Invited Speakers 2020

We are proud to welcome five invited speakers for the 2020 Symposium. Check back soon for more information on the speakers and their talks.

  • Ken Balcomb - Senior Scientist, Center for Whale Research: Southern Resident Killer Whales - Top Predators in need of a Restored Ecosystem
  • Peter Downs - Senior Research Fellow, University of Portsmouth, England: Into the Multiverse: River Restoration versus the Anthropocene
  • Mary Power - Professor, University California Berkeley and Eel River Critical Zone Observatory: Floods, Drought, and Alternate States in Algal-based River Food Webs
  • Kathy Eichenberger - Executive Director, BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources: Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty – Opportunities and Challenges
  • Barry Chilibeck - Principal Engineer, Northwest Hydraulic Consultants Ltd., Vancouver, BC: Perspectives in the Mitigation of Rockslides affecting Fish Migration

Looking forward to seeing you at our 2020 Symposium.

SYMPOSIUM Tuesday February 4th - Thursday February 6th, 2020

SHORT COURSES Monday February 3th, 2020

FIELD TRIP Friday, February 7th, 2020

Interested in what we have done in the past? Check out the past symposia

Kenneth Balcomb - Senior Scientist, Center for Whale Research

Southern Resident Killer Whales - Top Predators in need of a Restored Ecosystem


Killer whales have been known since antiquity as voracious marine predators in all oceans, and they have played an iconic role in the mythology of indigenous coastal communities in the Pacific Northwest of North America. Only in the recent 50 years have scientists been able to really “know” killer whales as a result of individual recognition techniques (photo-identification), molecular genetic techniques, and innovative studies involving drones, fecal sampling, and acoustic research. The speaker will provide a brief history of the development of these techniques so that participants may appreciate and distinguish knowledge gained by scientific methods in contrast mythologies in past and present human societies.


Ken obtained his Bachelor's degree in Zoology in 1963 from UC Davis and soon after was employed by the US government as Field Biologist GS5-7, first in Eastern Pacific large whale research and later in Central Pacific marine bird research. During the Vietnam era, he was a commissioned US Navy pilot and oceanographic specialist. He then did his graduate studies at UC Santa Cruz with Dr. Ken Norris, the world-famous marine mammal biologist. While a graduate student, Ken conducted Humpback whale research in the North Atlantic with colleague Dr. Steve Katona and taught marine biology aboard r/v Regina Maris for Dr. George Nichols of ORES and Harvard University. Ken is a pioneer in photo-identification of cetaceans and is the founder of Orca Survey (1976), a study of Pacific Northwest Southern Resident killer whales (orcas – SRKW in government jargon). He founded the non-profit Center for Whale Research in 1985 and remains the Principal Investigator of Orca Survey. Ken is a Charter Member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, and is devoting his remaining life to advocacy to recover the SRKW population and the native Chinook salmon they depend upon.

Dr. Peter Downs - Senior Research Fellow, University of Portsmouth, England

Into the Multiverse: River Restoration versus the Anthropocene


The (inter)discipline of river restoration has now been practised for 30 years. Following several decades of growing environmental awareness and scientific recognition of human-induced ‘river stresses’, the 1980s saw the global uptake of environmental assessment legislation, recognition of the performance and cost benefits of integrating conservation into river management, and concerns for achieving sustainable actions. Since ca.1990, river restoration has become a global phenomenon and multi-billion-dollar business. While deliberations continue about the ultimate goal in restoring rivers, restoration in practise adds a conservation-focused third element to river management, joining far longer-held concerns for water resource provision and river hazard minimization to result in an interdisciplinary ‘river management 2.0’.


Peter Downs is a fluvial geomorphologist with interests in developing sustainable river management solutions, and science and policy in river basin management. His career has combined several academic positions in the UK with a decade in consulting in CA, managing interdisciplinary watershed-scale projects in a variety of river habitats, and with objectives ranging from river restoration, to flood risk management, to dam removal. Recent research interests have investigated watershed-scale sediment budgets, river evolution in the Anthropocene, and passive monitoring to determine the importance of sediment supply in bedload sediment transport. Peter is a Chartered Geographer (Geomorphology) of the RGS and currently serves on the South West Regional Flood and Coastal Committee in the UK, and the British Society for Geomorphology’s Committee for Professional Geomorphology. In 2004, he co-authored River Channel Management: towards sustainable catchment hydrosystems, dedicated to reviewing approaches and techniques in the management and restoration of river channels.

