Mississippi River Basin

Greater Yellowstone ’08 Expedition Report

Expedition Dates, Location, Participants, Funding   ·   About NWNL   ·   Watershed Description
Background & Study Goals   ·   Techniques   ·   Experience   ·   Results   ·   Participants   ·   Species Lists


Title of Expedition: Mississippi River Basin’s Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

WHO: Alison M. Jones and Robin MacEwan

WHAT: Research on freshwater availability, usage and quality of the headwaters of significant tributaries in the Mississippi River Basin

WHERE: Montana and Wyoming

WHY: To raise awareness of values, degradation and conservation of headwater regions within North America’s Mississippi River Basin

Map of the expedition route

See Expedition Map

Location of Expedition:

The expedition focused on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the northern temperate zone’s largest ecosystem remaining that is nearly intact. Documentation was on the eastern side of the Continental Divide within the upper Mississippi River Basin. It included the Gallatin, Madison and Jefferson River Basins; their confluence that forms the beginning of the Missouri River (45°55’36” N, 111°30’20” W); the Yellowstone River Basin within Yellowstone National Park; and the Beartooth Highway that crosses Wyoming and Montana. The geographic features in these headwater regions included rivers, lakes, wetlands, estuaries, mountains, alpine plateaus, valleys, hot springs, waterfalls and canyons.

Site names of specific geographic features researched and documented:


Antelope Creek

Gallatin River

Gardner River

Jefferson River

Lamar River

Madison River

Missouri River

Slough Creek

Soda Butte Creek

Pebble Creek

Yellowstone River


Abrasoka Range

Beartooth Mountains

Madison Range

Mount Washburn, 10,243 ft.

Upper Rocky Mountains


Gallatin River wetlands

Yellowstone River wetlands near Obsidian Cliffs


Earthquake Lake, Madison Co., MT (44.8291 N, 111.4258 W, elevation 6450 ft.)

Hebgen Lake, Gallatin Co., MT (44.8638 N, 111.3352 W, elevation 6531.3 ft.)

Yellowstone Lake: headwaters lake for the Yellowstone River
(42°45’49” N, 89°58’40” W/42.763542 N, 89.977849 W, elevation 7731 ft.)
136 sq. miles surface area, 87,040 acres, 110 miles shoreline, 124 tributaries
140 ft. average depth, 400 ft. maximum depth


Antelope Creek Valley, Yellowstone N.P.

Hayden Valley, Yellowstone N.P., 44.6438 N, 110.45557700 W, elevation 7700 ft.

Lamar Valley, Yellowstone N.P., 44.90268 N, 110.26539 W, elevation 6520 ft.

Soda Butte Creek Valley, Yellowstone N. P.


Beartooth Pass and Plateau, Park Co. WY, 44.9691 N, 109.4716 W, elevation 10,974 ft.

Geothermal Features
Mud pots
West Thumb Geyser Basin, 44.98 N, 110.69 W

Yellowstone River Canyon
Upper Falls (109 foot drop) 44.71241 N, 110.50033 W, elevation 7700 ft.
Lower Falls (308 foot drop) 44°43’03” N, 110°29’42” W, elevation 7600 ft.

Information on Yellowstone National Park, designated a National Park in 1872, an International Biosphere Reserve in 1976 and a World Heritage Site in 1978:


3,472 square miles; 2,219,789 square acres

63 miles north to south; 54 miles east to west

Larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined


Highest point: 11,358 feet (Eagle Peak)

Lowest point: 5,282 feet (Reese Creek)

LAND COVER (1,700 native flora species, 170 exotic and nonnative species)

80% – forested (8 conifer tree species)

15% – meadow and grassland

5% (approx) – water, with approximately 290 waterfalls 15 feet or over flowing year-round

WILDLIFE (largest concentration of non-captive wildlife in lower 48 states and within the global temperate zone) (see Attachment 2)

Amphibian species – 4

Bird species – 311 (148 nesting species) (See Bird Species List)

Fish species – 18 (6 nonnative)

