Columbia River Basin

Source to Sea ’07 Expedition Report

Expedition Location, Dates   ·   Participants   ·   Funding   ·   Purpose
Experience   ·   Techniques   ·   Results   ·   Biographies


TITLE OF EXPEDITION: The 2007 Columbia River Basin Expedition – Source to Sea
for No Water No Life, LLC

WHO: Alison M. Jones

WHAT: Research on fresh water availability, usage and quality

WHERE: Columbia River Basin in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon

WHY: To raise awareness of degradation, protection and preservation of watersheds in North America and Africa

Map of the expedition route

See Expedition Map

LOCATION OF EXPEDITION: See Attachment 1, Maps.

The Expedition explored the Columbia River Basin in Canada (British Columbia) and the United States (Washington and Oregon) following the main stem of the Columbia River from source to sea. The river ‘s headwaters is Columbia Lake near Canal Flats, BC (50°13’00” N, 115°51’00” W; Elevation 2,656 feet). Its terminus is Cape Disappointment on the Pacific Ocean, near Astoria WA (46°17’57” N, 124°04’48” W). The basin’s geographic features researched and documented by this Expedition include rivers, lakes, wetlands, estuaries, deltas, mountains, plateaus, valleys and gorges.

Site names of specific geographic features researched and documented:


Columbia Lake (the headwaters lake for the Columbia River:
50°13’00” N, 115°51’00” W; Elevation 2,656 feet)

Windermere Lake

Kinbasket Lake – upper and lower reaches (formed by Mica Dam)

Lake Revelstoke (formed by Revelstoke Dam)

Arrow Lakes (formed by Keenleyside Dam)

Lake Roosevelt (formed by Grand Coulee Dam)

Lake Pend Oreille

Lake Chelan


Columbia Wetlands

Okanogan River Delta (at the Okanogan River’s confluence with the Columbia River)

Columbia Estuary (terminus of the Columbia River at the Pacific Ocean:
46°17’57” N, 124°04’48” W)


Joseph’s Creek

Kootenay River

Slocan River

Salmo River

Okanogan River

Spokane River

Snake River

Yakima River

White Salmon River

Klickitat River

Hood River

Willamette River


Canadian Rocky Mountains:
Columbia Icefield
Mt. Columbia: 52°08’50” N, 117°26’10” W; Elevation 12,284 ft.

Columbia Mountains

Purcell Mountains

Monashee Mountains

Cascade Mountains:
Mt Hood: 45°22’24.65rdquo; N, 121°41’45.31” W; Elevation 11,249 ft.
Mt Adams: 46°12’08.68” N, 121°29’27.22” W; Elevation 12,276 ft.
Mt St. Helens: 46°11’95” N, 122°11’34” W; Elevation 8,363 ft.


Columbia Plateau:
Washington Scablands
Steppe Shrubland
Dry Falls: 47°36’20.61” N, 119°21’13.12” W, Elevation 1510 ft.

Columbia River Gorge:
Multnomah, Eagle Creek, Horsetail, Wahkeena, Latourel, Oneonta Falls

DATES OF EXPEDITION: The Expedition was conducted from June 2 to July 10, 2007. This was the first Columbia River Basin Expedition for No Water No Life. As intended, it will serve as a baseline study for continued research on this watershed and comparison to the five other watersheds being studied by No Water No Life. In August-September 2008 a No Water No Life Expedition will return to the British Columbia.

Expedition Location, Dates   ·   Participants   ·   Funding   ·   Purpose
Experience   ·   Techniques   ·   Results   ·   Biographies


See Attachment 2, Team Biographies.


