WATERSHED: "That area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community."
- John Wesley Powell
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“From the time I was old enough to stand in a creek I was fascinated by running water, quite frankly,” says Jim Siscoe, manager of the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company (MVIC) in Cortez, Colorado. MVIC owns about $1.5 billion dollars worth of water rights in the area that revolve around the McPhee Dam on the Dolores River, a tributary of the Colorado River.
While Siscoe is a scientist by training he is a rancher at heart; he and his wife, Loretta, have just begun an organic cattle operation that has 40 head of Black Angus cattle.
One of the hottest topics in this area revolves around the
Now that we’ve finally wrapped up production in the headwater’s region of the Colorado River, we’re sorting through the rich bounty of all the stories we’ve gathered and the voices we’ve heard.
One such voice that still rings loud in our ears is that of John Echohawk, veteran Native American rights lawyer and Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) based in Boulder, Colorado.
We first met Echohawk at the NARF offices in Boulder, Colorado on Wednesday July 9th.
We asked our beloved hosts and guides in Mexico, Osvel Hinojosa-Huerta, Pronatura Noroeste's Director of the Water and Wetlands Program and his partner Yamilett Carillo Guerrero, the coordinator of Pronatura’s Sustainable Watershed’s initiative in Northwestern Mexico to write us a blog post about our exploits south of the border. Enjoy! And thanks Osvel and Yami for such an insightful and enriching visit throughout the Colorado River delta!!
This was certainly a life changing experience for us, and we hope it is for the Colorado River too.
Yesterday we filmed Gary Griffin, a man who for decades fought to open the gates on the causeway in Moncton that severed this tidal river’s critical link to the sea. Three times a day for 20 years Griffin voluntarily manned a fish trap on the causeway in order to document the causeway’s effect on fish. Bottom line was, the causeway blocked fish such as salmon, gaspereau and shad from using the river. As a result, his data provided critical evidence for the argument to open the gates and restore the river’s natural flow.
Last April, the gates finally opened for real, marking a triumphant
Dr. Anna George, Director of the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute:
There is nothing more eloquent in Nature than a mountain stream. Its banks are luxuriantly peopled with rare and lovely flowers, and overarching trees, making one of Nature's coolest and most hospitable places. - John Muir
On September 12, 1867, John Muir crossed the Emory River on his thousand mile walk to the Gulf of Mexico. The Emory River, a tributary of the Clinch River in northeast Tennessee, is a small watershed of 872 square miles drained by 1283 miles of streams.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper Mark Mattson’s purpose in life is to protect Lake Ontario, the world's tenth largest lake. Mattson, an environmental lawyer, often describes himself as a little Lake Ontario walking around because he drinks its water, as do millions of Canadians.
During our time in Toronto we had been fortunate to bask in Mattson’s insights on several occasions, most recently the day we interviewed him as we sat on the concrete channelized banks of the Don River, where its abused waters meet Lake Ontario.
As General Manager of Toronto Water, Lou Di Gironimo overseas the vast array of infrastructure and staff that supplies drinking water to 3.2 million residents and deals with the wastewater of 2.6 million residents. Like a set of bellows, the city draws its water from Lake Ontario, and then expunges its treated wastewater back into the lake (the lacework of sewers that underlay the city add up to 6,200 miles in length). But when the rain pelts down extra hard, the city’s sewage and stormwater exceeds the carrying capacity of its treatment plants.
Bill Belleville, award-winning nature and adventure writer, came out to the lakeshore clean-up in his hometown of Sanford, Florida.
Lake Monroe is a dilation along the 310-mile long St. Johns River, the first great North American river to be explored by Europeans and one that still holds much mystery in what Bill describes as its “medieval gothic jungles”.
Bill explores, among other topics, our deep affinity for nature, which we often deny to our detriment in his articles and books.
Bill Hopkins has studied the effects of coal ash and associated contaminants on aquatic organisms for over 15 years and has published more than 50 scientific papers on the subject. This Tuesday we were very fortunate to visit one of his study sites in South Carolina.
There, the Department of Energy has facilitated critical long term studies on the ecological effects of coal ash settling basins.
Mobile Baykeeper Casi Callaway was the perfect guide for our exploration of this unique area that is so rich in aquatic diversity - whether it was flying above the Mobile-Tensaw Delta in a Cessna 182 called “Girl Scout” or meeting me down in Bayou La Batre, Alabama where we filmed her interview or graciously hosting myself and the expedition crew for dinner at her lovely home in Mobile.
Casi, like so many of the waterkeepers we have met on expedition, is a true inspiration for the strong, articulate and impassioned voice that she brings to her community’s unique and invaluable waterway.