FACT at a Crossroads — losing our Watershed Coordinator

How are we doing? 2009 was a year of challenges for FACT. The economic downturn of the past 18 months has impacted our funding as the state grant which has supported our Watershed Coordinator staff position wound down. Our members had their own challenges with budgets which reduced some monetary contributions from average household members. For our Board, the turbulence and short term uncertainty over funding has been trying at times. I wish I could say we’re through the rough patch and into calm waters, but we ARE talking about a river here, so maybe it’s just where we are right now.

What I can say is that FACT continues to be strong in its member and community involvement in making a positive difference for the health of our river, Alum Creek. The restoration of sensitive river areas continues to grow with each month and each new project we take on. Community partnerships, as with Westerville Schools, are extending good results into other properties. FACT service projects in 2009—from coordinating 24 service events at 12 different locations, have surpassed even 2008′s lofty attendance numbers.

We’ve planted over 1,000 trees, shrubs, and perennials while we continued to parry and joust with the ubiquitous Eurasian honeysuckle bush invasion. FACT has increased its membership numbers another 10 percent over last year, even though we know there is much more potential to grow in that department. Some broadening support from business and institutional members is also helping us along. We need to involve many more households and businesses in the watershed area, to really succeed in the mission of FACT. We each have something very important in common: what we do affects the quality of our river and streams that drain to it. We live and work in a
special place where Alum Creek flows and connects us with the landscape and wildlife, the drinking water and the recreation of an urban river.

Some transitions are coming for FACT effective January 1 ,2010 since we can no longer financially support a full time   Watershed Coordinator.  The value of Kim’s work on behalf of FACT since 2006 in this role, cannot be underestimated. On behalf of the FACT board, I pledge that we will keep working at the mission at hand with whatever resources we are able to bring to this essential effort.  All manner of support for FACT will be needed and welcomed. We value our diversity of talents and abilities, no gift is too small.  Many drops of water do indeed a river make.

Something I’ve always enjoyed about my own work with FACT, which began with service projects help, is that we make a visible difference each time we are out there.  You will get your hands dirty, but you will feel better when you support FACT, and its stewardship of our local environment on which all depend for good quality of life. In getting connected with the creek up close and personally, you will see a dynamic system that human activities are definitely affecting – for good or bad.  Fortunately, we know what the problems are– and have in the Watershed Action Plan, a ready roadmap to solve them.  Lots of it comes down to education and practicing new behaviors that help protect the creek.  What’s good for the creek is good for all who live downstream, clear to the ocean!  I believe that only through this kind of basic local work, will the seemingly intractable problems of our planet be solved.

Each dollar donated to FACT is leveraged over five times on average, in making other good things happen.  The plantings and water quality improvements being achieved will yield priceless dividends to the local environment, even in the face of threats from climate change and invasive species.

There is no better way to practice caring for the earth, for ourselves and future generations, than by working locally in the watershed context. FACT invites all in this community to join and support us in this mission. Thank  you!

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