Inspiration for Sandy's Work

We are excited to announce our newest team member Sandy Wright, Development Director. Shortly before joining Riverkeeper, Sandy visited the headwaters of the Columbia and beyond. Read about her journey hiking Athabasca Glacier this summer, and meet Sandy in person at our Hood River open house on October 16, 2018.

My New Inspiration for Fighting Climate Change

Icefields, BC photo by Sandy Wright
Sandy Wright, Development Director, and her dog, Lola hiking Athabasca Glacier.

Just before coming to work at Columbia Riverkeeper, I embarked on the trip of a lifetime—a road trip to the headwaters of the Columbia and beyond. The highlight of my trip was driving the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper. The highway winds along the Continental Divide where the craggy peaks of the Canadian Rockies and the powder blue rivers create a spectacular landscape. The vast Columbia Icefields drape across the rocky peaks and the toes of glaciers dip down toward the highway. The meltwater from the Icefields provides the tributary headwaters of the Columbia River as well as the Athabasca and the North Saskatchewan River. Water from the icefields flow to three oceans:north to the Arctic Ocean, east to Hudson Bay (and thence to the North Atlantic Ocean), and south and west to the Pacific Ocean.

Athabasca Glacier 1982
Athabasca Glacier 1982.

As I walked up to the toe of the Athabasca Glacier, I came across a marker that indicates where the toe of the glacier was in 1909. Further up the trail another marker noted its location in 1982. And still further up was the toe of the glacier today. The glacier currently recedes at a rate of about 16 feet per year and in the past 125 years has receded nearly a mile and lost over half of its volume.
Signs posted by the Canadian National Park warn that within the next three generations the Athabasca Glacier and the water storage it provides may almost disappear, citing human activities as the primary cause.

As I stood at the toe of the glacier I thought about the journey of a snowflake from the top of a rocky peak, melting and forming a drop that trickles down to join a mountain stream, then down to Columbia Lake and into the Columbia River, eventually reaching the Pacific Ocean. I wondered what would happen to the mighty Columbia River if the glaciers were to melt. I didn't need an answer. I just knew that I had to do my best to inspire people to save this magnificent landscape and the rivers it gives birth to.

Icefields, BC photo by Sandy Wright
Athabasca Glacier.

Within a day of my trip to the Athabasca Glacier, I was offered the position as Development Director. Pictures of the Columbia Icefields will continue to inspire me as I work with Riverkeeper and the many people who care about protecting this mighty and beautiful river.

Join us

Meet Sandy in person at our Hood River open house on October 16, 2018.