Columbia River Basin

Upper CRB ’08 Expedition Report Summary

Wings WorldQuest Flag Thirteen (13)


“Water is the driver of nature.” – Leonardo da Vinci

UPPER COLUMBIA RIVER BASIN EXPEDITION

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TITLE OF EXPEDITION

Upper Columbia River Basin Expedition:
Exploration of Freshwater Values and Management Solutions
for No Water No Life, LLC

WHO: Alison M. Jones and the No Water No Life Team

WHAT: To share research and imagery of North American and African freshwater values, degradation and management and to further document such local issues

WHERE: Upper Columbia River Basin in B.C. Canada’s Kootenay region,

WHY: To raise awareness of the commonality of global freshwater issues of availability, usage and quality and foster partnerships upstream and downstream.

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Expedition maps

See Maps of the Columbia River Basin
 

DATES OF EXPEDITION

August 4 – August 20, 2008

LOCATION OF EXPEDITION

See MAPS, The Columbia River Basin.

Alison M. Jones, Director and Lead Photographer of No Water No Life, carried Wings WorldQuest Flag #13 on the project’s second expedition to the Upper Columbia River Basin. The team explored Canada’s 15% portion of the 40-million-year-old transboundary Columbia River Basin; opened a photo exhibit; and met with stakeholders. Focus was on the river’s headwaters, wetlands and conservation efforts affecting the 9 lakes, 10 tributaries and 4 mountain ranges visited. The goals were to raise awareness of freshwater issues; foster stewardship partnerships; and document local conservation and freshwater management solutions.

I. A TRANSBOUNDARY WATERSHED

The Columbia River flows for 1,243 miles through British Columbia, Canada, into Washington and Oregon, US. As North America’s fourth largest river by volume, its watershed spans 1 Canadian province, 7 U.S. states and 11 tribal nations, an area larger than France. Today, over 15 million people rely on its fresh water for livelihood and recreation.

The international boundary that divides the Columbia River was a result of compromise following efforts by the US and Britain to maintain access to the Columbia River. In 1818, the U.S. proposed extending the border to the coast along the 49th parallel, thereby keeping its investments along the southern Columbia River. Following the British rejection of this offer, there was joint occupancy in the area known as “Oregon Country” between 1828 and 1838. Strong U.S. sentiment for keeping the disputed Oregon Territory, which included most of today’s British Columbia, supported James Polk’s 1844 campaign slogan, “Fifty-four forty [5440’] or fight.” However the 1846 compromise returned to the original 1818 proposal for a boundary along the 49th parallel drawn to the Strait of Georgia.

II. THE UPPER COLUMBIA RIVER BASIN

Now only 15% of the Columbia River Basin lies in Canada. Today it is the least developed, most wild section, which includes the Columbia Wetlands, headwaters of the Columbia River. During the last ice age, from 17,000 to 9,000 BC, the Cordilleran Ice Sheet covered this Upper Columbia River Basin. Today, the Upper Columbia and its wetlands are still fed by remaining glaciers now called the Columbia Icefield. This mass of ice, covering a high plateau between Mount Columbia and Mount Athabasca, is located between Banff and Jasper National Parks. At a depth of 2000 feet (365 meters) this Columbia Icefield represents the largest accumulation of snow and ice in the Rocky Mountains.

As defined by the “u-shaped” final loop of the Kootenay River and the “n-shaped” initial loop of the Columbia River, the Kootenay region is essentially an island the size of England. The Columbia River’s northward reach up to Donald and Kinbasket Lake meanders through the Rocky Mountain Trench, at altitudes ranging from 2000 to 3000 feet (600 to 900 meters) above sea level. This valley ranges from 2 to 10 miles (3 to 15 kilometers) in width and includes Columbia Lake, Windermere Lake and the Columbia Wetlands, designated as a RAMSAR Wetlands site of international significance. A crucial migratory bird habitat, it is home to over 60 endangered species. The Columbia Wetlands becomes a river near Golden, where the waterway bends westward around the northern tip of the Selkirk Mountains and then heads south along the Selkirk, Purcell and Monashee Mountains and finally across into the United States at the 49th parallel.

III. HUMAN HISTORY in the UPPER COLUMBIA RIVER BASIN

In the early 1800’s Canadian David Thompson, an explorer, geographer, cartographer and surveyor, was the first to explore this Upper Columbia region. Several decades later, in 1849, mining began here as forests were burned to search for minerals and cut for building railways and towns, and for fuel.

