The River Speaks

In 1999, the Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers Society launched a multi-faceted awareness campaign called the The River Speaks. The campaign is designed to increase our connection with Rivers and share the ecology and rich cultural heritage of the Salmo River watershed within the mighty Columbia River Basin with a wider audience.

The mission of The River Speaks is to:

  • Promote a shared cultural perspective of the Columbia River Basin, based on internalization of stewardship Ethics, Values and Principles
  • Familiarize Basin residents with ecosystem-based management.
  • Encourage a shared knowledge of Nature: key components of which are respect and admiration for wildlife and their habitat.
  • Have fun.

Using a “Big Picture Approach”, SWSS partners with other organizations to promote stewardship, the nature, culture and beauty of the Columbia River Basin.

The River Speaks (TRS) has provided a platform for traditional demonstrations and riverside experiential education for individuals, schools and community groups within the Salmo River watershed as well the larger Columbia River Basin; providing interactive information and events intended to improve our relationship with our Rivers. TRS has also designed an Ecosystem-based Certificate Program, holds Stewardship Conferences, hosts and promotes various Festivals and Tours, as well as several artist workshops that result in Exhibitions. An example is the current Let Them Run: The Salmon Century program, an Artist Learning Adventure that has resulted in Reimagining Salmon in the Canadian Columbia River Basin. This Exhibition by 21 Columbia Basin Artists, painters, sculptors and others, is now migrating on a Basin-wide Tour.

Getting to know the river through workshops, experiential education, artist interpretations, stories, photographs, videos and interviews will help thousands of people, including decision-makers, become more informed about the state of the Salmo River Watershed and the Columbia River Basin and the importance they play in our everyday lives, our culture, our heritage, our health and our economy.

Our beautiful Salmo River Watershed —home to a diverse range of species, is a source of water that supports local economies, is a recreation destination, and an important part of our culture and heritage. Yet, threats to the river are growing and the need for community collaboration and collective action is stronger than ever. There is no single government agency that is accountable for protecting our river for future generations. Generally, there are no management plans and no conservations plan for rivers.

With the guidance of a collaborative, multi-stakeholder participant group the SWSS have developed a management and conservation plan for the Salmo River Watershed. The Watershed-based Fish Sustainability Plan followed a set of guidelines developed by the Provincial Ministry of Environment, the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, First Nations, as well as a significant consulting stakeholder group. This is one of the first Watershed plans that have been developed in British Columbia; it could provide a model for other watersheds and their communities who are interested in their aquatic ecosystem health.

The SWSS believes that stewardship is caring for something you don’t own; and in order to do that, one has to know it. With that in mind, we hope to share perspectives from experts of all kinds: First Nations, naturalists, historians, artists and scientists. We try to ensure that these people become familiar with the River, as well as inform and motivate groups of students along the way.

SWSS monitors water quality, does scientific research, and meets with a diverse group of people and leaders who depend on the Salmo River and Columbia River basin for different reasons. We speak with scientists, dam operators, First Nations, river guides, anglers, farmers, artists, and river enthusiasts, everyone really, to share thoughts of why our rivers are worth knowing and protecting. Join us in our voyage of discovery!