Mammal species – 50 (approx.) (See Mammal Species List)
bear species – 2
canid species – 4
ungulate species – 6

Reptile species – 6


21 affiliated American Indian tribes

Dates of Expedition:

The expedition was conducted from May 26 to June 3, 2008. This was the second 2008 Mississippi River Basin expedition for No Water No Life. (The first was to the Yazoo-Mississippi River Delta in Coahoma County, Mississippi in February 2008.) Focused on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s ecosystem values, this expedition’s imagery, research and contacts establish a base for further research, for future expeditions to headwaters of tributaries within the Mississippi River Basin and for comparison to the five other watersheds being studied by No Water No Life. Dates for return expeditions to this region are to be determined.

Expedition Participants (see Attachment 1):

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

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

Expedition Advisory and Research Team:

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

No Water No Life Advisors
Dr. Thomas Stoneback, Communications Industry
Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld, Executive Director of People and Predators Fund

No Water No Life Research Consultant
Erin Vintenner, American Museum of Natural History

No Water No Life Research Team
Alison M. Jones, Conservation Photographer
Robin MacEwan, Restoration Ecologist

Expedition Funding:

The expedition was funded through private and in-kind donations and with its own funds.

Expedition Dates, Location, Participants, Funding   ·   About NWNL   ·   Watershed Description
Background & Study Goals   ·   Techniques   ·   Experience   ·   Results   ·   Participants   ·   Species Lists


PROJECT: No Water No Life is a long-term documentary project that combines the power of photography with science and stakeholder information in researching, documenting and comparing case-study watersheds in North America (the Columbia, Mississippi and Raritan River Basins) and northeastern Africa (the Blue Nile, Omo and Mara River Basins). Its mission is to provoke and support paradigm shifts in freshwater protection and consumption by individuals, communities and industries. No Water No Life’s team includes scientific and technical advisors, photographers, researchers and interns with backgrounds in conservation biology, natural resource management, forest ecology restoration ecology and conservation photography. Having been granted 501(c)(3) status from Wings WorldQuest, No Water No Life has carried expedition flags from The Explorers Club and Wings WorldQuest and has been fiscally supported by The Scott Pearlman Field Award and generous private and in-kind donors.

JUSTIFICATION: 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. According to the UN Human Rights Commission, “The shortage of fresh, clean water is the greatest danger to which mankind has ever been exposed.” 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 documents and compares freshwater resource values, threats and sustainable management policies within its case study watersheds. This data, when combined and compared, 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.

MISSION: No Water No Life uses the watershed as a unit of analysis to:

  • Document the availability, usage and quality of critical freshwater resources,
  • Educate stakeholders through publications, lectures, exhibits and educational tools, and
  • Foster partnerships within and across geopolitical boundaries.

PROCEDURE: No Water No Life expeditions document case study watersheds, producing:

  • Research and photographic documentation of a watershed’s value, condition and management strategies, following scientists and stakeholders’ findings and data;
  • Watershed comparisons to share findings and approaches to effective management approaches;
  • Connections supporting educational outreach and solution-based partnerships; and
  • Dissemination of images and information on today’s freshwater crisis to educate the public and generate a political will to protect our vital freshwater resources.

EXPEDITIONS TO DATE: In 2007, No Water No Life’s expeditions covered the Columbia, Raritan and Omo River Basins. In 2008 thus far, project expeditions have covered the Omo, Mississippi and Raritan River Basins. In August an expedition will return to British Columbia, Canada, to further document the upper reaches of the Columbia River, open an exhibit in the Kootenays and present several lectures on No Water No Life’s research and observations.

