Water: law/policy/politics/ethics/art/science

Columbia Canoe Journey: Bringing Attention to Fish Barriers on the Columbia River


A remarkable Columbia River journey is underway.  Voyages of Rediscovery, a river-based environmental education program, is paddling two dugout canoes up the Columbia River — making the 1,240-mile journey from the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon to Canal Flats, British Columbia.   Their mission is to bring public attention to the lack of fish passage at dams on the Columbia River.

The hand-carved canoes were built with the help of young students from the Spokane Indian Reservation and the Colville Reservation.

Today, August 17, the Columbia Canoe Journey is in the Tri-Cities, having traveled 330 river miles from the mouth of the River since August 2.  Here’s a note from Adam Wicks-Arschak, one of the organizers:

We are currently at Tri-Cities.  The trip has thus far been blessed by great tail winds and we have sailed most of the way up river from the ocean where we started on Aug. 2nd.

We paddle in honor of the salmon who can no longer reach their ancestral spawning grounds of the upper Columbia River.  Along the way we have been talking to hundreds of people on the river and sparking conversations about salmon and fish passage issues.  Once schools start up we will be doing presentations and paddling events at the schools.

In particular the schools who carved the canoes will be joining us on portions of the trip.  The Spokane Tribe and Colville Tribe will join us from Chief Joseph (dam) up to their respective communities of Wellpinit and Inchelium.  This will be very powerful, to paddle these salmon-inspired canoes with the youth who carved them, up into the historic spawning grounds of the upper Columbia River.

You can check out a great video about the creation of the two canoes that are making the journey at Voyages for Rediscovery’s website.

Hood River News ran an article about the canoe journey on August 9, as the crew came through the Gorge.

We’ll keep you updated on the journey as it comes up the River.


Author: naiads

Opinionated (retired) public interest water lawyer

2 thoughts on “Columbia Canoe Journey: Bringing Attention to Fish Barriers on the Columbia River

  1. Adam Wicks-Arshack and his crew are so committed to this project. They are doing it at great personal sacrifice on a shoe string because they are true believers. Adam is planning on applying to graduate school in fishery science after this trip is over. If you have any ideas or contacts for him, you can reach him at

    I couldn’t be prouder of him. ( poken like the father I am)

  2. My wife Donna-Gay and I joined up with these amazing guides just up river from Vantage Wa. on 8/24 and paddled up past the Rock Island Dam and then past the Rocky Reach Dam up river from Wenatchee before I had to go back home (to work). Donna-Gay is still with them, lucky girl. We re-supplied them then, but it takes a huge amount of calories every day to work as hard as they must to pull those canoes up the river, stroke by stroke. The guys can use any help they can get, and as Adam’s Dad said above; They are doing it at great personal sacrifice on a shoe string because they are true believers. So if you have any ideas to help, or would like to donate some money for supplies, or even possibly join them to help paddle, please give me a call, or Xander, or Adam. My cell is: 509-675-3138. You can try to reach Xander at: 310-936-8812, or Adam at: 917-684-4247.
    When the dams were built in the ’40’s they did not build fish ladders, and hence there are no salmon above Chief Joseph Dam. This has been the status quo for more than 60 years and it’s time to change!!! These dedicated, insightful young men would like to perhaps help change the status quo and deserve all the support they can get.

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