No Water No Life Project Director and Lead Photographer
Alison M. Jones, Alison Jones Photography

No Water No Life Project Coordinator
Robin MacEwan, Restoration Ecologist, WA

Columbia River Expedition Videographer
Fritha Pengelly, Pengelly: Projects, WA

No Water No Life Associate Photographer
Bonnie Muench, Muench Photography Inc., CA

Local Stakeholder and Lawyer
Jay Wiener, British Columbia CAN and San Francisco CA


No Water No Life Science Advisor
Dr. Robin Sears, Columbia University

No Water No Life Advisor
Dr. Thomas Stoneback, Communications Industry

No Water No Life Advisor
Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld, People and Predators Fund, Tanzania


No Water No Life Expedition Coordinator and Researcher
Erin Vintinner, Masters Candidate, Columbia University

Expedition Location, Dates   ·   Participants   ·   Funding   ·   Purpose
Experience   ·   Techniques   ·   Results   ·   Biographies


The Expedition’s actual cost was partially funded by the Scott Pearlman Field Award and partially self-funded. Generous in-kind donations came from individuals and organizations including Erin Vintinner, Muench Photography Inc, Brent Foster (Columbia Riverkeeper) and Watts Brother Farms. Wings WorldQuest and The Explorers Club supported the Expedition by awarding it their Expedition Flags.


Scott Pearlman Field Award: 10% actual costs covered a video-cam and accessories)

Self-funding: 90% actual costs covered lodging for 82 team member days, airfare, gas & mileage for 4,700 miles, video and resource ecologist services, access fees and aerial flite, maps, field guides...)

In-kind Support came from:

  • Alison Jones Photography (photographic equipment and services, administrative and grant-writing services, office space & equipment, paper & printing, resource books, gift hats, food for 82 member days, air travel, communications, carbon offset fee)
  • Robin MacEwan (loan of Expedition vehicle, project coordination services)
  • Erin Vintinner (research and Expedition coordination services)
  • Muench Photography Inc (photographic equipment and services),
  • Watts Brothers Farms (helicopter for aerial photography)
  • Brent Foster, (Columbia River Keeper) (3 nights lodging for two)

Expedition Location, Dates   ·   Participants   ·   Funding   ·   Purpose
Experience   ·   Techniques   ·   Results   ·   Biographies


The Columbia River Basin is one of six North American and African watersheds being researched and documented by No Water No Life, a long-term documentary project that combines the power of photography with science, conservation and education. Its mission is to provoke and support paradigm shifts in water protection and consumption by individuals, communities and industries.

Having evolved from a sub-Sahara “Waters of Africa” photographic study in 2006, No Water No Life focuses on the quantity and quality of fresh water resources, demands on it and who controls it. “The shortage of fresh, clean water is the greatest danger to which mankind has ever been exposed,” according to the UN Human Rights Commission. Today almost half the world lives in stressed watersheds. Threats to water availability, usage and quality are potentially as devastating as climate change predictions. By 2050 when water usage is expected to double, 1.7 billion will suffer from hydrological poverty according to Earth Policy Institute estimates.

No Water No Life has chosen African and North American watersheds whose combined data can deliver a broad message from and to developed and developing nations, offer models for upstream-downstream solutions and open doors to river-to-river partnerships. The Columbia River Basin’s issues, ranging from threatened salmon populations to a vast dam infrastructure to environmentally-vocal tribal nations, offer compelling and comparative value to No Water No Life’s project.


No Water No Life goals are to use the watershed as a unit of analysis to:

Research and photograph the availability, usage and quality of North American and African fresh water supplies.

Publish documentation of functions and values of fresh water resources; demands on river systems; impacts of watershed degradation; and conservation solutions and alternatives.

Provide outreach and educational tools on documenting water resource issues that will foster watershed stewardship coalitions and support sustainable watershed policies across geopolitical boundaries.

No Water No Life chose the Columbia River Basin because it exemplified the following issues being considered its overall project:

  • Dams (for flood control, hydroelectric power and irrigation)
  • Decline of keystone species: the salmon
  • Glacial retreat /climate change
  • Water extraction (hydropower, agriculture, human consumption)
  • Timber extraction
  • Habitat loss / fragmentation (by developers, dams, commerce, etc.)
  • Transboundary issues
  • Recreation (fishing, hunting, boating camping, hiking, spiritual renewal)
  • Pollution (industry, mining, nuclear power, agribusiness, livestock and human effluent)
  • Restoration efforts

The goals for the Columbia River Basin Expedition were to research and use photography (still and video) to document this basins characteristics, notably:

  • Hydrologic Systems (headwaters/source, rivers, lakes, wetlands...)
  • Land Cover / Land Use (agriculture / silviculture, forest, development, impervious surfaces, steppe-shrubland...)
  • Geographic Features (rivers, mountains, lakes, gorges, valleys, plateaus...)
  • Biodiversity (including focus on species that are indicator, keystone, culturally significant, threatened, endangered, endemic, native /non-native, invasive...)
  • Habitat (riverine habitats and aerial, terrestrial and aquatic corridors...)
  • Climate (historic, current and predicted changes in precipitation, temperature, and seasonal/annual patterns...)
  • Human Impact, historically and currently (population, economy, socio- cultural patterns, infrastructure, governance, political environment, stakeholder actions, geo-political boundary issues, future development...)
  • Watershed Management

Expedition Location, Dates   ·   Participants   ·   Funding   ·   Purpose
Experience   ·   Techniques   ·   Results   ·   Biographies


See Attachment 3, Expedition Details: Itinerary with sites visited and contacts interviewed.

See Attachment 4, Expedition Photos.

METHODOLOGY: The Expedition approach was defined by the methodology No Water No Life uses for all its watershed case studies. Pre-Expedition study of published documents and research provided the “Basin Foci.” Regional contacts and resources sought out included conservation organizations, scientists, policy analysts, government agencies and commercial, public and private stakeholders. Their enthusiastic input and sharing of research documents formed the backbone of the Expedition’s itinerary and booking of meetings, interviews and tours.

The variety of ecosystems covered was stunning, from Rocky Mountain glaciers to scablands scraped by the Missoula Floods 10,000 years ago. Seventy-four interviews revealed keen environmental awareness throughout the watershed, often credited to Al Gore and concern that Katrina is just one of the first great social havocs to be wrought by climate change. Stakeholders had clear knowledge of environmental issues gained (especially through Internet research, networking, and public meetings) in their David-and-Goliath struggles against corporate and government proposals for LNG terminals, water bottling plants or increases in nuclear storage.

The Expedition team photographed graphic scenes of change and degradation. Superfund Sites, extensive logging, legal challenges to pollution headed to the US Supreme Court and a photographic exhibit of life on the river before dams were sobering. The retreating Columbia Icefield is one of the world’s major storehouses of fresh water, yet the visual reality of its “big meltdown” leads to questions of where the Columbia’s water will come from in the future. The fact that tree rings were widest in the pre-dam years of heavy salmon runs conveyed the nutrient value of this iconic, keystone species, no longer present in this watershed.

Despite grave concerns and daunting challenges, there were many reasons found for optimism within the watershed. Hikes along the Columbia River Gorge creeks offered testimony to the power of natural systems. Farmers, fishermen, tourism operators, politicians, scientists and children spoke of their commitment to protecting the watershed. On reaching the journey’s final destination of Cape Disappointment, the team was buoyed by a Chinook leader who shared his traditional views of the river’s values in a secluded cove sacred to his Nation. He was one of the many stewards of this watershed who are determined that the Columbia shall continue to “roll on.”

ADDITIONAL NOTES ON THE EXPERIENCE: There was very enthusiastic response from everyone contacted, each of whom passed us on to many others. The data they shared and their eagerness to be interviewed clearly validated the premise of our mission. Compared to African Expeditions with language and travel challenges, traveling logistics in the Pacific Northwest were simple. Canadians contacted by the Expedition, although still unhappy with the 1964 Columbia River Treaty terms set by the US, welcomed the team and their inquiries. In the US and Canada, unlike Africa, there is open access to almost all governmental properties, such as dams and nuclear sites.

And there was the toast to George, the Expedition’s host at a LNG protest rally:

There once was a sailor named George
Who hated the LNG forge.
He fought like a Viking
Which was to his liking
And scuttled the damnable scourge.

Expedition Location, Dates   ·   Participants   ·   Funding   ·   Purpose
Experience   ·   Techniques   ·   Results   ·   Biographies


PLANNING: This Expedition began with the choice of the Columbia River Basin to be included as one of No Water No Life’s six major watersheds to be studied. Selection of the Columbia River Basin and development of its “source to sea” Expedition followed the established No Water No Life Methodology outlining case study criteria, research subjects, contact sources and other step-by-step processes.

