A Green Business Investing in Restoration & Community
by Jim Carpenter
Green Business is the emerging corporate paradigm for the postmodern
age. Across the spectrum, industries are re-assessing their operations
to reflect this interest-as a good management tool, a necessity
for securing raw materials, or simply as a marketing strategy. Whatever
the motivation, it is clearly an idea whose time has come.
Riding this wave-both literally and figuratively-Simplexity has
been in the green foods business for more than two decades, harvesting
the abundant Super Blue Green¨ Algae from Upper Klamath Lake.
The lake, considered eutrophic-highly enriched with nutrients-has
sustained algae blooms for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
Labeled by some as nuisance algae, it has been studied with a view
of trying to get rid of it. All the while, the nutritional properties
had remained largely unexplored. All this changed as Simplexity has
distributed the freeze-dried blue green algae-Aphanizomenon flos-aquae-
throughout North America. This has transformed the "nuisance
algae" into Klamath County's single largest agricultural commodity,
with up to $200 million in annual sales. "Green" has been
particularly good in this business and provided the economic engine
to drive a variety of programs and projects designed to sustain
the ecosystem and the community.
A "self funded environmental organization," Simplexity
is able to direct considerable resources into the restoration of
the ecosystem that sustains its livelihood. Not through grants or
fund raising drives, but through a network of Independent Distributors
operating their own businesses. Socially conscious and environmentally
aware, these Distributors are interested in taking a stewardship
role in personal and planetary health and expect the company to
model this in the Klamath Basin.
As earlier noted, Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath Basin are
some of the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems in the world.
Home to the (formerly) largest Ponderosa Pine forest, world class
Red Band Trout and largest wetland complex in the West, the Basin
is both a cornucopia of natural resources, and fertile ground for
ecosystem recovery projects designed to sustain the environment.
Over-used water: Since Simplexity
built its business wildcrafting the blue-green algae from the
waters of Upper Klamath Lake, it seemed natural that we would take
an active role in water quality and quantity issues-there certainly
are plenty. The forests have been cut, wetlands drained, habitats
lost, and the water itself overallocated to the point that there
is no longer enough water for all who claim an interest. We are
currently involved in an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process
that aims to find creative solutions in anticipation of a lengthy
and contentious adjudication of the Basin's water. The hope is that
through creative dialogue, solutions will be found that make the
ultimate winner the natural resources of the Basin.
In addition to staying as the table in search of consensus, Simplexity
has also been building partnerships on the ground with tangible
projects designed to augment water supplies, provide habitats and
improve water quality.
A Riparian Park: On a piece
of surplus city property that was scheduled to be sold and developed,
Simplexity is constructing a 3.5 acre riparian park with nesting
islands and uplands planted with native species like bulrush and
black cottonwood. Though not a large park, its public access and
urban location on the lake make it an easy educational trip for
school groups, bird watchers, and fisherpersons. The construction
is proceeding with a crew of at-risk teenagers-learning horticulture
and environmental awareness as foundational job skills.
The Williamson River delta:
This Upper Klamath Lake wetland restoration project is huge. It
is 4700 acres in the middle of some of the most important habitat
for two listed species of endangered fish. The goal is that once
restored, this habitat will lead to the recovery of these two species.
Simplexity, PacifiCorp, the Natural Resource Conservation Service
and the Nature Conservancy, along with the help of many others,
are partnering this important effort. In addition to being the richest
farmland-the source of many of the commercially grown seed potatoes
in the Basin. Recognizing the importance of both farming and species
habitats, 1100 acres will continue to be farmed as the delta is
restored to develop complementary and synergistic agricultural practices.
The production of food needs to be in balance with the environment-not
one at the expense of the other.
Bald Eagle Habitat: When Weyerhauser
sold its eastern Oregon timberlands it offered to give 400 acres
along the lake to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Unfortunately,
ODF&W was unable to take on any more property due to severe
budgetary constraints. Simplexity was able to facilitate the transaction
by providing a endowment that will pay taxes and the fire assessment
in trust for the property. In the future the land will be managed
for eagle habitat-rather than timber production.
Community efforts: It isn't
all wetlands and wildlife though. The "eco" in ecosystems
speaks to home. Simplexity supports several community efforts. Environmental
Studies and basketball at OIT; WaterFest; the Bald Eagle Conference-the
oldest bird festival in the US; Headwaters Ancient Forest Activists
Conference; the Oregon Lakes Association Conference, and the Harbor
House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
The Klamath Basin is an amazing watershed with 10.5 million acres
of incredible diversity and opportunity-and it needs a lot of help.
Our feeling is that the only way to meet our goals is through partnerships
at every level. Cooperation in restoration is the only way to ensure
everyone's needs are met and Green Business is the sustainable
"economic" model that can make it all happen.
Join our sustainable Green Business and make a positive contribution
to the environment