*Columbia River Virtual Field Trip


An Amazing Watershed Journey

Map of Columbia Basin Watershed

Overview The Columbia River Virtual Field Trip takes us on a journey-not only a journey along a mighty river but also a journey into the heart of a watershed. The river itself begins in a wetland area and ultimately drains waters from 259,000 square miles of land (an area the size of France!) including the Canadian province of British Columbia, and parts of seven states (Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada), on course to its final destination-the Pacific Ocean.

The waters of the Columbia River Basin have been the lifeblood of diverse ecosystems and the peoples whose lives and livelihoods have depended on the river for thousands of years. It is easy to understand that the waters of the Columbia River and its tributaries are common to all who live, work, and play in the Basin-human and non-human alike. But to find common ground between and among the people, plants, animals, fish, nations, states, organizations, agencies, tribes, and livelihood groups who are part of the Basin community is more challenging.

Background For all who call the Columbia River Basin home and who recognize the simple yet profound bonds we share, there is also much that divides us as well. Conflicting needs, wants, values, and attitudes regarding the resources and uses of the Basin impair our abilities to work together to make lifestyle and management decisions that can restore and sustain the Columbia Basin's ecological and cultural foundations. The vision of a coordinated and sustained effort to educate adults and children alike about issues of the wildlife, water, air, and land shared throughout our common home must also recognize and embrace our diverse cultural values, economic traditions, histories, and priorities. Issues such as salmon restoration, water quality, and energy supply heighten the sense of urgency with which we must deal with connections that transcend the political boundary lines along which we typically define our communities.

There is agreement that we need to educate ourselves, students, teachers and community members -in all of the social and scientific complexity-in order to preserve the health and integrity of our shared home-the Columbia River Basin. We must learn to think of ourselves as members of communities beyond human construct. We hope that The Columbia River Virtual Field Trip will offer you an exciting means to discover more about the Columbia River Basin and offer knowledge and resources to help create and maintain healthy and sustainable relationships between people, communities and their natural environments.

Field Trip Grade Level and Content This virtual field trip was designed for middle and high school students and their teachers, but contains information that can be useful for students and citizens of all ages. On this journey, the field trip stops tell amazing stories-stories that flow like water itself, weaving through the diverse landscapes and perspectives of a mighty river system.

So come along and explore the Columbia River's

  • beginnings
  • geology
  • first nations
  • history and changes
  • current issues and challenges
  • sustainability and future

Get ready for an exciting trip-you'll soon get to know one of the great rivers of the world!

Click Start Field Trip to begin your journey along the mighty Columbia!

TrailheadTeacher's ResourcesStart Field Trip



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