Humans have long benefited, prior to and since, the mining boom from hunting, trapping, mining and timbering in the East Kootenay region and agriculture, cattle ranching, mining, forestry and power generation in the West Kootenay region. Today, most of the unsettled lands of the watershed are diverse, forested ecosystems with Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine in the drier southern forests and, further north, Engelmann and white spruce, western red cedar, mountain hemlock, birch, aspen, and cottonwood.

IV. SITE NAMES of specific geographic features documented:

LAKES

Columbia Lake (headwaters of the Columbia River)

Elizabeth Lake

Kinbasket Lake

Kootenay Lake: North, South and West Arms

Loon Bay

Olive Lake (in Kootenay National Park)

Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes

Slocan Lake

Windermere Lake

WETLANDS

Columbia Wetlands

Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area

TRIBUTARIES

Beaver River

Blanket Creek

Carpenter Creek

Kicking Horse River

Kokanee Creek

Kootenay River

Moyie River

Mulvehill Creek

Salmo River

Vermillion River

MOUNTAIN RANGES

Canadian Rocky Mountains

Selkirk Mountains

Purcell Mountains

Monashee Mountains

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EXPEDITION PARTICIPANTS

ON EXPEDITION:

No Water No Life Project Director and Lead Photographer
Alison M. Jones, Alison Jones Photography, New York City, USA

No Water No Life Researcher and Upper Columbia River Basin Liaison
Kalista Pruden, Lethbridge University, CANADA

EXPEDITION ADVISORY AND RESEARCH TEAM:

No Water No Life Science Advisor
Dr. Robin Sears, Dean of School of Field Studies, Boston, Mass.

No Water No Life Project Coordinator
Robin MacEwan, Restoration Ecologist at Stantec, Northampton, Mass.

No Water No Life Expedition Base Manager
Jasmine Graf, Office Manager at Alison Jones Photography, New York City

No Water No Life Columbia River Basin Researcher
Erin Vintinner, Conservation Biologist at the American Museum of Natural History, New York City

Exhibit Consultant and Printer
Mark Lukes, Photographer and Owner of Fine Print Imaging, Fort Collins, Col.

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EXPEDITION SPONSORS AND FUNDING

FUNDING: The expedition’s travel costs were self-funded. Generous discounts in printing exhibit photographs were granted by Fine Print Imaging. In-kind donations came from individuals and organizations including Kootenay Gallery, Val and Pat Field, Kalista Pruden, Robin MacEwan, Erin Vintinner and Alison Jones Photography. Appreciation is also extended to all those who graciously gave time for interviews.

SPONSORS: WINGS WorldQuest supported the expedition by awarding it their Expedition Flag. As well, WINGS WorldQuest is the fiscal sponsor for No Water No Life.

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EXPEDITION WATERSHED DOCUMENTATION TECHNIQUE

Still photography, video and interviews were documentary tools utilized on this return expedition to the Columbia River Basin. No Water No Life methodology for all its case-study watersheds begins with research. The project’s in-house research report, data from its 2007 source-to-sea expedition along the Columbia River and ongoing monitoring of the local freshwater issues determined this expedition’s foci.

Contacts were made with scientists, policy analysts, representatives of tourism and recreation industries impacting waterways, curators and concerned stakeholders. Travel through three mountain ranges, three Canadian National Parks and numerous Provincial Parks was mostly by car. Ferries spreading fish fertilizer in dammed reservoirs were also used. Hiking allowed photographic access to significant hydrologic sites. Locales visited included natural, historical, industrial, mining, cultural and recreational sites.

While the expedition arranged its own lengthy interviews with significant resource contacts, British Columbia newspapers twice interviewed Project Director/Expedition Leader Alison M. Jones regarding her No Water No Life exhibit and lecture.

The expedition’s daily routine included photographing, interviewing, writing field notes, backing up and captioning images, and researching the “lay of the land.” Locales sought out included historical, industrial, mining, cultural and recreational sites. As discussed in “Expedition Experiences,” these included an historic silver mine that has re-opened, an off-the-grid resort, a privately-maintained electro-hydro dam, a wetlands museum and national and provincial parks.