Unlike African watersheds No Water No Life is studying, no permits were needed either in Canada or the US to enter the area of, photograph or tour the dams. There were no language barriers; one could drive where and when one wanted without supervision; and lodging was easy to find, (including dorm rooms, youth hostels, cheap motels, and three nights in a straw bale house.)

SCHEDULE: Research dictated our itinerary and daily Expedition schedule. We traveled by car for over 4,700 miles, by helicopter over dams and Scablands, by ski plane over Lakes Chelan and Domke Lake, by ferry, by raft, by motorboat and on hiking trails. The team interviewed seventy-four of our resource contacts and were themselves interviewed by two journalist in British Columbia and one in Portland, Oregon. The daily routine included photographing, interviewing, writing field notes, backing up and captioning images, charging batteries, and communicating with the Expedition Coordinator, providing ongoing logistical support from project headquarters. There was only one day set aside for purely administrative work and one day off for a float trip down the Salmo River at the invitation of four Canadian fish biologists on the first day of fishing season!

ASSISTANCE: Throughout the Expedition, No Water No Life’s Expedition coordinator and researcher back in NYC guaranteed ongoing research and coordination with contacts while the team was in the field. No Water No Life’s Project Coordinator brought her expertise as a restoration ecologist and added a scientifically knowledgeable tone to the interviews. A videographer on the Canadian leg of the trip filmed interviews and captured footage of the watershed. An associate photographer added to the breadth of visual documentation. A local stakeholder joined us to provide a regional perspective.

Having this specialized assistance also helped in a more general sense with driving, rearranging itineraries when needed, organizing nightly battery backup, scoping out photo opportunities, and recording field notes.


• Try not to have an agenda other than documentation and presentation to the story and its truth. When interviewing others, be objective and neutral in order to most accurately capture the interviewee’s thoughts.

• For a thorough compilation of “Voices on the River,” interview environmental professionals, journalists, stakeholders, industry representatives, indigenous cultural representatives, historians, politicians and others, including students.

• Have a science-oriented professional and a videographer on the Expedition team.

• Have the following to give interviewees: a project business card, a 1-page project narrative and a project gift (such as a cap with embroidered project logo or a pen with the project’s name inscribed on it).

• Schedule interviews for midday to allow early and late light for photography

• Be prepared to change the itinerary as new contacts come up en route or established contacts change their plans. Have an Expedition Coordinator at project headquarters on call to facilitate such changes.

Expedition Location, Dates   ·   Participants   ·   Funding   ·   Purpose
Experience   ·   Techniques   ·   Results   ·   Biographies


See Attachment 5, Expedition Publicity: This front page article on Alison and the Expedition resulted from a journalist’s interview of her in Trail, British Columbia on June 18, 2007.

OBSERVATIONS: The increase of human population in the Columbia River Basin places a heavy demand on the Columbia River’s water resources, as well as hydropower, industry, agriculture, and recreation. This rising demand for water, as the Columbia Icefield’s glacial supply decreases, is causing higher regulations and greater restrictions on the river and its tributaries. The variety of national, provincial, First Nations, Tribal Nations and state jurisdictions, as well as the international, cultural and economic diversity of stakeholders creates a complex management challenge, yet this mix also balances water demands with a determination to insure continued supplies of clean fresh water.

DATA COLLECTED: Material collected on the No Water No Life’s Expedition includes 70 gigs of still photos and 27 hours of taped interviews representing “Voices of the River” for 2007. Team members filled two volumes of field notes and journals and were given valuable information in the form of CD’s, annual reports, books, brochures, slide show presentations and research reports. As well many scientists, stewardship leaders and conservation community groups are now connected to the mission of No Water No Life. The project will keep in contact with new friends and colleagues who served as such generous hosts.

UNANTICIPATED OBSERVATIONS, not obvious in pre-Expedition research:

• Many of the leading voices calling for protection of the Columbia River Basin come from First Nations in Canada and Tribal Nations from the U.S. They are committed to maintaining their cultural traditions and connections to the salmon.

