The Columbia River Gorge is without a doubt, one of the most spectacular and diverse areas of rivers, mountains, volcanoes, and lakes in the Northwest, and possibly even the U.S. The people here recognize the treasure we hold and help protect and develop this place to an even more beautiful and vibrant community. Besides the historically rooted logging and agricultural industries, you’ll find your typical Northwest coffee shops, a rapidly developing wine region, micro-breweries, restaurants using the area’s locally produced foods, art galleries, and of course a wide range of outdoor recreation related companies and outfits. And surprising to many: Bingen has the highest number of engineers per capita in the country due to our developing High-Tec industry, spearheaded by Boeings’ Insitu. The Gorge is beautiful and diverse in many aspects.
If I had to define the “sense of place” I feel here, it would be delicious, adventurous, majestic, green, and friendly. Wet Planet is proud to be a part of the Gorge Owned (GO!) community, a member-supported organization with a mission to strengthen connections between the people, natural environment and economy of the Columbia Gorge.
As part of GO!’s annual Sense of Place lecture series, Wet Planet is contributing to the kickoff of the SoP season by sponsoring a community raft trip on the newly opened Lower section of White Salmon River on Sunday, September 29. The lecture series began in 2010 as a means to build a dialogue among community members about some of the issues and historical events that both connect us and divide us. Since the GO! organization and its events are volunteer-led and reliant on sponsorships, Wet Planet is donating 50% of the proceeds of this trip to Gorge Owned.
The rafting trip will start in Husum, WA. Rafters will get the opportunity to experience floating a newly formed river where the reservoir used to be, explore newly accessible canyons and float through the former Condit Dam site, ending at the mouth by the Columbia River. Local residents will have a chance to see section of the river once underwater due to the Condit dam. A short lecture from watershed planner, Jeanette Burkhardt, before the trip will educate participants about the events leading up to the breaching of the Condit dam in October 2011, and the transformation that has been occurring here since.
When the dam was breached, it released over 100 years’ worth of trapped logs and silt. We’re approaching the 2-year mark from the removal, and the river is visibly healing itself; native grasses and trees and popping up on the sides of the river once covered by the lake, osprey and eagles are building nests in the trees, and most excitingly, Steelhead Salmon are returning to their birthplaces and swimming far upstream of the dam site to lay their eggs. This is the sign of a new phase for the White Salmon basin.
During the guided Sense of Place rafting trip, Burkardt, a watershed planner for the Yakama Nation Fisheries program, will explain some of the challenges facing the basin, including climate change and increased development. She has been involved in salmon recovery planning, land use planning, education and restoration projects in the White Salmon basin since 2005.
The Sense of Place rafting trip begins at Wet Planet at 12:00 PM (reservations required, and arrival at Wet Planet at 11:30AM is recommended) and the cost is $40. Food and beer are available for purchase from Wet Planet’s new cafe after the trip. Space is limited! Click here to book your spots.
Schedule of events:
11:30AM – arrive at Wet Planet
12:10PM – first lecture begins
12:45PM – rafting trip begins
4:30PM – return from float, concluding lecture
Food & beverages to follow (available for purchase)