Expedition Dates, Location, Participants, Funding   ·   About NWNL   ·   Watershed Description
Background & Study Goals   ·   Techniques   ·   Experience   ·   Results   ·   Participants   ·   Species Lists


The Mississippi River Basin is one of six North American and African watersheds being studied by No Water No Life. This watershed, which covers 41% of the lower 48 states of the US, presents issues that are compelling and of great comparative value to other watersheds within No Water No Life’s project. Prominent issues within the Mississippi River Basin include:

  • Levees (for flood control) and channelization (to maintain current course)
  • Decline of biodiversity (including iconic wolf, bear and bison species and their populations’ impacts on trophic cascades)
  • Climate change (faster snowmelt, better conditions for pests, increased storm/weather intensity and volatility)
  • Resource extraction (freshwater for irrigation, livestock and human consumption)
  • Habitat loss/fragmentation (issues of migratory corridors, endangered species protection, invasive species management)
  • Recreation (fishing, hunting, boating camping, hiking, skiing, tourism)
  • Pollution (industry, mining, agribusiness, livestock and human effluent)
  • Invasive species (lake trout in headwaters regions, mussels, flora)
  • Restoration efforts (from protection of the watershed’s headwaters to its Delta and wetlands)

Expedition Dates, Location, Participants, Funding   ·   About NWNL   ·   Watershed Description
Background & Study Goals   ·   Techniques   ·   Experience   ·   Results   ·   Participants   ·   Species Lists


The 18 million acres of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem includes parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, treasured national parks, over 10,000 hydrothermal features and the Continental Divide. Known for Yellowstone National Park, the birthplace of the global park movement in 1872, this region contains major tributaries in two of No Water No Life’s case study watersheds, the Mississippi and the Columbia. The Snake River, flowing south and west from the Continental Divide, is the Columbia’s largest tributary; and the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, flowing north and east, are major tributaries of the Mississippi. The size of West Virginia, this temperate-zone Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem at the southern terminus of the Yellowstone-Yukon migratory corridor is home to iconic species such as wolves, grizzly bears, bison, cutthroat trout, elk, moose, bighorn sheep and more. Industries relying on the region’s natural resources include tourism, recreation, mining, forestry, agriculture and ranching.

No Water No Life’s preliminary research on availability, quality and usage of the Mississippi River Basin’s freshwater resources emanating from the Greater Yellowstone ecosystems has focused on:

  • the value of these headwater ecosystems,
  • the threats of climate change, human footprints and biodiversity loss in this region,
  • the resource management within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

This expedition has initiated No Water No Life’s investigation and photo documentation of the values of the tributary headwaters of the Mississippi River Basin. Expedition results will serve as a base for comparisons of these headwater conditions and management plans with those in the project’s other case study watersheds. Yellowstone National Park has often been called “America’s Serengeti,” which highlight the parallels between North America’s Yellowstone River Basin and Africa’s Mara River Basin Issues in particular. Information and imagery from this expedition will underscore the importance and impacts of the headwaters’ ecology on downstream stakeholders. There are many issues within and downriver from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, currently affecting the Mississippi watershed stakeholders dependent on this region’s slow melt of the Rocky Mountain snow pack steadily spilling down from high granite peaks through the forested eastern slopes of the Continental Divide.

MISSOURI RIVER HEADWATERS: Formed at the confluence of the Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin Rivers in Three Forks MT, the Missouri River is the longest river in the US. Flowing northeast from this confluence, the Missouri’s original course up to Hudson Bay was changed two million years ago when advancing glaciers forced it to turn southwards to become the Mississippi’s major tributary. Today the Missouri-Mississippi River Basin represents an important sector of U.S. commerce, irrigation, ranching, forestry, recreation and wildlife. Due to local conservation efforts to slow ecologically destructive development along these rivers, Gallatin County’s recent planning and zoning regulations are now prohibiting any new subdivisions within 300 feet of the rivers’ banks.

YELLOWSTONE RIVER HEADWATERS: Paralleling the Absaroka Mountains, the Yellowstone River is a major tributary of the Missouri River and the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states. Beginning in Wyoming’s southeast corner of Yellowstone National Park amongst geothermic geysers and hot springs, the Yellowstone River flows out of Yellowstone Lake northwards through arid agricultural plains, joining the upper Missouri near the North Dakota-Montana border.