• The powerful and plentiful grassroots organizations working for watershed protection and preservation that the team met and interviewed from source to sea are well informed, in large part thanks to the Internet and Google.

• Canada represents only 15% of the Basin, but provides 40% of the annual run-off for the entire system. British Columbia’s community conservation efforts are well-endowed by the Columbia Basin Trust’s “Water Initiative.” The Trust’s unique mechanism to ensuring the Basin residents’ values are informed and their views heard offers one of many valuable models for watershed stewardship encountered on this Expedition.

• Columbia Basin scientists and policy leaders with whom the team connected shared much more than data requested on issues and sites to photograph. They had a tale to tell that they wanted recorded – as did many other of our stakeholder contacts, from river residents fighting LNG terminals to artists honoring the salmon again swimming upstream due to a dam’s decommissioning. As a result of its Columbia River Basin Expedition’s experiences, No Water No Life’s goals have expanded. Beyond being a megaphone for scientists, No Water No Life will document data and stories collected by a much broader spectrum of the watershed’s stakeholders and stewards.

RETURN OBJECTIVES: No Water No Life Expeditions will return to the Columbia River Basin to collect additional interviews; obtain aerial photography of the watershed’s geological features, infrastructure and land; follow-up with documentation on dams being removed and dams being built; and give lectures and present exhibits.

CONCLUSIONS: The Columbia River Basin Expedition documented many global watershed threats, as well as strong restoration efforts to protect and preserve this fresh water resource. This data and imagery will be shared in exhibits, lectures, print publications and on the organization’s website in an effort to raise awareness of this river system’s issues and solutions. Results and conclusions from this Expedition will also be studied in comparison to the other five watersheds in No Water No Life’s study. Data, photos, stories interviews, processes and other outcomes from the Columbia River Basin Expedition will become part of No Water No Life’s larger project outputs including print publications, development of student curriculum and coalition building.

Expedition Location, Dates   ·   Participants   ·   Funding   ·   Purpose
Experience   ·   Techniques   ·   Results   ·   Biographies


Expedition Participants

Alison M. Jones, Project Director and Lead Photographer

Alison M. Jones has photographed for over 20 years in Africa, mostly for conservation and development programs. As she copiloted over thousands of miles of Africa’s rivers and lakeshores, she saw them as ribbons of life, and became immersed in studying global issues of water. She founded No Water No Life, LLC, as a nonprofit project using the power of photography to help disseminate scientists and conservationists’ warnings of watershed degradation and to publicize successful stewardship programs. Her images are found in magazines, television, books, workshops, lectures, and exhibits. Granted an Honorary Masters Degree in Photography from Brooks Institute, she is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photography, on the Board of North American Nature Photography Association and member of ASMP, the Explorers Club and TechnoServe (a development NGO). She is a founding supporter of Kenya’s Mara Conservancy and currently enrolled at Columbia University’s Center for Environmental Research and Conservation. Her web site is

Robin MacEwan, Project Coordinator,
Environmental Resource Manager

Robin MacEwan is a restoration ecologist who specializes in wetland, riparian and upland environmental restoration and mitigation. Robin’s background includes development of environmental resource assessments and management plans, restoration and mitigation site design, wetland delineation, nonnative invasive species management, and mitigation site maintenance and monitoring. Robin has an M.S. in Resource Management from Antioch University New England and an M.A. in Landscape Design from the Conway School of Landscape Design.

Bonnie Muench, Landscape Photographer,
Book Designer, Painter

“Painting and drawing had always been a part of my life growing up in Wisconsin. Four years of study in Illustration and Advertising at Art Center College of Design for a Bachelor of Arts led to work at McCann Erickson-Hakuhodo and the Koedi Studio in Japan. Back in Santa Barbara I have designed 30 large format landscape photography books for David Muench Photography Inc. Photography became a large part of my life with photo trips to mountains, deserts, forests and oceans. Travels to the Antarctic, Africa, Asia and India have deepened my knowledge of our planet’s limited resources. I focus my work on communicating the interconnected landscape of earth, air and water.” Her web site is

