‘Respect Russian River’ branding initiative aims to encourage stewardship

The branding initiative hopes to bolster stewardship and ecological tourism.|

A new line of products designed to show love for the Russian River was unveiled Thursday.

Sonoma County officials, Russian River business owners and representatives from the conservation group Russian River Confluence introduced “Respect Russian River,” a new branding initiative that aims to raise awareness of and drive conservation actions for the county’s most prominent waterway.

The initiative will stamp the three-word brand and artwork depicting the river, salmon and redwood trees on an eco-friendly line of reusable items like water bottles, T-shirts and tote bags.

Items range from a $1 sticker to a $24 water bottle. T-shirts, which will sell for $20, will be printed at Thurston Screen Printing in Santa Rosa while the water bottles are made by CamelBak out of Petaluma.

The branding initiative was born out of the February 2019 floods, which caused millions of dollars in damage in lower river communities, and was paid for out of a grant provided by the state after the disaster.

“The (Russian River) business community had expressed the need for promotional opportunities to grow business during challenging times and, at the same time, expressed concerns about the river — years with low flow, algae, and issues with trash and waste going into the river,” Sonoma County District 5 Field Representative Elise Weiland said.

Last year, the county contracted with Healdsburg-based consultant group Catch Creative to develop a “Keep Tahoe Blue”-inspired effort.

The conservation push, according to Catch Creative, was “inspire pride, communicate the vulnerability of the river and the need for action.”

The contract with Catch Creative plus the cost of the merchandise and materials to date is approximately $127,000. The budget approved by the Board of Supervisors for the brand development is $160,000.

The county plans to have the branded merchandise available in local retail shops and online at a soon-to-launch revamped Russian River Confluence website by mid-October.

For more information, go to russianriverconfluence.org.

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