Doreen Johnson receiving the 2007 King County Green Globe award.  To her left past King County Executive Ron Sims.

—Photo by Ned Ahrens


Doreen Johnson

Doreen Johnson was a tireless advocate for the Green River watershed. She served on the Steering Committee to develop the WRIA 9 Salmon Habitat Plan for recovering the threatened Chinook salmon population of the Green/Duwamish River.  She was instrumental in identifying key acquisition sites and funding to implement the Salmon Habitat Plan, namely the acquisitions of the habitat-rich Kanaskat, O’Grady, and Metzler reaches of the Middle Green River.

Doreen was a long-time resident and activist on the Enumclaw Plateau. She started the Enumclaw Plateau Preservation Society and had been an advocate for many important environmental issues on the Enumclaw Plateau and the entire Green-Duwamish watershed.

Her contributions to developing the Middle Green River Coalition were invaluable as was her knowledge of the area.  She brought Icy Creek, an underground spring that fed cold unpolluted water into the Green River Gorge, to the attention of the WRIA9 Committee.  They adopted a resolution to “MG Action 4:  Prevent degradation of important sources of cool, clean water in the Middle Green River sub watershed”. 

Because of her advocacy the committee recognized the importance of Icy Creek and other springs as important to conserve to maintain and improve salmon recovery in the Green-Duwamish watershed.  Additionally she worked with the founding members of the non-profit to develop a mission statement and raise awareness on important issues. 

In approximately 2005 Doreen stepped away from full time environmental advocacy.  She had earned her retirement from the hours of volunteerism and community advocacy that made her a powerful voice for conservation and responsible resource management in the area.  It left a void on the Enumclaw Plateau that has never been replaced.  She was a one woman army.  She was tireless and committed to maintaining and improving the health of the environment in Southeast King County.


         “Doreen’s passion for the Green River was infectious, and I believe the foundation for the current coalition of supporters of the Green River that followed her lead. Indeed, Doreen and her husband Howard advocated for the Green River when few others were. It seemed she knew every square inch of the watershed, possessing together with Howard a vast storehouse of knowledge of the Green River and its Chinook salmon population. Doreen was the strongest advocate on the Steering Committee for taking an “ecosystem approach” to plan development. Doreen just didn’t tell you about the special places in the Green River Watershed, she showed you—always willing to head up field trips and make connections with land owners. Icy Creek in particular was special to her, and I hold the trip she led for me to see Icy Creek for the first time as a turning point in my career in understanding the connection between people and place. She was a doer.”

— Doug Osterman, Watershed Coordinator Green/Duwamish & Central Puget Sound Watershed (WRIA 9)


In 2014 Doreen passed away at the age of 85.  Besides her contributions to the Green River watershed she also donated use of her family’s Alderton property in the Puyallup river basin to the Pierce County Emergency Food Network where they grow over 100,000 pounds of organic produce annually for the food bank.

Additional info on Doreen Johnson

Green Globe Award

Leader in Forest and Wildlife Protection Award Doreen Johnson

Doreen Johnson earned the Leader in Forest and Wildlife Protection Award for her local and regional guardianship of our forests and wildlife. For fifteen years the health of King County forests benefited from Doreen’s tireless troubleshooting of proposed timber harvests. As Washington Environmental Council’s King County representative for Timber Fish and Wildlife, Doreen reviewed all forest practice applications for the county and participated in interdisciplinary teams, requiring many hours as a volunteer in the field.

Doreen is also known for her open space and water quality contributions, notably in her own community – the Green River basin. She was instrumental in calling attention to the potential surplusing of O’Grady farmlands, leading to its subsequent acquisition and foundation of the 1,000-acre Green River Natural Area. She drew attention to the importance of protecting the Kanasket Reach of the Green River, leading to 200 acres being protected in perpetuity. Doreen was on subcommittees for both Water Resource Inventory Areas 9 and 10. She had been an early reviewer of Tacoma Public Utilities proposed Pipeline 5 project.

— Text from Green Globe Award 2007

Doreen Johnson Natural Area

Green River Natural Area named the Doreen Johnson Natural Area in her honor.  On Monday February 13th, 2017, the King County council voted unanimously to name four parcels of land the Green River Natural area located in the Green River Valley after Doreen Johnson. 

Below is an the new description of the Green River Natural Area (GRNA) and a map overview of the area within the Green River Valley where the parcels are located within the GRNA.

More about doreen johnson

— Photos courtesy of Doreen Johnson's family.

A little more about Doreen from her 2014 obituary.

Doreen dedicated her life to education and the environment, while honoring her farming heritage.  She passed away on May 6, 2014 at the age of 85. 

The daughter of Otto and Charlotte (Spooner) Davis, Doreen attended Alderton and McMillin Schools, graduated from Puyallup High School and then the University of Washington.  Her contributions to education included chairing the committee that brought Green River Community College to Auburn, teaching at the Muckleshoot tribal preschool, and later teaching health at Federal Way High School and Cascade Junior High.

Doreen also readily shared her knowledge of environmental issues, mentoring others on how to constructively advocate at the local, regional and state levels.  Her environmental legacy can be experienced throughout the region.  For 15 years she reviewed all forest practice applications in King County for the Washington Environmental Council, working side-by-side with timber interests to ensure that stream and wildlife habitat was protected.  Doreen was intimately familiar with the Green River, helping to protect Icy Creek and the Kanasket Reach, and preserve the O’Grady farm as a county park. 

Many people knew Doreen through horses.  She was a show judge and steward, and taught riding lessons at her stable in Enumclaw.  Later she sold antique equine prints. 

Doreen also enjoyed growing and teaching people about rhododendrons.  She worked at Lake Tapps Rhododendrons and wrote articles about local gardens for the Tacoma Rhododendron Society newsletter. 

Perhaps her most special legacy is Mother Earth Farm.  For the past 14 years she donated use of her family’s Alderton property to the Pierce County Emergency Food Network where they grow over 150,000 pounds of organic produce annually for the food bank.  Doreen was truly a model for how one person can make a difference in our community.

She is survived by: her husband of almost 65 years, Howard; daughters Jerene, Colleen and Nora; grandsons Aaron, Troy and Brett; and great-grandson Ryan.

Donations may be made in Doreen’s memory to Emergency Food Network/Mother Earth Farm, 3318 92nd Street South, Lakewood WA 98499.