When the executive director of the Oregon Garden in Silverton wanted help with a new initiative that used plant materials to solve environmental problems, he turned to the Institute for Natural Resources.
When Oregon’s governor wanted an unbiased scientific evaluation of a federal report that could affect coastal communities and marine resources, he asked the Institute for Natural Resources for help.
And when managers of the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests wanted to review their salmon strategy, they sought assistance from the Institute for Natural Resources.
“I see the INR as having several important roles,” says James Brown, natural resources advisor for Gov. Ted Kulongoski. “It can get people together to talk about difficult issues and try to find pathways to good public policy. It can collect, store, and provide access to data about natural resources. And it can conduct unbiased research for policy makers.”
All of that falls into the lap of Gail Achterman, the executive director of the INR.
“One of our primary goals with the INR is to bring people together, and sometimes we have to do that literally,” Achterman says. “We’re having a series of monthly dinner meetings in Portland to bring together policy leaders, scientists, private industry, anyone who might be able to help address some of the tough natural resource issues that we face. We get people who rarely meet each other in the same room, let them talk and trade ideas about what needs to be done, how we might solve some of these problems.”
Achterman and other experts say there is no shortage of problems the institute might tackle. They have already brainstormed a list of 70 to 80 potential projects, such as ways to promote business development and the state’s economy in an environmentally sensitive way or do a better job of environmental restoration without unnecessary government regulations.