Peter Bahls
Northwest Watershed Institute
Port Townsend, WA

Aquatic biologist, Peter Bahls, founded the Northwest Watershed Institute in 2001 to provide scientific and technical support for habitat restoration in the Pacific Northwest. Over the past eight years, NWI has implemented a model watershed protection and restoration project in the Tarboo watershed on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. The 7,000 acre watershed includes the extensive wetlands of the Tarboo Creek valley and the biologically rich habitats of Tarboo-Dabob Bay, one of the most intact estuarine bays remaining in Puget Sound. A diversity of habitats supports eagles, bear, cougar, deer, waterfowl, western toads, and five species of salmon.

Mr. Bahls and his organization, partnering with landowners and 30 other organizations, have made significant progress in protecting and restoring the streams and wetlands from the headwaters of Tarboo Creek to the estuary. With three National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grants, NWI protected over 500 acres of wetlands and floodplains through acquisition or conservation easements. And with support from NOAA Fisheries, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and various state and local sources, NWI removed road culverts that had blocked salmon access to streams and wetlands; controlled invasive species across hundreds of acres; and restored historic meanders to two miles of previously channelized streams to increase salmon habitat. With the help of hundreds of students and parents each year from local schools, Bahls and NWI have planted 60,000 native trees and shrubs to restore wetland vegetation.