The only technical revision that would be made to this expedition in hindsight would be to extend the dates in order to allow more time for photography, meeting contacts and sheer enjoyment of the beauty of these upstream reaches of the Columbia! Of course, that would have required a more serious funding effort.

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Documentation Technique   ·   Purpose   ·   Results   ·   Biographies

PURPOSE OF EXPEDITION

I. HYDROLOGIC VALUES AND FUNCTIONS

The expedition documented the Columbia River’s interior temperate rainforest, headwaters, wetlands and wild freshwater streams draining the surrounding mountain ranges. The 58,575-acre Columbia Wetlands is one of the longest intact wetlands in North America and a critical Pacific Flyway habitat. Threats include climate change, timbering, pine beetle infestation, dams, habitat loss/fragmentation and water pollution. Purification and storage functions of these floodplains benefit 11 million people downstream. Thus, this wetland is a RAMSAR Wetlands Site of international significance.

Many wetlands and their services are now lost to dams or development. No Water No Life’s summary of values and functions of wetlands includes the following:

Source of Photosynthesis and Beneficial Nutrients. Fisheries, migrating birds and species seeking seasonal habitats are nourished by wetlands.

Flood Regulation. Wetlands control of rain, snowmelt and floodwater releases is a more effective and less costly mitigation than man-made dams. High flood risks will continue to increase as wetlands are lost and degraded.

Groundwater Recharge. Wetlands re-supply nature’s water storage tanks.

Filtration. Wetlands absorption of nitrogen and phosphorous provides cleaner water downstream for drinking water supplies, aquifers and reservoirs. As well, silt deposits from upstream erosion are settled out, filtered and trapped.

Climate Regulation. Wetlands absorption of heat during the day and release of heat at night moderates local climates.

Carbon Sequestration. Many wetlands – especially those that are forested or defined by organic soils – harbor carbon within their plant communities and soils and thus reduce climate change effects.

Sustenance Provision. Wetlands have traditionally supplied food, water, fiber, medicinal products and timber for construction and fuel.

Cultural Values. Aesthetic, spiritual, recreational and educational values of wetlands have nourished human populations through the ages.

The chart below created by No Water No Life shows the increasing need for wetlands functions in mitigating flooding downstream. The Columbia Wetlands stewardship has been held up as a model for other wetlands worldwide facing increasing needs for flood control.

Chart of Increasing Rates of Wordwide Floods

Interview with Ellen Zimmerman: This stakeholder, transplanted from New York City many decades ago, spearheaded application efforts that gained international recognition of the importance of the Columbia Wetlands from the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. One result of the increased awareness this intergovernmental treaty’s designation has engendered is the fact that today 95% of the Columbia Wetlands remains in its natural, dynamic state. Fighting resort development, golf-course pesticides and motorized boats, Zimmerman works with 35 stakeholder groups, hunters, foresters and all governmental levels.

Kalista Pruden Interview: The expedition gleaned additional information on the Columbia Wetlands from its video interview with Kalista Pruden who has spent two years working on Wildsight’s Water Quality Monitoring Project in the Columbia Wetlands while getting her degree in Environmental Studies at Lethbridge College. Wildsight’s publicity sums up Pruden’s view of the future of the Columbia Wetlands:

Wildsight feels strongly that the long-term sustainability of the ecological and scenic and recreational values of the Columbia Wetlands will closely depend on the day-to-day stewardship of local residents and visitors. Today, despite their internationally recognized significance, the Columbia Wetlands still face threats from urban development, inappropriate recreational disturbance, invasive plant species, chemical pollution, domestic sewage disposal and other unacceptable practices.

II. TRANSBOUNDARY RIGHTS

In 2014 British Columbia plans to renegotiate the 1964 Columbia River Treaty with the U.S. Despite joint benefits of flood control and hydropower to British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, this is one of the most controversial water agreements ever signed in Canada. Many Canadians have felt left out of a political process that has greatly impacted their lives. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bonneville Power Administration and B.C. Hydro are currently addressing post-2024 treaty provisions. The first phase of this study should be ready in the spring of 2009. No Water No Life continues to study and compare this process with those occurring in other transboundary watersheds, particularly the 10-nation Nile River Basin.