Largely due to burgeoning floodplain development, the Yellowstone was named the 2nd most endangered river in the US by American Rivers in 2006. This awareness led Congress to authorize $30 million in December 2007 for ecological restoration of the Yellowstone River. Regional tourism, driven by impressive scenery and trout fishing is a positive contributor to the local economy. However, downstream development has caused loss of cottonwood forests and riparian vegetation that are natural buffers to floods and offer essential fauna habitat. Levees, dikes and riprap stabilization infrastructure, meant to reduce flooding and erosion, have imperiled the essential role of wetland and riparian ecosystems.

BEARTOOTH PLATEAU: The Beartooth Highway crosses parts of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Custer National Forest, and Shoshone National Forest. In August 1882 General Phillip Sheridan, with 120 men, used this pass en route on an inspection tour of Yellowstone, which has recently become a national park, Today’s route, opened in 1936, essentially follows Sheridan’s path. This plateau is one of the most continuous alpine habitats above the tree line in the US lower 48 states. Deep ravines, carved by water cascading down rocky cirques, split the plateau’s otherwise smooth surface of deep snow pack at this time of the year. The Scenic Highway, open only seasonally, offers a dramatic and easily accessible view of the vastness and depth of the snow pack that is a critical source and reserve of freshwater in the Mississippi River Basin.

SPECIFIC GOALS: This No Water No Life Mississippi River Basin expedition, researching and documenting the values of the Mississippie watershed’s vital headwaters within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, focused on

  • Hydrologic Systems (headwaters/source, rivers, lakes, wetlands…)
  • Land Cover / Land Use (agriculture and ranching, forest, development, protected ecosystems…)
  • Geographic Features (rivers, mountains, lakes, gorges, valleys, plateaus…)
  • Biodiversity (indicator, keystone, culturally significant, threatened, endangered, endemic, native /nonnative, and invasive species; the specific trophic cascade involving wolves, elk, beaver and deciduous woody vegetation that impacts hydrology…)
  • Habitat (riverine habitats and aerial, terrestrial and aquatic corridors…)
  • Climate (historic, current and predicted changes in precipitation, temperature, and seasonal/annual patterns, storm intensity and volatility, its effects on snow pack depth and melt rate, trout habitat and the health of essential pine forests …)
  • Human Impact, historically and currently (population, economy, socio-cultural patterns, infrastructure, governance, political environment, stakeholder actions, geo-political issues, tourism, future development…)
  • Watershed Management Policies (current and proposed actions and effects locally as well as downstream)

Expedition Dates, Location, Participants, Funding   ·   About NWNL   ·   Watershed Description
Background & Study Goals   ·   Techniques   ·   Experience   ·   Results   ·   Participants   ·   Species Lists


METHODOLOGY: The No Water No Life methodology used in all its case study watersheds defined the expedition approach. Study of published documents and stakeholder information provided initial focus points for the Greater Yellowstone Area. Regional contacts and resources included conservation organizations, scientists, policy analysts, governmental and national park agencies, and commercial, public and private stakeholders. This initial contact list will be the foundation of a more extensive list of contacts to be used for future expeditions to this region’s hotspots and management sites, and for booking meetings, interviews and tours.

PLANNING: The itinerary was dictated by research and project goals. Dates were determined by opening dates for road closures following the heaviest snowfall in a decade. The option of also covering the Columbia River Basin/Snake River headwaters was considered and then dropped in order to cover the Mississippi River tributary headwaters as thoroughly as possible within the time constraints of the expedition.

OBSTACLES: Unlike African watersheds No Water No Life is studying, there are no language barriers. One can drive where and when one wants (road conditions permitting) and hike the many trails available (unless closures are posted due to rangers’ determination that human presence would to be detrimental to, or threatened by, wildlife or habitat). Lodging was easy to find at this time of year, even with last minute itinerary changes, both outside and within Yellowstone National Park, although some of the park lodges had not yet opened for the season.

DAILY SCHEDULE/PLAN: We traveled by car. A day’s routine began by arriving at the chosen morning’s site by sunrise (approx. 5:30 am) and continued past dusk (approx 9:30 pm). It included photographing; writing field notes; and downloading, backing up and captioning images. The Project Coordinator added knowledge and advise based on her expertise of a restoration ecologist and provided videography. The team shared responsibilities of driving, arranging itineraries, organizing nightly duties, scoping out photo ops and recording field notes.


