USGS - science for a changing world

USGS Science to Support the Elwha River Restoration Project

Running Rivers—a profile of geologist Amy East: Detailed Transcript

(Amy East walks through Carmel River with target used for the topographic surveys)

“I got hooked on this field in one class. I knew what I wanted to do after one class.”

(Amy walking down the Carmel River to the former site of the San Clemente Dam)

“Part of the reason I was always happy to be doing this sort of work, is because I love to be outdoors. You know I’d hike, backpack, I like to spend time on rivers anyways. And a lot of the fieldwork that I’ve done overlaps so much with what I was doing in my personal life that it was just a really fun, easy fit for me. I was always really interested in just questions about how the earth works. I always knew I wanted to be a scientist from when I was really young. What form it took sort of developed as I got into more recreational activities when I got older.”

(Amy looking at site maps, walking on a narrow trail to the site, along the river, rafting down a river for work, and doing topographic surveys and pebble counts in the Carmel River with NOAA colleagues. Also still images of her whitewater kayaking.)

Then overlaid text on her video of her working that reads, Amy studies the changes to rivers following some of the nation's largest dam removals. She's spent 10 years on the Elwha River in Washington and three years on the Carmel River in California. Plus 13 years and counting on the Colorado River.)

“I didn’t start learning whitewater kayaking until I started working on rivers. Because I would see groups of kayakers go by in the Grand Canyon and just thought, ‘Oh that looks like so much fun. I’ve gotta work on my kayaking skills and get better so that I can run really fun rivers.’”

(video of rafting through the Grand Canyon for work, and still images of the river running through the Grand Canyon)

“I’ve actually gotten to bring my family into a couple of places I’ve worked, which has just been really fun. My husband and I did a backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon about four years ago, and we were collecting data for one of my projects during a 5-day backpacking trip.”

(shots of Amy hiking and sitting with a weather station along the Colorado River)

Measuring Change to the Elwha River
(Overlaid Title on Image of Amy doing a topographic survey on Elwha)

“The Elwha project was so much fun- for a lot of reasons. It’s one of the biggest environmental restoration projects in the country. You hear so much bad news about the environment, and it was an example of people doing something really really neat that was positive for the environment, and to be able to study the changes that happened there as a result was so much fun.”

(aerial video of dams on Elwha River and shots of Amy on Glines Canyon Dam before removal; also video of roaring river after a storm)

“My son was about 9 months old… my husband hiked him in to every one of our survey  reaches, and we have pictures of him helping us out on a survey on the Elwha River, eating seaweed on the beach that didn’t used to be there before they took the dams out.”

(imagery of son, Gideon, playing on the beach, aerial footage of the river mouth, and image of son eating seaweed on the beach)

(Collage of articles and movies made about the dam removal on the Elwha)

“It’s a project that a lot of people get excited about. Whether or not they understand very much about the ecosystem or the physical processes that we study—it doesn’t matter. People just get so excited and think, “Oh we have done something really neat to restore this really beautiful place.”

(a perspective view through the viewfinder of the topographic equipment, then drone footage flying along the changed river, and then several videos of returning salmon to the river with overlaid text that reads: As of summer 2016, salmon haven't been seen that far above the upper dam site for nearly a century.)

“It would be amazing to go back there and see salmon swimming through our control site. And I always thought I would cry with happiness if that happened.”

River image with credits that read:
Thanks to NOAA Fisheries- Josh Brown, Lee Harrison, Roselea Bond; salmon and aerial footage of Elwha

Also John Gussman provided aerial footage of Elwha river mouth (©Double Click Productions)

Additional footage and stills provided by Amy and Josh East, Andy Ritchie, Ian Buckley, Hot Shots Photography, National Park Service. Thanks to Josh Logan and UAS (USGS) and lil' Gideon

Music by Scott Holmes (Empires), creative commons license 4.0
Podington Bear (Going Forward Looking Back), creative commons license 3.0

Filmed & Produced by Amy West (not East)

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