Ellie Friedmann takes water quality measurements from the North Fork of the Smith Wild and Scenic River in Oregon, during an early summer trip. Photo credit: Ellie and Northwest Rafting Co.
Adventure Scientists’ volunteers get to explore the outdoors with a mission. For Ellie Friedmann, volunteering with our Wild and Scenic Rivers project gave her a new perspective on the rivers where she guides with the Northwest Rafting Co. in southern Oregon. 

Ellie and her colleagues completed a five day backpacking/pack-rafting trip in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, a landscape the Forest Service’s website describes as “a harsh, rugged area with a beautifully unique character that resonates with anyone who ventures into its interior… characterized by deep, rough canyons, sharp rock ridges, and clear rushing mountain streams and rivers.”

Along the way, Ellie collected data on water quality for the project. In a blog post about the trip she writes: “We tested multiple sites on both established (Chetco, North Fork Smith rivers) and proposed (Baldface, Chrome creeks) Wild and Scenic Rivers. While these areas are specifically valued for their water quality in the Wild and and Scenic Rivers Act, they are rarely tested. We were able to prove that they are still extremely healthy at these upper reaches.”

Check out Ellie’s full blog post to learn about the carnivorous plants they encountered, the trek they took to get to the headwaters and access the main stem of Chrome creek, and why the group feels strongly that the waterways and tributaries they saw deserve designation in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

“[W]e were able to stand on a ridge overlooking the headwaters of all three Kalmiopsis Wild and Scenic Rivers: the Chetco River, the Illinois River, and the North Fork of the Smith River. Because we work on two of these amazing rivers, it was especially significant for us to see the springs that feed them,” Ellie writes. “Seeing the river as a whole instead of just the commercial stretch added context. It also showed us how a pristine headwaters region translates to clean and clear water downstream.”

Ellie, thank you for collecting data to help preserve the health of these special rivers. And thank you for sharing your experience and being part of our Adventure Scientists community.