  • Be prepared to change itinerary when other wildlife observers offer sightings of wildlife activity locales.
  • Sunrise and sunset are the best times to observe behavior. Patience is rewarded when one remains at a locale with a kill or a den, for wildlife will return to these sites: eg: an elk kill brought wolf, coyote, fox, golden eagle and raven over 2 days.
  • A scope is a necessity for bear and wolf viewing.
  • Late May is a difficult time to arrange interviews with local scientists and NGO officials. Many are away on teaching gigs (avoiding “mud season,” perhaps) and others are busy preparing for the upcoming tourist season.)
  • There’s no cell reception in Yellowstone NP. Internet’s available in Gardiner & Cooke City.

Expedition Dates, Location, Participants, Funding   ·   About NWNL   ·   Watershed Description
Background & Study Goals   ·   Techniques   ·   Experience   ·   Results   ·   Participants   ·   Species Lists


(See Expedition Itinerary)

OVERVIEW: The team conducted brief surveys of the Gallatin, Madison and Jefferson watersheds and the deep Rocky Mountain snow pack on alpine plains along the Beartooth Highway. More in-depth coverage was undertaken of the upper Yellowstone River Basin. It was evident that within protected state and federal lands local scientists, regional managers and many conservation organizations are actively monitoring current threats and providing solutions to many issues, such as the decline of cutthroat trout due to invasive lake trout and the loss of riverine habitat and water retention due to elk browse. However, while there are many stakeholder organizations in unprotected sections of this ecosystem who are monitoring industry and private land usage, it seems they face greater and more complex challenges than their counterparts in Yellowstone NP in the quest to insure the quality of freshwater resources in the Mississippi River Basin.

MISSOURI RIVER BASIN and CONFLUENCE: Land use within the three river valleys that form the Missouri River was observed to be heavily dedicated to agriculture and ranching, both dependent on sophisticated irrigation systems. In Trident, on the Missouri River immediately below the confluence of the Jefferson, Gallatin and Madison Rivers, the team photographed loaded freight trains coming and going the Holcim Cement Kiln. Montanans have campaigned against Holcim’s tire-burning request, use of slag waste from the Helena MT Superfund site and toxic mercury emissions. Thus far the state has delayed granting a permit for tire burning; and in March 2008 the EPA set plans for regulating mercury limits on cement kilns by September 2009.

BEARTOOTH SCENIC HIGHWAY: This route offers a dramatic evidence of the depth of Rocky Mountain snow pack that annually renews the freshwater resources of the Mississippi watershed. Also evident was the value of this alpine ecosystem for recreation and enjoyment. We observed skiers, snow boarders, kite skiers, jet-skiers and others picnicking with children and dogs, as they celebrated the first day of the highway’s opening for the summer. From here it is easy to understand how the effect of climate change on this snow pack can exacerbate faster snowmelts and more rapid evaporation. It is obvious that the loss of water-retentive forests immediately below the alpine plateau due to the ravages of mountain pine beetles and excessive elk browse can dramatically impact stream outflow rates, threatening increased destructive spring flooding and drier summers.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK: The expedition team photographed the dramatic scenery responsible for Congressional designation Yellowstone as its first national park in March 1, 1872; the behavior and habitats of iconic species; the management of protected areas; the stages of re-growth of burned forests; the snow and ice cover still remaining at the beginning of summer; rivers in spring flood and the impact of tourism.

The expedition was primarily based within the Lamar Valley in order to take advantage of easiest viewing of the park’s biodiversity. Following the trophic cascade impact of the reintroduction of wolf populations in the mid 1990’s, photographic documentation included wolf activity, elk browse on riverine willows and aspen, and beaver activity. Documentation on the slopes of Mount Washburn also recorded evidence of the mountain pine beetle attacks on the whitebark pine. The hydrologic significance of this pine, claimed to be the most critical food source for the Yellowstone grizzly bear, is that its spreading crowns, especially on windy ridges, facilitate accumulation and protection of deeper snowpack, thus increased water retention due to delayed melting.

