Invited Speakers 2023

The 2023 Symposium invited speakers and the topics to be addressed are:

Guillaume Mauger, Research Scientist
UW Climate Impacts Group

Climate Change and Rivers in the Pacific Northwest: What does it mean and what can you do about it?
Rivers are a focal point of climate change impacts -- affected by declining snowpack, heavier rain events, rising sea levels, and a host of other changes. Recent research, for example, estimates that spring snowpack has already declined by 15-30% since 1950 in the western US. Many regions, agencies, and other groups are actively working to plan and prepare for the impacts of climate change. Numerous resources exist to support these efforts, ranging from science syntheses to interactive visualizations.

As in restoration more broadly, the pace of climate change adaptation is slow compared to the need. As a result, recent efforts to support adaptation have focused more specifically on evaluating effectiveness and addressing the barriers to implementation. For example, one recent study estimated the flood and sediment storage potential of tributary restoration on the Puyallup River. In other work, we recently co-developed a climate adaptation needs assessment with the Snohomish Lands Strategy. The assessment goes beyond data and science needs to include attitudes and behaviors, integration of local knowledge, policy and planning, capacity building, and equity considerations.

This talk will briefly review the latest science of climate change impacts, with a focus on Pacific Northwest rivers. We will also highlight existing tools and resources to support climate change planning, prioritization, and design. Finally, we will highlight examples from existing efforts to integrate climate change in river management, highlighting needs, challenges, and lessons learned.

Erica Gies, Independent Journalist and Author of "Water Always Wins"
Websites: and
“Slow Water” Movement Is Harnessing the Power of Systems to Protect Us from Droughts and Floods

The severe floods and droughts brought by climate change inevitably spur calls for higher levees, bigger drains, and longer aqueducts. But in fact, our development -- urban sprawl, industrial agricultural and the engineered way we attempt to control water -- is making these disasters worse. We’ve disrupted the hydrological cycle by filling in 87 percent of the world’s wetlands and significantly altering two-thirds of the planet’s major rivers and 75 percent of the world’s land area. As our control systems fail, we are forced to reckon afresh with an eternal truth: water always wins.

The good news: Even if the world is slow to reduce emissions, local and regional communities can work together to adapt our human-altered landscape to reduce the impacts of flooding and water scarcity. The root of our manufactured problems with water is linear, single-minded problem solving that doesn’t take into account water’s integrated relationships with the underground, microbes, plants, critters and ourselves.

But today water innovators around the world are asking a revolutionary question: What does water want? Experts in hydrology, historical ecology, restoration, landscape architecture and urban planning are using close observation, historical research, study of ancient animal and human practices, and cutting-edge science to answer that question. They are examining and work with water’s relationship with rocks and soil, microbes, beavers, and ancient and current human practices.

So what does water want? Modern civilizations speed water away, erasing its slow phases on the land that absorb floods, store water for droughts, and grow food. The key to greater resilience, say the water detectives, is an un-engineering that allows water to stall on the land; I call this the “Slow Water” movement. Like Slow Food, Slow Water approaches are unique to place: they work with local landscapes, climates and cultures rather than try to control or change them. They are also distributed across the landscape to partially compensate for that 75 percent of land lost to natural systems. It’s akin to the way that solar panels on every roof cumulatively adds up to significant power.

Slow Water has other intertwined benefits: supporting biodiversity, storing carbon, anchoring topsoil, reducing the need for irrigation and fertilizer, cleaning water, building land. Plus, healthy ecosystems provide services and can maintain themselves, saving us money. By understanding what water wants – and holding space for water within our human landscapes – we can win too.

Jeremy FiveCrows, Communications Director
Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission

Deep Roots: Learning from the Indigenous Connection to the Land

Since time immemorial, tribal people of this region have recognized that the land sustains both our bodies as well as our spirits and cultures. An overview of how tribes were defined by their homelands, how those homelands have changed and continue to change, and how new residents can learn from their example to put down their own deep roots into the land they now call home.

Jeremy has worked in CRITFC’s Public Information Office for 24 years. He is currently the Communications Director, tasked with helping shape and disseminate external and internal communications for the organization. Jeremy was born and raised on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. He grew up traveling throughout the Nez Perce homeland with his family on hunting, fishing, and berry-picking trips. These travels instilled in him a strong sense of place and a dedication to preserving the environment. This was only increased when he saw the dedication to cherishing and protecting the environment of the people of Norway when he lived there for two years. (He notes, “I can safely say that I am probably the only Nez Perce Indian who is fluent in Norwegian.”)

Roy Iwai, Water Resources Specialist, Clean Rivers Coalition Steering Committee Chair
Multnomah County on behalf of the Clean Rivers Coalition

Connection, Disconnection, and Reconnection: Sharing cultural values in a clean water outreach campaign
The Follow the Water clean water outreach campaign is a statewide initiative to create culture around water, so that we can have a more involved community. Shared values, beliefs and behaviors are elements of culture. Beginning with an understanding of Native American cultural values around water, we move the audience through a path to make a deep connection to our waters, understand how our
behaviors impact our water, and behave in ways that are aligned with our values.

Roy has served as the chair of the Clean Rivers Collation since its formation in 2016. The Clean Rivers Coalition is a voluntary collaborative partnership of over 60 organizations, dedicated to creating a statewide outreach campaign for clean water in Oregon and SW Washington. Roy manages the Water Quality Program in the Multnomah County Transportation Division and frequently collaborates with partners to reduce stormwater pollutants, improve fish passage, and advance equity issues. He has a Master’s degree in Oceanography.