Glaciers – Butterflies – Change

Blog post January 22, 2019 by Alison M. Jones

Rivers are like sentences. They run on. There is an order, but it can be re-arranged. They are often punctuated by geologic elements and activity.

Rivers can be altered by fallen trees and jumping fish – or by human presence and activity. Alterations sometimes occur rapidly, sometimes slowly. How are those changes acknowledged? Maps help.

Humans have long changed rivers to benefit themselves. We have hand-dug small irrigation canals; bull-dozed earthen levees to stop floods; and built mammoth, concrete infrastructure to stop floods, store water and produce hydropower.

Think of changes wrought by global warming, its floods and its droughts. Think of the disappearance of sections or reaches of long rivers due to agricultural withdrawal for irrigation purposes.

 We have no substitute for today’s melting glaciers that for millennia have fed our rivers from Asia’s Himalaya Mountains to N. America’s Rocky Mountains. Glaciers supply water that we drink, that irrigates crops, that cools, and that transports us and our goods.


A 2007 photo marks the recession of Canada’s Athabasca Glacier

Photo by Alison M. Jones

When we were 7.3 billion people on this planet, we used the resources of 1 ½ planets. Now we are 7.7 billion people – and still increasing our numbers and resource consumption. How will that change how we live? Can we change that arc?
Change can come slowly or rapidly. Change can be for the good or for the bad. Change can be invisible and unfathomable. Click here to read more and see photos.


Rewilding Earth


A Rewilding Success Story on the Elwha River

Listen to a big Rewilding victory –the dam removal on the Elwha River in the Olympic Peninsula, (Washington state, USA). A conversation with Tim McNulty, Olympic Park Associates, and author of poetry and natural history books, who talks about the end of a decades-long battle to return the Elwha to natural flow resulting in the return of salmon, eagles and others reliant on a healthy river freed from two dams. Read more and listen to the podcast here.

The Zambezi River Legend

No Water No Life
The Zambezi River Legend
By Alison M. Jones
The charming African legend we quote below refers to Africa’s Zambezi River that flows 1677 miles (2700 km) from the point where northwestern Zambia borders Angola, Namibia and Botswana. It crashes down Victoria Falls, dividing Zimbabwe and Zambia, and runs through Mozambique – despite the Kariba and Cahora Bassa Dams. It is the largest African river to flow into the Indian Ocean.

While “Zambezi” is the local Tonga word for “Great River,” it is known by many as “The River of the Gods.” By others, it is called “The River of Life” in honor of “Nyami Nyami” the local river spirit who nurtures the river’s fish and irrigates their crops.

In a lovely book on this important African river,1we came across a legend that mystically merges the cycle of the sun setting and rising with the birth and passage of the Zambezi River. In our minds, the legend could apply to the course of any river..

Wild and Scenic Rivers: Three Columbia Tributaries

By Sarah Kearns

This article in our series on Wild and Scenic Rivers focuses on the Crooked, Metolius and McKenzie Rivers – three Oregon tributaries to the Lower Columbia River. All three were added simultaneously to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System on Oct. 28, 1988. No Water No Life (NWNL) documented these tributaries in Oct. 2017 during its 5th Columbia River Basin Expedition. More about this Pacific Northwest, transboundary watershed is on our Columbia River General Characteristics page. For more on the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, read Part 1 of this blog series.

Crooked River

The Crooked River reach from the National Grassland boundary to Dry Creek (17.8 miles) is designated as a “Recreational” National Wild and Scenic River. According to the National Wild and Scenic River website, this part of the Crooked River is a popular destination for outdoor activities, including whitewater boating, hiking, kayaking and fishing for steelhead, brown trout and native rainbow trout. Read more.