From the source to the sea

Christopher Swain swam the length of the Colombia River a few years ago – the river runs through the US state of Washington and the Canadian province of British Colombia, before it empties into the Pacific Ocean. You can watch him being interviewed here. More artfully, here’s a trailer of the film made about the river and his epic 1243 mile journey.

Good analysis – the issues presented are both about the river and identity. In an unpublished letter Swain wrote to a Seattle newspaper:

I swam the entire 1,243 mile length of the Columbia River in 2002-2003. I sweated and bled into the Great River of the West for 165 days. As I stroked through the fake lake above Celilo, I could still feel the Falls, hidden beneath a blanket of stagnant water.

Ever since that day, I have believed that we should permanently restore Celilo Falls.

Naysayers maintain that the river is too valuable as a highway for barge traffic, and as a source of cheap electrical power. I would argue that freight could travel just as easily by rail on the tracks that parallel the river. And that the Celilo area—just east of The Dalles, Oregon — demonstrates stunning potential for solar and wind power: arguably a more sensible investment than spending millions each year to keep the Dalles Dam operational.

Why not let the river be a river?

The film, Source to the Sea, is part of the Wild and Scenic Film Festival that’s showing on the West Coast of North America. Story via Treehugger.

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One Response to “From the source to the sea”

  1. Estelle Says:

    The Fraser River is another vitally important river that runs through BC and empties in the Pacific. About 800 million juvenile salmon migrate through the river every year. The river’s watershed is as large as California. It’s a beautiful river which definitely helps to shape a British Columbian’s identity and sense of place.

    There’s a great tradition of people swimming rivers to highlight conservation issues. One remarkable man, Fin Donnelly, has swum the Fraser many times.
    http://www.myhero.com/myhero/hero.asp?hero=f_donnelly

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