Learning about the White Salmon River and its Place in the Community – the 2010 White Salmon Riverfest & Symposium. This weekend marked the fifth annual White Salmon Riverfest & Symposium. The event – each year hosted by Wet Planet Rafting & Kayking was a huge success once again – bringing 50 people to a river symposium on Friday and another 80 to a community rafting event on Saturday afternoon!
The community raft float was also made possible with the additional support of All Star Rafting, River Drifters, All Adventures Rafting and various community guides donating their time to reach out to the community. It was a huge message, and greatly appreciated by the community. We were able to reach out to many of our neighbors who in having lived here for 10 or 20 years, had never gone on the river. Until now. One thank you note received days after the event said that a whole new appreciation was gained for both the river and its community! Mission accomplished.
A special shoutout to the historical Trout Lake Country Inn for hosting the Symposium on such short notice, and to Everybody’s Brew Pub for “putting up” with the band (4 on the floor)on Saturday night, allowing our crowd to properly conclude the riverfest with music, food and beverages …. Good times for all.
Friday’s Symposium was a great way for raft guides, local paddlers and other members of the community to get together to learn more about the White Salmon River. We tested our local knowledge on questions ranging from how the White Salmon got its name (salmon turn white when they die and they have trouble swimming upstream on the White Salmon) to Washington’s official folk song (). That was followed by a presentation from Chip Carroll of the Headwater Institute who explained that if a 24-pack of drinks represented all the world’s water, then just three drops of that total represented all the active rivers – and we need to make sure to preserve and protect the ones we have.
Lorri from the Columbia River Keepers office taught us about water quality next and what concerned citizens can do (volunteer!) to help maintain and improve the quality of the water in our local rivers. The next presentation revolved around the status of Condit Dam and hopes (and plans) for it to be removed in October of 2011. Emily Platt from Gifford Pinchot Task Force and Ross Houbon from Pacific Corp shared information about the status, and thoughts about what’s next. We got a real treat after that – as we were visited by two birds of prey (with their handler from Rowena Rapter Rescue Program, of course)! Wet Planet owner Todd Collins then told us about the geological makeup of the Columbia Gorge area, taking everyone outside for an informative – and muddy – presentation. Thank you Nicki for some great assistance pre- and during presentation! (on the picture she’s seen creating the new cascade mountain range).
As great a start as that was – everyone was on the edge of their seats for the day’s final presentation – a retrospective on the White Salmon and whitewater in general from 1985-1995 from the man who saw it all (and wrote about most of it): Jeff Bennett! Jeff was gracious enough to stay around and sign copies of his book afterwards, and we had to start cleaning up just to get people to leave!
While Friday’s focus was on educating those who spent a lot of time on the river, Saturday was about encouraging local folks to get in a raft and get on the river! With prices slashed to $15/person and multiple rafting companies, including Wet Planet Whitewater, All Adventures Rafting, All Star Rafting, and River Drifters, donating rafts and guides – and many of the guides working on a volunteer basis themselves – 80 community members took advantage of the offer and finally sunny skies to take 13 rafts down the White Salmon in an adventure that surely nobody will soon forget.
Of course, none of the weekend’s events would have been possible without so many gracious donations from those involved in the local community, including: Solstice Restaurant, Strawberry Mountain, Dog River, Girls 4 Play, Good News Gardening, Ground Hood River, Ground White Salmon, Henny’s, Immersion Research, Kayak Shed, Kokatat, Los Reyes, Next Adventures, NRS, Pistil, Shortt Supply, Solstice Restaurant, the US Forest Service, Wet Planet Whitewater, Cor Cellars, Naked Winery, White Salmon Vineyard, Wind River Cellars and Full Sail Brewing.
While planning an event like this can be challenging even in the best of times, this weekend’s turnout and positive feedback already have us working on the White Salmon Riverfest & Symposium 2011! Big Big Big thanks go out to Wet Planet’s Hootie Boucher and Heather Herbeck. Driven by their passion for the White Salmon River, its whitewater community and for their committment to the Wet Planet philosophy, they work really hard each winter creating each year’s event. As we further establish and develop this annual event each year, we welcome and encourage anyone’s help, feedback and participation in creating the event. It is a community event – organized by and enjoyed by you all!!