The time spent in Yellowstone National Park allowed observation of changes in tourism. For the last four decades the park has recorded over two million tourists yearly. The introduction of wolf packs has brought tourists with powerful scopes to observe this iconic species. This has sparked tourists’ interest in other species and created a much broader appreciation of the ecology of the region. However, additional pressure of viewers on park species will come from SAT phones communicating wildlife activities to all in the park and a greater number of parked RV’s and cars forming daunting barriers to species’ freedom of movement. It is important to address how this deeper interest can be harnassed to help promote the biodiversity of the park and how higher numbers of tourists can be best managed to protect the park.

The importance of biodiversity to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is aptly described by a passage from a book on prairie ecology:

A biological community of interacting species was not something that could be observed at a single moment in time. It incorporated, rather, a sequence of stages that extended back into the past and into the future. Single measurements of a system, such as inventories, were important, for they provided information about how things were at one point in time. But scientists also need to understand how things were apt to function under various conditions. Only by trying to understand a landscape’s capacity could scientists hope to make appropriate management decisions that would positively affect the entire biological community in the long run.

It all came back to the “whole picture” approach. All parts needed to be retained in working order for the machine to keep running. The goal of ecology was to somehow maintain the cogs and wheels, screws and levers, so the capacity of the system could overcome any short-term imbalance or poor performance.

— March Houle, The Prairie Keepers: Secrets of the Zumwalt,
(Corvallis OR: Oregon State University Press, 2007, pp. 79–80)

Expedition Dates, Location, Participants, Funding   ·   About NWNL   ·   Watershed Description
Background & Study Goals   ·   Techniques   ·   Experience   ·   Results   ·   Participants   ·   Species Lists


IMAGERY AND DATA: The 2008 Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Expedition documented many aspects reflecting the values and issues attached to the freshwater natural resources of the headwaters of the upper tributaries of the Mississippi River Basin. Material collected on the No Water No Life’s Expedition includes video capture and 40 gigs of still photos. Team members filed field notes and kept journals. No Water No Life has posted this documentation on its website and is incorporating it immediately in lectures and exhibits intended to raise public awareness this summer on the need to understand and manage the ecologies of the headwaters of the Mississippi River Basin and all watersheds.

CONTACTS: An initial list of scientists, stewardship leaders and community conservation groups has been establish to inform and help fulfill the mission of No Water No Life. The project looks forward to establishing contacts with many more local scientists and stakeholder groups prior to the next expedition to this region.

COMPARISONS WITH OTHER WATERSHEDS: Results and conclusions from this expedition will be studied in comparison to the other five watersheds in No Water No Life’s study. Issues that exist within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem that correlate with issues in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystems of the Mara River Basin include:

  • deforestation evident in both watersheds,
  • decreasing water retention in headwaters here and in Kenya’s Mau Forest,
  • the importance of biodiversity symbolized by wolves and bears here and by the famous zebra-wildebeest migration in the Mara-Serengeti plains,
  • management issues of national and state parks here and tribally owned reserves and community-based conservancies in the Mara watershed,
  • water and land rights conflicts between animals and humans
  • the power of iconic species such as wolves and bears as well as elephants and lion to bring broader public awareness to the watersheds’ ecologies.
  • the impact of increasing traffic in Yellowstone and the disruption of tourism on wildlife behavior in African national parks and reserves.

FUTURE PLANS: No Water No Life will return to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to collect interviews with local authorities; obtain aerial photography of the watershed’s geological features, infrastructure and land cover; follow-up with documentation on the status of wolf populations following their removal from the Endangered Species list; and document critical sites of degradation and sustainable management solutions.

No Water No Life imagery from this May–June 2008 expedition will be used in exhibits, lectures, print publications and on the organization’s website in an effort to raise awareness of the Mississippi River Basin’s issues and solutions. Data, field notes and photos, processes and other outcomes from this and future expeditions to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will become part of No Water No Life’s larger project outputs including print publications, development of student curriculum and coalition building.

