With the deadline to renegotiate the Columbia River Treaty fast approaching, a group of environmental advocates from Washington are finishing up a 2,000 km paddle from the source of the mighty Columbia River in Astoria, Washington to the headwaters at Canal Flats north of Kimberley.
The canoe, carrying four people arrived at Canal Flats on Monday afternoon.
Adam Wicks-Arshack of the Sea to Source expedition spoke by cell phone to the Bulletin as they paddled the last stretch across Columbia Lake Monday morning.
The whole idea behind the expedition is to bring awareness to the salmon who used to populate the river right to its source. The group has spoken and paddled with students and environmentalists along the way.
“Last year we had a dugout canoe building contest to help educate students about the salmon in the river,” said Wicks-Arshack. “We made five canoes for the five types of salmon. With this trip we wanted to pay tribute to the salmon by starting the journey at the source where they do.”
However, because of power dams along the river, salmon no longer make the same journey. The Sea to Source expedition advocates having fish ladders built at dams such as the Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee so the fish can get further up the river. Ideally, every dam would be modified to allow salmon the get past.
“We were able to get past dams that the salmon can’t,” Wicks-Arshack said. “With the renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty, this is a perfect time to talk about it.”
Wicks-Arshack says the Canadian portion of the journey has been truly enjoyable.
“It’s such a pleasure on the Canadian parts of the river. It’s raw — huge mountains, glaciers and rapids. We paddled through the Columbia wetlands. They are just incredible, so biological diverse. We saw more beavers and elk and wolves than on the whole rest of the trip combined. Right now we are sailing up the Columbia Lake. The sun is out. It’s just beautiful.”
Wicks-Arshack says that while the trip ended Monday, efforts to bring awareness to the treaty, the river and the salmon will not end.