Fritha Pengelly, Videographer

Fritha Pengelly received her M.F.A. in dance from the University of Washington and her B.A. in dance from Hampshire College. Fritha spent seven years (1994-2001) performing and teaching nationally and internationally as a member of the New York City-based Doug Elkins Dance Company. In addition to her work with the Elkins Company, Fritha has performed with The Chamber Dance Company, David Neumann, and Wire Monkey Dance. Her own work has been shown at several venues in New York City, The Five Colleges in Massachusetts, Darien Arts Center (CT), Seattle, and at the Inside/Out Series at Jacob’s Pillow. She is the Artistic Director of Pengelly:Projects, which presented its first full evening of work in Northampton, Massachusetts in July 2004. Her current artistic focus is exploring issues related to earth, environmental ethics, and our modern predicament through dance and video. Fritha was a visiting assistant professor of dance at Hampshire College from 2002-2004. She is also a certified Pilates Instructor and is currently a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Jay Wiener, Lawyer and Columbia River Basin Stakeholder

Jay Wiener is a U.S. attorney who maintains a second home in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. As a part-time Canadian, he is keenly interested in the culture, environment and politics of Canada. He has longstanding ties to the Columbia River Valley from his years as an undergraduate at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. A native Mississippian, his Southerner’s love of the land makes him a committed environmentalist motivated to ensure that the world we leave to future generations is not diminished by unsustainable, unwise choices and policies.

Expedition Advisors

Robin Sears, Ph.D., Project Science Advisor

Robin R. Sears is a forest ecologist and dean at the School for Field Studies, an environmental field study abroad program based in Salem, Massachusetts. She has fifteen years’ experience working with smallholder farmers in tropical rainforest countries on issues related to agriculture and forestry production, development, and biodiversity conservation. Her research is on ecological and land use dynamics at the aquatic-terrestrial interface in seasonally flooded environments along the Amazon River and its major tributaries. Having climbed four glacial peaks in the Andes and Mexico, kayaked on the coasts of Canada and the US, and hiked along and fished in innumerable mountain streams around the world, Robin appreciates the critical and complex nature of freshwater services.

Thomas Stoneback, Ph.D., Project Advisor

As a scientist, publisher and entrepreneur, Tom Stoneback was Chief Environmental Officer for Rodale, Inc., for 25 years. A national environmental leader, Dr. Stoneback focuses on economics, the environment and its sustainability. Dr. Stoneback is a communications industry leader and a direct/interactive marketing expert who has established seven successful non-profit organizations focused on community impact, civic health, and quality of life.

Laly Lichtenfeld, Ph.D., Project Advisor

Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld is the executive director and co-founder of the People & Predators Fund, an international non-profit based in Tanzania and New Jersey. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for her unique work describing human-lion relationships and conflict in Tanzania. Laly lives in northern Tanzania in the village of Loibor Siret on the boundary of Tarangire National Park with her partner and PPF co-founder, Charles Trout. She has worked extensively with the Maasai and Hadzabe to reduce human-wildlife conflict and is an African lion specialist. Last year, PPF made history when it was the first non-profit in Tanzania to be donated village land for a field center. A passionate conservationist, Laly spends every possible moment working in the bush in the Tarangire and Selous-Niassa ecosystems. She has been featured in a program aired on Discovery Channel Canada, is a recipient of the Fulbright Award, and is currently working on writing her first book. Laly feels fortunate to be living her life’s dream every day that she wakes up.

Expedition Research And Coordination

Erin Vintinner, Research and Expedition Coordinator

After a childhood spent combing the beaches and woods of Massachusetts, Erin was inspired by a truly remarkable high school biology teacher to enter the life sciences. She graduated from Boston University in 2001 with a BA in Biology and initially pursued a career in molecular and cellular biology. However, after two internships with the Student Conservation Association involving Pacific salmon research in Sitka, AK and Eugene, OR, Erin found her true calling in ecology and conservation biology. She is currently completing her Masters degree in Conservation Biology at Columbia’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology. Erin is very excited to join the No Water No Life team as a research assistant.