The Kenai Watershed Forum has recently secured a sizeable contribution to its capital building campaign to renovate a historic building in downtown Soldotna that will soon become KWF's new headquarters.
"It's a big hit that we needed," said Josselyn O'Connor, KWF Project Director.
KWF was awarded $100,000 from Chevron USA Inc. through a program to establish new partnerships focused on economic development and capacity building.
The building to be renovated is the historic "White House," built in 1955 by the territorial Alaska Road Commission. In 1980, the state deeded to Soldotna 15 acres, including the White House, and early in 2009 the Watershed Forum negotiated a 30-year lease for the 2,300-square-foot building located at the confluence of Soldotna Creek and the Kenai River. The building requires major renovations before KWF can move in.
"The estimated cost of the renovation project is roughly $425,000," O'Connor said. "So now we're really close to the 50 percent mark. We're hovering at just over $200,000 for the project."
In addition to allowing KWF to secure a long-term presence in the community, the funds will also specifically go toward enhancing the group's three major programs: watershed research, restoration and K-12 education.
According to O'Connor, it will also result in an increased capacity to undertake key projects, such as understanding salmon ecology, fish passage improvements, presence and role of invasive species, and reducing water pollution.
The Kenai Watershed Forum's application won unanimous approval from Chevron's corporate selection committee. KWF was the only North American recipient of the grant.
"This project aligns with 'The Chevron Way' of valuing partnerships, caring about its neighbors, and holding itself to extremely high environmental standards," said John Zager of Chevron.
Other recipients -- of which there were six -- were awarded worldwide.
KWF's mission is "working together for healthy watersheds on the Kenai Peninsula," and O'Connor said KWF fully recognizes that their work cannot be effective without strong partnerships and community support.
"We're overwhelmed by the generosity of people, and not just corporate sponsors, but also individuals in this community," she said.
"We're going to strive to meet their expectations," O'Connor added. "We intend to demonstrate our appreciation by continuing to work with our many partners, members and others to maintain and improve the health of watersheds and habitat across the Kenai Peninsula for many years to come."
This is the second large donation to KWF from a company under the Chevron name. Chevron Environmental Management Company also presented the forum with a check for $7,000 for the project in October.
Other corporate sponsorship and fundraising efforts are still ongoing, but KWF is hoping to break ground on the project in 2010.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at email@example.com.
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