Mary E Power - Professor, University California Berkeley and Eel River Critical Zone Observatory

Floods, Drought, and Alternate States in Algal-based River Food Webs


In sunlit western rivers, winter and summer flows determine the production, types, and fate of algae in summertime food webs. Ecologically critical flows depend not only on precipitation regimes, but also on how precipitation is stored and released from a watershed’s “Critical Zone”: the weathered rock, soil, and vegetation that receives, transforms, and exchanges water between the atmosphere, subsurface storage, and runoff feeding surface waters. Different flow regimes lead to different alternative food web states, with different consequences for fish production and riverine linkages to upland and coastal ecosystems. The Eel River, a river along the California North Coast under Mediterranean seasonality, has shown us three alternative summer food web states, with food chains of different length that determine the production, food quality, and fate of attached algae and of the aquatic consumers that depend on them.


Dr. Power is an ecologist and a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. She has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the California Academy of Sciences. She received the Kempe Award for Distinguished Ecologists, the G. Evelyn Hutchison Medal from the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, and the Eminent Ecologist Award from the Society for Freshwater Science. Mary and her students and collaborators study river food webs and their responses to environmental and biotic change. She performs much of her research in the Eel River of California. Since 1988, she has been the director of the Angelo Coast Range Reserve, an 8000-acre natural in the upper South Fork Eel River watershed reserve protected for university teaching, research, and outreach. Since 2013, she has been a co-PI in the Eel River Critical Zone Observatory. Mary’s work is featured in the feature film Serengeti Rules, and in a shorter (60 minute) episode by the same title first aired October 9 2019 in the Nature series on PBS.

Kathy Eichenberger - Executive Director, Columbia River Treaty

Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty – Opportunities and Challenges


The Columbia River Treaty was ratified in 1964 and has been implemented collaboratively by the U.S. and Canada for over 50 years, much of the time under the radar. The Treaty has been very successful in meeting its two prime objectives: preventing damaging floods and enhancing power generation. However much has changed since the 60’s: different social values and interests, an evolving policy and legal landscape, advances in science, transformational technologies, a changing climate and many more voices clamoring to be heard. It was therefore very timely for both countries to review the benefits and impacts of the Treaty and assess its future: should it be terminated, continued or changed?

To answer this question, separate comprehensive stakeholder engagement processes were held in 2012-2013 on each side of the border, resulting in recommendations to the respective governments on the future of the Treaty. What were the key interests, what did the respective recommendations cover, and is there alignment between them to be found? How will ecosystems feature in a renewed Treaty and what role will First Nations and tribes play?

Formal binational negotiations began in May 2018. As these talks continue, both countries need to reflect on why the Columbia River Treaty is important today and in decades to come, and what are the challenges and opportunities facing Canada and the U.S. as we negotiate a modernized Treaty that is resilient and will serve future generations.


Kathy Eichenberger is the Executive Director, Columbia River Treaty, Electricity and Alternative Energy Division, BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. Since October 2011, she has been responsible for leading all aspects of the Columbia River Treaty review, including technical, legal, environmental and economic studies, as well as Indigenous and public engagement. Kathy also directs a provincial team that prepares for and supports negotiations with Canada and the United States, and is the BC lead on the Canadian negotiation delegation.

Barry Chilibeck - Principal Engineer, Northwest Hydraulic Consultants Ltd., Vancouver, BC: Big Bar Landslide

Perspectives in the Mitigation of Rockslides affecting Fish Migration


Landslides are a physical process that had an undeniable effect on the landscapes within the Pacific Northwest. Recently, they have been experienced on several rivers that have affected Pacific salmon in profound ways. This talk is going to look at several recent landslides on rivers with Pacific Salmon and other fisheries resources, the effects on the communities and people that depend on fish, the work done to mitigate the physical and biological damage, and lasting influences and future risks.

The Seymour River is a small coastal watershed in the heart of Vancouver’s North Shore mountains. The upper watershed forms part of Metro Vancouver’s water supply while the lower areas provide recreational and park values. A 50,000 m3 rockslide in the lower Seymour River canyon in December 2014 resulted in a complete blockage of the river and the migration of Steelhead, Coho, Pink and Chinook salmon upstream – and downstream. This river’s story chronicles the community-led efforts and success in ensuring salmon prevail and restoring access to the river for fish for future generations. Technically, this mitigation work examines the trade-off analysis completed to assess the potential slide mitigation, and the issues that led to a passive, river-based approach that utilized the stream power of the slide to mobilize, reform and distribute the slide debris downstream, effectively re-grading the rockfall cascade. The process was not without risk due to the time required to seasonally work on the slide during the low flow period and then monitor and assess the slide during the interim months. The approach relied on determining the size of slide debris that could be mobilized, as well as the configuration of the slide debris as it shifted and moved during high flow events. By continually oversteepening the instream face of the rockslide by selective rock breaking, the slide was removed.