Expedition Dates, Location, Participants, Funding   ·   About NWNL   ·   Watershed Description
Background & Study Goals   ·   Techniques   ·   Experience   ·   Results   ·   Participants   ·   Species Lists


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

On the NWNL ’07 Columbia River Basin; ’05, ’07 and ’08 Omo River Basin; ’07 Blue Nile River Basin; ’08 Mississippi Delta and ’08 Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Expeditions

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 alisonjonesphoto.com.

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.

Expedition Dates, Location, Participants, Funding   ·   About NWNL   ·   Watershed Description
Background & Study Goals   ·   Techniques   ·   Experience   ·   Results   ·   Participants   ·   Species Lists


Mammal Species List

Yellowstone National Park (5-28-08 to 6-2-08)

(Official YNP list contains approximately 50 species)

Northern Rockies gray wolf (Canis lupus) with pups – (endangered: 1974 – March 28, 2008)

Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) with cub – threatened

Black Bear (Ursus americanus) with pup

Bison (Bison bison), with calves

Elk (Cervus elephus), with calves

Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Moose (Alces alces), with calf

Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis)

Mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus)

Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)

American badger (Taxidea taxus)

Western coyote (Canis latrans)

Red fox (vulpes vulpes)

Beaver (Castor canadensis)

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

Uinta ground squirrel – (Spermophilus armatus)

Chipmunk – Eutamias spp

Beartooth Parkway (5-31-08)

Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris)

Elk (Cervus elephus)

Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

Moose (Alces alces)

Expedition Dates, Location, Participants, Funding   ·   About NWNL
Watershed Description   ·   Background & Study Goals   ·   Techniques   ·   Experience   ·   Results

Bird Species List

Birds In Montana (5-27-08)


Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Black-billed magpie (Pica pica)

American crow (Corvis brachyrhynchos)

Tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

Double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

Gull (Larus sp.)


American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), pre-nesting fibrous protuberance on upper mandible

Tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

Cliff swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Killdeer (Chardrius vociferous)

Duck sp.


American goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria)

Tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

Bullock’s oriole (Icterus bullockii)


Tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

Cliff swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)

Violet-green swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)


Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Long-billed curlew (Numenius americanus) – formerly listed as Category 2

American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), pre-nesting fibrous

protuberance on upper mandible

Northern flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus)

Raven (Corvis corax)

Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Western meadowlark (Sturnella magna)

Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Eastern kingbird (Tyrannus caudifasciatus)

Turkey vulture (Cathartes aura)

Brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater)

American robin (Turdus migratorius)

Birds In Wyoming – Yellowstone National Park (May 28 – June 2, 2008)

(Official YNP list contains 311 species with 148 nesting species)


Sandhill crane (Grus canadensis), nesting

Spotted sandpiper (Actitis macularia)

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Canada goose (Branta canadensis)

Great blue heron (Ardea herodias)

Lesser scaup (Aythya affinis)

Belted kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Trumpeter swan (Cygnus cygnus)

Green-winged teal (Anas crecca)

Blue-winged teal (Anas discors)

Cinnamon teal (Anas cyanoptera)

Barrow’s goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)

California gull (Larus californicus)

American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), pre-nesting fibrous

protuberance on upper mandible


Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) - threatened

Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), nesting

Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

American kestrel (Falco sparverius)

Raven (Corvis corax)

Clark’s nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana)

Black-billed magpie (Pica pica)

European starling (Sternus vulgaris)

Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Yellow-headed blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

Mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides)

Yellow-rumped warbler (Dendroica coronata)

American robin (Turdus migratorius)

Blue grouse (Dendragapus obscurus), displaying

Birds In Wyoming, Beartooth Highway (May 31, 2008)

Raven (Corvis corax)

White-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

Clark’s nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana)

Dark-eyed junco ("pink-sided") (Junco hyemalis mearnsi)

Warbler sp.

American robin (Turdus migratorius)