive reed canary grass. By lowering the elevation of marshes infested with reed canary grass, those areas are more frequently flooded, creating optimal growing conditions for wapato and native rushes.

CREST’s project partners included the Bonneville Power Administration, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources Conservation Service, West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Wolf Water Resources, PC Trask and Associates, BCI Contracting, and the Enyart family.

Stream Award – Wade Creek Restoration, Clackamas County  
In the 1960s, Wade Creek, a tributary of the Clackamas River that runs through the City of Estacada, was converted to a pond. With that change came warmer water, bacteria, and invasive plants and species like blackberries and bullfrogs. 

The pond also impacted the effectiveness of the adjacent floodplain. In 2009, during a flash flood, the pond overflowed into Estacada’s library. 

Bringing back Wade Creek was at the heart of the city’s multi-year effort to address problems with the pond while also creating community. Work included restoring the historic course of the creek to provide improved passage for salmon species throughout their life cycle, adding native plants along the bank to shade and cool the creek, and eliminating steep slopes to create a working floodplain. 

The restoration project also added accessible walking trails and a boardwalk to the adjacent park and public library, an amphitheater and community gathering space, stormwater rain gardens, and a pollinator garden. 

Fifteen years after that flash flood, the restored Wade Creek anchors a place for the community to gather, learn, and celebrate.

The project was led by Greenworks, with Otak and Pacific Habitat Services, and partners SeaReach and Keystone Contracting Inc.

Stream Award – Wilson Haun Wallowa River Project: Restoring Natural Processes for Salmon and Steelhead, Wallowa County

Restoring the milelong stretch of Wallowa River that runs through their family ranch near Lostine realized a longtime dream for Ian and Heidi Wilson. The ranch has been home to five generations of Wilson and Haun families. And the river is home to many fish species, including Chinook salmon, summer steelhead, and bull trout.

In partnership with Trout Unlimited and Grande Ronde Model Watershed, the family worked to reconnect the Wallowa's floodplain and restore important spawning and rearing habitat. With an overall focus on bringing back natural processes, this project aimed to create more habitat and increase habitat complexity and ecosystem function. Work included adding side channels, placing logs, building beaver dam analogs, and planting thousands of native trees.

Their efforts lead to remarkable results. Water surface area in the floodplain went from 3 acres to 25 acres, adding important habitat. Salmon and steelhead appreciated that 700 percent increase, with spawning and rearing activity already observed.

Attracting beavers was a big goal for the family, said Ian Wilson, who’s a trained fisheries biologist and restoration project manager for the Grande Ronde Model Watershed. “We wanted them to take over long-term stewardship, and not rely on future man-made intervention,” he said. “We wanted the original stream restorers to come in and do their thing.”

Within two months of project completion, for the first time in nearly 25 years, beavers got back to work as stewards of the stream.

The project team includes Wolf Water Resources, BCI Contracting, Anabranch Solutions, Plantworks, and Wildlands. Partners included the Wallowa Implementation Team: the Nez Perce Tribe, U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wallowa Resources, NOAA Fisheries, and Bonneville Power Administration.


Partnership Award – Trailkeepers of Oregon

With work gloves on and tools ready, Trailkeepers of Oregon helps inspire both exploration and stewardship of South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve in Coos County.

“Having great relationships with land management partners like South Slough Reserve helps us focus on doing outreach to get more people, from totally different walks of life, out enjoying a trail keeping experience with us," said Trevor Bradford, TKO's South Coast Stewardship Coordinator. 

TKO hosts regular trail parties at South Slough Reserve, including a major effort to build the fifteen-hundred-foot Hidden Creek boardwalk. TKO also provides terrific support for volunteers, helping build trail-building skills through hands-on experiences. 

Catalyst Award – Peggy Lynch, League of Women Voters of Oregon 

As a champion for public participation in government, Peggy Lynch has been making a difference in Oregon – and helping other people make a difference in Oregon – for decades. 


Washington County’s first community plan came together at the Lynch dining room table, with information she and other community members gathered by walking their neighborhoods. She volunteered on the committee that helped create Metro regional government, and engaged with others as Oregon’s land use program was expanded beyond the first 10 goals. 

As a 30-year League of Women Voters of Oregon volunteer, she has continually encouraged awareness of the State Land Board and Department of State Lands’ contributions to natural resources and school funding. 

Lynch is quick to credit those she’s worked with, like her LWVOR mentor Liz Frenkel, and the importance of sharing experience and information through mentorship and partnership.  

Most important for getting involved, Lynch said: Focus on what you care about most. Do what you can and feel good about it. Share opportunities and information. Find the people who care about the same things as you do, and work together.  

Everything helps, she said, “as long as you make a place a better place for others. I have family, friends and, neighbors all over the state, and it’s really important to make sure decisions are good for all Oregonians.” 


Award Information
Awards are given in the categories of Wetland Project, Stream Project, Partnership Award, and Catalyst Award: 

Stream and Wetland Project Awards

Any stream or wetland project completed, or that completed monitoring, during the previous calendar year may be eligible for a Stream Project Award or Wetland Project Award. Past awards have gone to wetland mitigation banks, dam removals, wetland restorations, fish habitat improvement projects, and more. Download the Stream Project Award nomination form. Download the Wetland Project Award nomination form. 

Partnership Award
The Partnership Award recognizes organizations who have partnered with the Department of State Lands to advance our work through volunteer efforts. Download the Partnership Award nomination form.

The Catalyst Award
The Catalyst Award recognizes an individual partner whose work supports and inspires stewardship of Oregon's school lands, wetlands, or waterways. Download the Catalyst Award nomination form.


Frequently Asked Questions

Eligible projects:

•  Completed construction, or completed monitoring required by DSL, in the previous calendar year
•   Met or exceeded all DSL permit conditions
•   Do not have an unresolved enforcement action​

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For stream and wetland projects, the selection committee considers the benefit to the resource, innovation and creativity, community involvement and partnerships, and avoidance and minimization in design. The nomination forms request information for each of these criteria.
 
For partnership and catalyst awards, the selection committee considers innovation and effort, consistent outstanding service, and the example set by the nominee.   ​

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Anyone and YES! Past nominations have come from landowners, consultants, funding partners, DSL staff, government agencies, watershed councils, local planners, businesses, organizations and more. If you have been a part of an exemplary project or partnership, please submit a nomination!​​​

DSL convenes a selection committee that typically includes staff, partner organizations, and representatives of other state agencies to review nominations. Generally, one award per category is presented each year. However, the committee may recommend that more than one award be given, or that no award will be given, in a specific category.​​

The Land Board Awards are presented by the Land Board – Oregon’s Governor, Secretary of State, and Treasurer – during the October board meeting. The award is a plaque featuring the artwork of glass artist Ann Cavanaugh. Award recipients are also highlighted in a news release, web features, and on social media.​


Previous Recipients

Contact

Ali Ryan Hansen
Communications Director
503-510-6860
Ali.R.Hansen@DSL.oregon.gov

Nomination Forms

   Stream Award nomination form

   Wetland Award nomination form

   Partnership Award nomination form

   Catalyst Award nomination form