Biological programs and monitoring played a key part in ensuring that the salmon and steelhead stocks native to the Seymour were not extirpated during the 5 years of seasonal work. Without the efforts of community partners – notably the Seymour Salmonid Society – both the slide mitigation and support work would not have happened. They led the operation of the floating fish fence and fish collection; conservation hatchery restocking of the river; and continued assessment of downstream and upstream migrants. Shortly after completion of the 2019 work program on the slide, late summer rains brought some high flows into the watershed and in late August 2019, the first adult coho was observed above the slide. Follow-up radio tagging confirmed passage through the slide in September 2019 and there are ongoing efforts to monitor the movement and recovery of salmon and steelhead.

The Fraser River is one of North America’s foremost freshwater habitat for wild salmon encompassing largely an undammed, unregulated ecosystem from the Canadian Rockies to Vancouver, BC. While most people know about Hell’s Gate and the fishways that continues to mitigate that rockslide, they are largely unaware that the Fraser River continues to flow through hundreds of kilometers of canyons and bedrock formations that have inherent rock fall and slide risks. Roughly 100 years after Hell’s Gate Slide, the Big Bar Slide is proving that history repeats itself. On or about November 1st 2018, a massive slide event occurred near Big Bar on the Fraser River, 40 km North of Lillooet, BC. Unbeknownst for months, the slide was discovered in early spring 2019 before freshet by local ranchers and river rafters.
The chain of events and actions triggered by the impacts of the slide on one of the largest natural salmon-producing rivers is a continuing story. While the biological and cultural implications of this event are much better understood than Hell’s gate, the technical challenges are perhaps even more daunting given the location and local topography of the Big Bar slide. This presentation highlights the capacity and effort that can be harnessed when organizational barriers are dissolved and people come together for a common cause, the limits that still persist and challenges of what can be achieved to mitigate a slide to restore fish passage on a massive river in a remote isolated canyon.


Barry started his career with Fisheries and Oceans Canada as a junior engineer fresh after quitting his first job with a regional government where a desk and necktie awaited him. The next 13 years saw him work in the Major Projects Section of SEP – the Salmonid Enhancement Program – building fishways, spawning channels, hatcheries and habitats across BC, then later in Habitat Management – working to protect, restore and conserve fish and fish habitat across the Pacific Region.

In 2001, he joined NHC and reunited with two of his UBC school buddies – Bruce Walsh and Brian Hughes – as a hydrotechnical engineer. They stuck him in the back with a plywood desk on cinder blocks next to the lab – and he loved it. In the past 18 years, Barry has practiced in fisheries and river engineering, specializing in ecohydraulics, fish passage and environmental assessments involving aquatic habitats and physical processes. His fishy career has led him to work across the Pacific Northwest in a range of environments from Yukon to Southern California with many people whom are here today. He enjoys travels to the wild places where the imprint of humankind is small – and a good craft beer.

Looking forward to seeing you at our 2020 Symposium.

Symposium Tuesday February 4th - Thursday February 6th

Short Courses Monday February 3th

Field Trip Friday February 7th

Interested in what we have done in the past? Check out the past symposia

The 2019 RRNW Symposium will feature invited speakers.  Our invited speakers and the topics to be addressed are as follows:

  • Ellen Wohl, University Distinguished Professor, Colorado State University, Department of Geosciences: Rivers of Carbon: River Management Strategies for Enhancing Carbon Sequestration
  • Peter J. Tschaplinski, Unit Head – Ecosystems Science, Ecosystems Branch, BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy: Carnation Creek watershed experiment – long-term effects of historic forestry practices on stream channels, aquatic habitats, and coho salmon smolt production
  • Gary Parker, Professor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign:  Bankfull Discharge and Bankfull Channel Characteristics of Alluvial Rivers: Can We Get Beyond the 1.5 Year Flood?
  • Eric Quaempts, Natural Resources Director, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation:First Foods Management with a River Vision
Ellen Wohl


Rivers of Carbon: River Management Strategies for Enhancing Carbon Sequestration
Ellen Wohl
University Distinguished Professor
Colorado State University, Department of Geosciences

Models of global carbon dynamics commonly treat rivers as neutral pipes — passive conduits for dissolved and particulate organic carbon moving from terrestrial environments to the ocean. However, ecologists and biogeochemists have convincingly demonstrated that rivers are active pipes that release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in a manner dependent on the specific characteristics of the river. Similarly, geomorphologists have demonstrated that river corridors can store substantial stocks of organic carbon in floodplain soils and downed wood over 102-103 years. This presentation reviews carbon budgets in rivers, the characteristics of rivers that facilitate organic carbon storage and values of carbon storage for different types of rivers and geographic regions, as well as the human alterations that reduce riverine carbon storage. The presentation also discusses how river management can explicitly focus on increasing carbon sequestration within river corridors.


