Evan Hayduk, Coordinator of the MidCoast Watersheds Council (MCWC) since 2016, has earned American Fisheries Society’s 2020 Rising Star Award. This annual award is administered in partnership with NOAA and the National Fish Habitat Partnership to recognize the achievements of individuals who early in their career exhibit outstanding work to promote freshwater and coastal fish conservation. Hayduk was recognized for the quantity and quality of his restoration projects and his cooperative work with agencies and landowners.
In cooperation with the MCWC’s Technical Team and agency experts and funders, Hayduk managed the implementation of the $1.15 million North Creek culvert replacement project in the Drift Creek Siletz watershed. He also helped plan and permit the $500 million Big Creek (south of Yachats) floodplain restoration project and the $721,000 estuary restoration project on the Yaquina River, both of which will be completed this summer. In addition, Hayduk is busy implementing the $700,000 Beaver Creek riparian restoration project, working with 12 landowners to plant over 20,000 trees and shrubs to help shade the stream, as well as other major work to help restore the floodplain.
Hayduk says, “I am incredibly grateful to all the partners I’ve worked with over my four years with the MidCoast Watersheds Council. The success I’ve had here could not have been accomplished without their and the greater community’s support for habitat restoration.”
Hayduk graduated from the Evergreen State College in 2012 with a Masters of Environmental Studies. Between then and his move to the Oregon Central Coast, he worked running Mount Rainier National Park’s native plant nursery, conducting prescribed burns and research on prairie habitats in Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, and contributing to the Sustainability in Prisons Project while in school.
Deb Wilkins, Hebo District Ranger of the Siuslaw National Forest, was one of many who recommended Hayduk for this award, primarily because of her positive experience working with Hayduk to replace the only fish passage barrier on North Creek, in the otherwise nearly pristine Drift Creek Siletz watershed, located within the Siuslaw National Forest. According to Wilkins, “Evan worked hand-in-hand with Hebo District Staff to implement a project designed to create fish access to over 13 miles of high-quality habitat.”
Meanwhile, Celeste Lebo, Natural Resources Specialist with Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, has similarly been moved by Hayduk’s efforts to improve habitat for fish on a watershed-scale. “Throughout the time that Evan and I have worked together, I have been impressed by his work ethic and his thoughtful approach to everything he does,” she said.
Three years ago, Lebo and Hayduk began a collaboration to produce locally-sourced plant species at OPRD’s native plant nursery at Beaver Creek State Natural Area for use in watershed restoration projects. The two have successfully organized and engaged community volunteers to help turn an unused barn structure into a budding nursery that supplies thousands of native plants for restoration work across the Oregon Coast.
Derek Wilson, Habitat Conservation Biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, also wrote a letter of recommendation for the application. He noted that Hayduk was deserving of the award because of his dedication to “engaging stakeholders and partners as well as being innovative in project designs and implementation.” Traditionally, this award is presented at the annual business meeting of the Fish Habitat Section of the American Fisheries Society, which was planned for Columbus, Ohio.
Unfortunately, due to coronavirus the in-person meeting has been cancelled and the meeting will occur in a virtual format. This does not bother Hayduk too much though, who says, “While it feels good to be recognized, I am most looking forward to continue working with landowners and partners this summer to implement restoration projects across Oregon’s Central Coast, and to see the impacts these will have in the years to come.”