III. MODELS OF STEWARDSHIP AND CONSERVATION

A significant focus was on Darkwoods, a newly-purchased property with 136,000 acres, 17 watersheds, numerous streams and wet meadows, 50 lakes and unspoiled lakefront. With no commercial water extraction, this property provides clean fresh water, purified and filtered by its forests for flora, fauna (including fish) and human species downstream. This April 2008 conservation purchase by the Nature Conservancy of Canada is the largest in Canadian history. Meetings with its Project Director Pat Field highlighted management opportunities. His team will institute adaptive measures that address climate change and will work with contiguous protected areas to benefit freshwater quality downstream, a Forest Service Lookout on the property has been accumulating snow pillow data for the last 70 years. This will allow a long-term analysis of climate change within the region.

The No Water No Life team documented local educational signage. In Waldie Environmental Reserve, self-explanatory signs and interpretive stops focus on its complex riparian ecosystem. They explain both the history of the area’s sawmills, steamships and railroads and the ecological values of this free-flowing reach of the Columbia River.

Combining informative signs on invasive plants with community “weed-pulls,” several stewardship groups have built an army of residents removing invasive flora. Target species vary by region, but include spotted knapweed, diffuse knapweed, greater knapweed, Dalmatian toadflax, rush skeletonweed, oxeye daisy, sulphur cinquefoil, field scabious, common tansy, Canada thistle, yellow flag iris, policeman’s helmet, purple loosestrife, and Scotch broom.

Other signage addresses 17 million acres of B.C. forests infected by the mountain pine beetle. Signs explain that climate change and misdirected forest management exacerbate today’s infestations, abnormal in scale and duration. The signage along Kootenay Lake states:

Mountain pine beetles prefer mature lodgepole pine trees, typically 80 years old or more. Under normal conditions the beetles help weed out the older, weaker trees so forests can regenerate faster. But recent conditions have been anything but normal. Mature lodgepole pine in B.C. has tripled since 90 years ago, in part due to successful fire fighting, so our forests are more susceptible. A decade of mild winters have allowed an unusually large percentage of beetle larvae to survive – with mortality rates as low as 10 per cent instead of the usual 80 per cent. And recent hot, dry summers have weakened trees through drought stress and made them less resistant to attack. All this has created ideal conditions for the epidemic to take hold.

Other signs throughout the Upper Columbia River Basin describe management solutions include harvesting dead trees and mixing tree species and ages. A study in Nature showed that the pine-beetle plague has turned British Columbia’s forest from a carbon sink into a massive carbon emitter, estimated to be at levels of up to 990 megatons between 2000 and 2020. This theory makes the mountain pine beetle infestation grow into a vicious cycle: the beetle thrives in warmer climes and its vast deforestation creates even greater global warming.

IV. OUTREACH THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY

No Water No Life’s lecture and photographic exhibit at Castlegar’s Kootenay Gallery focused on North American and African freshwater values and watershed degradation. The exhibit included 32 images: several for each of the project’s six case-study watersheds and for six conceptual issues being studied by the project. Emphasis was on management solutions that could be applied upstream and downstream, in other river basins and on other continents. Commentary on the walls that accompanied the images and a 16-page booklet created for the exhibit expanded this exhibit experience into an educational experience. A lecture by Project Director/Expedition Leader, Alison M. Jones, was equally well received. Both outputs fit into the project’s mission to raise public awareness.

(For the publicity announcement, see http://www.nowater-nolife.org/updates/2008-08-exhibit/. For newspaper coverage, see http://www.nowater-nolife.org/press/Kootenay2008/.)

“Remembering Renata” a cultural exhibit in an adjoining room of the Kootenay Gallery presented a sobering history of Renata, a town settled in 1897 but now under the waters of the Lower Arrow Lake Reservoir created by the Hugh Keenleyside Dam in 1968. Renata, formerly serviced by steam wheelers and ferries, was a lakeside community with a school, church, hotel, store, mill and box factory. As well as Renata, nearly 150 archeological sites of the Sinixt First Nation and 32,000 acres (12,950 hectares) of rich valley bottomland were flooded at this time.

Both Exhibits Focus on Transboundary Issues: In addressing issues of the dam’s negative effects on human communities, fish, plant life and wildlife, this exhibit reinforced many of the messages of No Water No Life’s exhibit. The Renata exhibit exemplified how an extensive network of both U.S. and Canadian dams along the Columbia, established in accordance with the Columbia River Treaty, has permanently altered this watershed. A hundred years ago the Columbia River was a commercial highway with its bed dredged and widened for log booms and small steamers as a consequence of forest extraction supporting the 1849 mining boom. Now on the main-stem Columbia’s 1,243 miles (2000 kilometers), 800 miles (1,287 kilometers) are now impounded behind a series of fourteen hydropower and storage dams.