Ellen Wohl received a BS in geology from Arizona State University and a PhD in geosciences from the University of Arizona before joining the faculty at Colorado State University in 1989. Her research focuses on physical process and form in river corridors, including interactions with biotic and human communities. She has focused particularly on rivers in bedrock canyons and in mountainous regions, and she has conducted field research on every continent but Antarctica. She has written nearly 200 scientific papers and book chapters, as well as 16 books, and is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America. Much of her current research examines how physical complexity associated with the presence of instream wood and beaver dams influences the form and function of river ecosystems.

Peter Tschaplinski


Carnation Creek watershed experiment – long-term effects of historic forestry practices on stream channels, aquatic habitats, and coho salmon smolt production
Peter J. Tschaplinski
Unit Head – Ecosystems Science
Ecosystems Branch, BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy


The Carnation Creek Watershed Project is a long-term study of the effects of forestry practices on a small coastal watershed (11 km2) located in southwestern Vancouver Island. Initiated in 1970, this pre-treatment vs. post-treatment case study consists of five years of pre-harvest, six years of during-harvest, and now, 36 years of post-harvest research. Forty-one percent of the watershed was clearcut from 1976-1981. One tributary sub-basin (1.1 km2) was left as an unharvested reference drainage. Riparian treatments varied from clearcuts to a variable-width buffer.
Fish population responses to logging have been complex, and specific to species and life stages. Stream warming due partly to riparian harvest increased the growth and survival of juvenile coho salmon and elevated smolt production by 65% for nearly three decades. These relatively short-term thermal benefits offset the effects of riparian clearcutting which included accelerated bank erosion, streambed scour, loss of stable in-stream wood, and sediment movement downstream. Landslides in 1984 greatly amplified these effects but stream channel physical changes associated with mass wasting―logjams and amplified streambed scour and fill processes―took more than 20 years to propagate downstream to reduce fish habitat complexity and increase streambed instability and sediment transport over the entire portion inhabited by anadromous salmon. These delayed impacts have surpassed the thermal-related benefits for coho salmon. Fry-to-smolt overwinter survival has declined from a mean of 50% between 1982 and 2004 to 15% since 2005. Coho salmon smolt production has consequently been reduced to below pre-logging levels.
More than 35 years after the main phase of logging was concluded, the streambed in the anadromous portion of Carnation Creek remains heavily aggraded and 2-3 times wider than in pre-logging years. Pools are less abundant and shallower. Aggraded channel beds have reduced the amount of wetted habitat during summer, lowering the water volumes available for fish, and potentially reducing benthic macroinvertebrate food production and drift from riffles. Low-velocity shelter habitats in the form of undercut banks with stable in-stream wood which support coho salmon overwinter survival have become rare. Conditions at Carnation Creek will be common in many coastal BC watersheds harvested decades ago. Residual forestry-related alterations will be widespread. Results show that these alterations may take decades to fully develop and persist for decades longer without watershed and stream channel restoration.


Peter Tschaplinski is a Research Scientist with the BC Ministry of Environment, specializing in the fields of Fish Biology, Aquatic Ecology, and Fish-Forestry Interactions. Peter received his B.Sc. in Biology and M.Sc. in Vertebrate Ecology from Carleton University in Ottawa. He received his PhD in Marine Biology from the University of Victoria where he studied the ecology of the estuarine life history variant of juvenile coho salmon. He leads the multi-disciplinary Ecosystems Science Unit in the Conservation Science Section of the Ecosystems Branch. Peter has conducted research on the ecology of Pacific salmon and on the effects of forest management on aquatic ecosystems and fish for more than 35 years. He has participated in several multi-agency and multi-disciplinary watershed-level research programs in both the coastal and interior regions of British Columbia. His current research interests include projecting the effects of climate change on landscape disturbance regimes, aquatic communities, and fish.

