River Network Staff Reflections to Mark World Rivers Day 2019
On September 22, 2019, the world marks the 15th annual World Rivers Day. This year, the theme is “waterways in our communities.” The River Network staff is spread across the nation, much like the over 6,000 groups, indigenous communities, and government agencies working at local, state, and regional levels to protect and restore rivers and drinking water. To mark this occasion, we’ve taken time to reflect on the rivers and waters in each of our local communities that make a difference in our day to day lives, or have shaped us over the years.
Over the last 15 years, World Rivers Day has become the world’s largest celebration of rivers and all the life that they sustain. Celebrate with us through the month of September by sharing your celebratory reflections of the local waters that have helped shape you! Join us in the comments below, or submit your stories here.
Katherine Baer – Bolin Creek, Carrboro, NC
I find myself drawn to the waterways I’m closest to and where I spend the most time. Right now we’re lucky to live near Bolin Creek where we walk, run, and wade in the water. With its eroded banks, rocky outcrops, and adjacent path, this creek that flows to the Cape Fear River provides our family (including the dog!) with a nearby happiness lift whenever we go.
Amy Boal – Left Hand Creek, Boulder, CO
Moving to Colorado in July meant that for the first time in my life, I would not live a short drive from the Pacific Ocean – waters that have comforted me for decades. Any associated worries quickly dissipated after my first morning run in our new neighborhood. Around the midpoint of an out and back route along our dirt road, I heard the familiar sound of running water, coming up on Left Hand Creek. This St. Vrain tributary turned out to be the perfect spot to pause mid-run and enjoy the calm and comfort of the water. Reminiscent of the local creeks, sloughs, and lakes I played in as a child, I felt right at home.
Sheyda Esnaashari – Mississippi River, Twin Cities, MN
The waterway that I feel most connected to is the upper Mississippi River in Minnesota. The river is ever present in daily life throughout the state and especially the Twin Cities – it divides Minneapolis and St. Paul (and all the rivalry that comes with) and at times separates parts of the cities themselves, winding its way in all directions. The mighty Mississippi also connects the North to the South and eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico making its presence feel even grander.
Brenna Goggin – Red Clay Creek, Wilmington, DE
Red Clay Creek is located within the Red Clay Valley Scenic Byway and flows through both southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware. It once served as a water source for Delaware’s industrial history, but now flows predominately through forests, parks, and residential neighborhoods. Located across the street from our neighborhood, it serves as a great swimming hole for dogs, children, and wildlife alike.
April Ingle – Rich Fork, High Point, NC
I just bought a new (to me) home at the very top of the Rich Fork watershed which flows to Abbots Creek, then the Yadkin River, then the Pee Dee River, and into the Atlantic Ocean near Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. Literally thousands of people in two states live downstream from me along with lots of magnificent fish and wildlife. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that 75% of the stream miles in my small tributary are impaired. I’m looking forward to learning more, doing my part to look after my local stream, and being a good neighbor to those living downstream from me.
Gayle Killam – Willamette River, Portland, OR
Flowing water. It has a visceral impact on me through all my senses. When I see and hear a creek flowing over rocks, carrying leaves and concealed fish and small critters as it journeys along a path it has taken for centuries or longer; when I smell that unmistakable smell, when the water flows over my hand – it may be cold and remote or warm and urban – it calms me, it makes me smile, it gives me peace. And it reminds me of the importance of the work I and my colleagues do every day… the work that our colleagues from organizations across the country do as well. Near my home, Portland, Oregon, I am fortunate to be able to connect with the Willamette River on any given day. It is a special portrait of a river that starts in the foothills of the south Cascade Mountains, passes through agricultural areas and small towns, and bisects the most populated area of Oregon. It connects people and separates us as well. It was known as a filthy river, carrying waste in the 1960s, and now it supports swimming within the city of Portland. My connection is through paddling, studying, and helping others recognize their relationship to the river. After 23 years of living in Portland, and knowing perhaps “too much” about the impacts of human activity on the river, I finally jumped in the urban Willamette in 2016.
Zak Lance – Brainard Lake, Boulder County, CO
This summer, I’ve enjoyed paddle boarding, fly fishing, and relaxing under spectacular Rocky Mountain sunsets at Brainard Lake. I feel especially recharged when the campers and day-use crowds clear out, leaving the lake completely quiet and still.
Carly Schmidt – Martindale Pond, St. Catharines, Ontario
As a child and teenager I spent time almost every day rowing on Martindale Pond, a man-made lake created when the original Welland Canal was routed through 12 Mile Creek in St. Catharines, Ontario. This body of water is an incredibly important facet of the community of St. Catharines, attracting rowers and sailors from across the country. Martindale Pond and Lake Ontario were also formative locations in my childhood, serving as drivers for personal growth. I hope to empower those local organizations that protect water quality in the Great Lakes in my work at River Network.
Nicole Seltzer – Oak Creek, Oak Creek, CO
Oak Creek will never make it onto a “best of…” list, but this creek provides our town of 900 people in northwestern Colorado with delicious, year-round drinking water. From its headwaters in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, through hay meadows, and onto the confluence with the Yampa River, it makes life possible in our little corner of paradise. While most people may drive by it without so much as a glance, I’m grateful for it every time I turn on the faucet.
Nicole Silk – Colorado River, CO
The river I see most is Boulder Creek and its many tributaries, flowing from the mountains west of where I live and work, east toward the Platte River, eventually mixing with the waters of the Mississippi and out to the Gulf of Mexico. While this water supports downstream communities, water can get a bit intermingled, particularly here in Colorado, where roughly 80% of the water is on the western side of the state and 80% of the population is on the eastern side. So my local river, the one I am most in love with, that I worry most about, where I go to reconnect, to celebrate next chapters and transitions, and to marvel at its ability to persist, is the Colorado River and its tributaries. This is how I started my month with my daughter and dog George, floating a tiny section of this red, rugged, and wild river, still so full of mystery and resilience.
Diana Toledo – French Broad River, Asheville, NC
The French Broad River is considered among the five oldest rivers in the world, flowing north through western North Carolina, my hometown of Asheville, and across the Appalachian Mountains before joining the Holston River to form the Tennessee River east of Knoxville, TN. This gracious river is a constant in our family’s life. We have loved the many 3-4 day expeditions we’ve spent exploring its lazy upstream waters, thrilled at its whitewater sections, cursed it when its waters have flooded entire sections of our hometown, and defended it long after others have given up on it due to occasional high E.coli levels. I’ve loved other cleaner and wilder rivers, but I’m most devoted to my own home river.