In response to these impacts, concerned Canadians banded together in 1995 to form the Columbia Basin Trust which received a $295 million endowment of the downstream benefits spelled out in the Columbia Basin Trust and $2 million a year (up to 2012) from the province of B.C. The purpose of this funding is to bring some of the dams’ benefits into the local region and educate stakeholders on issues to be raised in the 2014 Columbia River Treaty negotiations. (No Water No Life’s 2007 expedition team interviewed several influential stewards involved with the founding and administration of the Columbia Basin Trust and continues to follow their actions.)

V. FOSTERING WATERSHED PARTNERSHIPS

The team sought interviews with stakeholders and stewards who could supplement No Water No Life’s research to be shared with managers here and in other watersheds. These interviews provided a wealth of information for No Water No Life’s documentation:

Pat Field is not only the new Project Manager of Darkwoods, as has been described earlier, but is also a biologist and a sculptor. Thus, discussions and a video interview included the relationship of art and science in conservation. This was a continuation of the conversation between No Water No Life and Pat Field during the project’s first expedition through B.C. in June 2007. At that time, the expedition team was shown a “transboundary bench” sculpted by Field from a large fallen log to facilitate communications amongst conservationists gathered from around the world in order to promote peace.

Gerry Nellestjin, coordinator of the Salmo Streamkeepers Watershed Society, was trained in cultural anthropology and environmental management. He has worked in fisheries research, habitat restoration and watershed-based planning in the Salmo watershed for twelve years. In Spring 2008 he received the Fraser Basin Council BC Interior Stewardship Award for Ecosystems Excellence in recognition of his innovative approach to watershed stewardship, protection and enhancement of interior stream resources and his promotion of public awareness, understanding and concern for the management of the Salmo River Watershed.

Kalista Pruden is a Program Assistant for Water Awareness at Wildsight and is a recent graduate from Lethbridge University with an MA in Environmental Studies. She talked of the importance of advocacy and how to reach and raise eco-consciousness of student populations. She agreed to be the No Water No Life liaison to the Upper Columbia River Basin and research upstream-downstream issues for the project. She will use such research to write an article for No Water No Life on the transboundary connections on the Columbia and then hopefully go on to compare that analysis to issues faced by the ten nations in the Nile River Basin (another of our case-study watersheds).

Rick Chartraw is manager of Kinbasket Lake Resort, which is perched on a steep spit of land where the Columbia and Beaver Rivers meet and overlooks a man-made, dammed reservoir. Here, 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Golden, the lower hills of the Rocky Mountain, Selkirk and Purcell Ranges descend so sharply, that pre-dam, early explorers wrote in their journals that there was no place to camp.

René J. Hueppi: This owner of Mulvehill Creek Wilderness Inn, a four-season resort on Upper Arrow Lake, has received many honors, including the first Tourism BC Environmentally Responsible Tourism Award; the Starfish Award from Oceans Blue Foundation; and the designation “Power Smart Green Hotel PLUS” from BC Hydro.

Takaia Larson, curator of the “Remembering Renata” exhibit, shared with No Water No Life her knowledge of the history of pollution by Teck Cominco, Ltd., a zinc smelting industry on the Columbia River 9 miles below Castlegar. Her MA Thesis research was on female labor during WW II at Teck Cominco (then Consolidated Mining and Smelting).

Anne DeGrace, a British Columbia author, fictionalized the last weeks of Renata before the Hugh Keenleyside Dam flooded that community fifty years ago in a novel titled Treading Water. No Water No Life taped the reading of that novel. The memories it evoked were so powerful that many elder former residents of Renata who were in the audience and had lived in Renata as children left in tears.

The expedition’s services to Columbia River Basin stakeholders included providing photographs for conservation publications and connecting Canadian scientists with U.S. counterparts so that they can all become stronger advocates upstream and downstream. No Water No Life believes that establishment of upstream/downstream partnerships is critical to successful holistic approaches to preserving watershed values and functions.