Gary Parker


Bankfull Discharge and Bankfull Channel Characteristics of Alluvial Rivers: Can We Get Beyond the 1.5 Year Flood?
Gary Parker
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

It has long been known that alluvial rivers are the authors of their own geometry. In principle, water in the form of rainfall, a supply of sediment and vegetation should be sufficient ingredients for a channel to form on an initially featureless floodplain, and to acquire the standard features of hydraulic geometry. Available today are a wide range of empirical and theoretical techniques to estimate bankfull width, bankfull depth and slope as functions of bankfull discharge and parameters related to sediment. Yet bankfull discharge itself should not be a dependent variable. Rivers ought to choose their own bankfull discharge in the process of making their channels.
Bankfull discharge has been empirically related to a flood recurrence interval such as the 1.5 year flood. While such specifications are useful, they shed no light on the processes giving rise to bankfull characteristics. Here we investigate the morphodynamics of the problem in terms of floodplain building and floodplain lowering processes, as well as channel aggradation and degradation.
The morphology we consider is a single-channel meandering river. The river is subjected to a flow duration curve, characterizing the probability of exceedance of any given discharge. Relatively low flood flows encourage the removal of sediment from the floodplain as the channel migrates, rendering the channel shallower. Relatively high flood flows, on the other hand, deepen the channel through overbank deposition. Integrating over the flow duration curve allows determination of bankfull discharge itself, along with bankfull channel characteristics. Applications are presented for the Trinity River, Texas and the Minnesota River, Minnesota.


Gary Parker is a professor in the Environmental Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He holds a 75 percent appointment in the Depart­ment of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a 25 per­cent appointment in the Department of Geology, where he is the W.H. Johnson Professor of Geology.

Professor Parker received a B.S. from the Department of Mechanics and Materials Science of Johns Hopkins University (1971) and a Ph.D. from the Department of Civil Engineering of the Uni­versity of Minnesota (1974).  Before coming to the University of Illinois, he was an Institute of Technology Distinguished Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Minne­sota.  Prof. Parker was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysi­cal Union in 2003 and received the G.K. Warren Award in Fluviatile Geomorphology in 2002.  He has received the Schoemaker Award twice and the Ippen Award from the International Association of Hydraulic Research, and the Einstein Award, Hilgard Prize and Stevens Award from the American Society of Civil Engi­neers.  In 1991 he also received the University of Minnesota In­stitute of Technology Outstand­ing Teacher Award.

Professor Parker teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in flu­id mechanics, river engineering, and sediment transport.  One of Dr. Parker’s research goals is to use the fundamental techniques of fluid mechanics and applied mathematics to treat interesting geomorphological problems.  Related special research includes mechanics of river meandering; sorting of mixed grain sediment by fluvial processes; bank erosion and protection using permeable dikes and vegetation; and reservoir sedimentation.  Development of a mechanistic understanding of the processes involved with sediment transport in rivers, and the morphologies they create, is of prime importance.  River meander migration research has led to the development of computer models that predict channel shift and can therefore be used in the design of floodplain structures such as bridges, intakes, etc.

Eric Quaempts


First Foods Management with a River Vision
Eric Quaempts
Natural Resources Director
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation

Historically, western management approaches have often struggled to make clear, direct links between natural resource management goals and people. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation’s (CTUIR) Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has organized its functions and responsibilities through a focus on traditionally gathered foods identified by the CTUIR community as “First Foods,” including water, fish, big game, roots, and berries.  The First Foods serving ritual in the community’s ceremonies and cultural events identifies a reciprocal relationship between people and the Foods on which they depend.  The physical and temporal organization of First Foods manifested in the serving order is also observed in the active physical and ecological processes occurring on the landscape and is utilized to guide applied management.  We utilize First Foods to bring attention to ecological processes and prioritize efforts to re-naturalize those processes that produce and sustain First Foods. While the First Foods management approach provides a direct and culturally appropriate means to monitor and report restoration success to the Tribal community, it also offers a model approach for non-Tribal resources managers responsible for water, water quality, fish, wildlife, and their habitats.  Management examples are provided in the form of a River Vision approach to floodplain restoration, which the CTUIR applies in five subbasins and 43,900 km2 in NE Oregon and SE Washington, USA. A brief preview of an Uplands Vision is also provided.


Eric Quaempts has served as the Director for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation’s (CTUIR) Department of Natural Resources (DNR) since 2004, and developed and implemented the First Foods management approach in 2006-07.   An enrolled member of the CTUIR, Eric has spent most of his life living on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and his professional career has been focused in working on the reservation and in the Ceded Lands of the CTUIR.

He has presented the CTUIR’s First Foods management approach in a variety of forums, including state and national professional meetings, local, state, and federal governments, inter-tribal forums, and at the Universidad de Concepcion in Chile and to aboriginal communities and land managers in Australia.

He served as the Oregon Tribal representative to the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board from 2009 – 16, including five as co-chair, and currently serves on the Oregon Water Resources Commission.

Eric earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife Science from Oregon State University.

His personal interests include family, fly-fishing, photography, traveling, cooking, and dining, fine or otherwise. His daughter, Sascha, is eight.