Urban Rewilding on the Spokane River
Presented by Paul Lindholdt and Greg Gordon
This month’s program offers a variety of perspectives on the Spokane River. Our speakers, Paul Lindholdt, professor of English at Eastern Washington University, will speak on a forthcoming book he edited on the river. Greg Gordon, professor of Environmental Studies at Gonzaga, will join a few of his students to discuss the ecology of the river and potential for restoration.
Native American tribes harvested the river’s resources for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years, managing their environment in an ecological sustainable manner. Can we in the 21st century do the same?
One of the major challenges facing the Spokane River is the urban environment. Urbanization threatens more species in the U.S. than any other human activity, primarily through habitat loss and replacement of native species with exotics. In the continental U.S., the total size of urban areas now exceeds that of protected areas, such as national parks and wilderness. Not only does urbanization lead to loss of biodiversity, human residents of cities suffer from “nature deficit disorder” because of loss of contact with the natural world.
The Spokane River is constrained by six dams, and humans have dramatically altered the hydrology, as well as the species composition. Nevertheless, it still remains a more or less functional ecosystem. But how can we enhance its ecological potential to build a heathier natural and human environment? While we may not be able to fully return the Spokane River to its pristine condition, we can restore and rewild many aspects. To learn more about the past, present, and future of the Spokane River attend the Spokane Audubon meeting on April 12 at 7:30pm.