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EXPEDITION RESULTS

UNEXPECTED FINDINGS

Gypsum In Canal Flats: While exploring this headwaters area that separates the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers by a berm and a mere mile (1.5 kilometers), No Water No Life stumbled across the Georgia Pacific Canada, Inc. Gypsum Plant. There were massive piles of local, crushed and sized gypsum (calcium sulphate) brought from local quarries (open pit mines) waiting to be shipped via a railroad spur here on to Georgia Pacific’s wallboard plant in Edmonton and Surrey.

Mining in Sandon: No Water No Life visited this silver-mining ghost town in the Selkirk Mountains between the Columbia River Basin’s Slocan and Kootenay watersheds and found that Klondike Silver Corporation reopened mining here for galena ore in 2008.

Intensity of the Photographic Experience in the Kootenays: An excerpt from the journal of Alison M. Jones, Expedition Leader, after her week in the Columbia Wetlands listening to loons, photographing the moon resting on a Canadian Rockies peak and tripping over berry-laden bear poop:

EPA photographer of the 1930’s Dorothea Lange wrote, “You put your camera around your neck in the morning, along with putting on your shoes, and there it is, an appendage of the body that shares your life with you.” I actually awoke in the middle of the night trying to figure out how to take my camera off my shoulder so I could turn over in bed. I’d not actually gone to bed with my camera, but subconsciously the camera had become that “appendage” Lange refers to.

ADVICE FOR OTHERS

An itinerary like this should be a “work in progress,” ready to be changed when unexpected valuable sources or detours pop up.

Interviewees should be video-ed in settings connected to their work, but the first priority is always to find quiet locales.

Anti-mosquito defense is definitely needed in wetlands at sunset! Also pack bear spray and be bear-aware. Camera focus is sharper and the call of the loons is more fully appreciated when team members are protected from such attacks.

Photographs are more effective as documentary tools when a secondary issue is included in each image. For the best photographs, be willing to wait for that “golden light.”

ASSESSMENT ON THE EXPEDITION EXPERIENCE

There were very enthusiastic welcomes on our return from stakeholders and stewards contacted on the 2007 expedition. They expressed appreciation that No Water No Life has publicized their issues, as well as their interest and often awe at the similar as well as disparate issues faced by stakeholders in No Water No Life’s five other case-study watersheds.

In 2007 No Water No Life reported that the willingness of scientists and stakeholders to share data and their eagerness to be interviewed clearly validated the premise of the project’s mission. The success of this second Columbia River Basin expedition, in terms validating No Water No Life’s mission, stems from offering information and publicity to both watershed agencies and individual stewards and from introducing stakeholders to each other, often across national boundaries.

No Water No Life’s services to Columbia River Basin stakeholders range from providing photographs for publications to raise stakeholder awareness to connecting Canadian scientists at Wildsight with the US Columbia Riverkeeper in Oregon so they could learn about each others’ work and thus become stronger advocates. No Water No Life believes that the establishment of upstream and downstream partnerships is a critical link in successful holistic approaches to preserving the values and functions of a watershed.

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TEAM BIOGRAPHIES

Expedition Participants



Alison M. Jones, Project Director and Lead Photographer, Conservation Photographer

NWNL Expeditions: Columbia River Basin (’07, ’08); Omo River Basin (’05, ’07, ’08); Blue Nile River Basin (’04, ’07); Mississippi River Basin (two in ’08), Raritan River Basin (ongoing), Mara River Basin (1985-2005)

Alison M. Jones is a conservation photographer who has documented ecosystems and their management for over 20 years in Africa and the Americas. After copiloting over thousands of miles of Africa’s vital rivers and lakeshores with a camera always at the ready, she became immersed in studying global issues of water. She founded No Water No Life ® in 2006 to raise public awareness of freshwater issues by combining the powers of photography and science. 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 images are found in magazines, television, books, workshops, lectures, and exhibits. Her web site is alisonjonesphoto.com.



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.



Robin MacEwan, Project Coordinator,
Environmental Resource Management

On the NWNL 2007 Columbia River Basin and 2008 Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Expeditions. Coordinated the 2008 Omo River Basin Expedition

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.



Erin Vintinner, Research Consultant
Conservation Biologist

Researched the Columbia, Omo and Blue Nile River Basins

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 recently completed her Masters degree in Conservation Biology at Columbia’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology. She now works at the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History. Erin is very excited to continue her work as a research consultant for No Water No Life.