At an event held in Spokane, WA on Friday February 27, Virgil Seymour of the Sinixt Nation presented Crystal Spicer and Janet Spicer with the Sierra Club’s Watershed Hero Award in recognition of their work to restore the upper Columbia River and its associated ecosystem.
The recognition is a result of their efforts to rally politicians and experts about the cause and the dedication to oversee the formation of the Columbia Basin Revitalization Coalition.
This is an organization whose website states that its mandate is a “Call for an improved dam management plan that will allow restoration and revitalization within the Columbia River Basin.”
The women were honored jointly by the American organizations, the Sierra Club and the Centre for Environmental Law and Policy (CELP.)
Sisters Crystal and Janet Spicer were motivated by the desire to seek changes in the Columbia River Treaty in order to protect and restore the Upper Columbia River, where they grew up.
After an idyllic childhood on a prosperous farm in the Nakusp area, they then watched thousands of people forced from their homes and the devastating impact on the ecosystem and its wildlife.
Janet Spicer wrote a 2014 letter to all local media, “The year 1964; heart attacks, death, two years for the smoke to clear as 2,300 of us were forced from our homes and farms. Tens of thousands of mammals drowned or starved to death. 266,518 acres of our very best valley bottoms submerged, extensive old growth forest drowned as it stood. That was half a century ago when the Columbia River Treaty dams were constructed to impound water in vast industrial reservoirs “on call” for the U.S.”
Crystal Spicer said, in an interview with CELP “as much as it has hurt me to watch a beautiful valley and living river so seriously disrupted, I’ve always considered myself to be one of the very fortunate ones to have lived the first 18 years of my life on the shores of the Columbia before the Treaty dams were built. It gave me a solid perspective on, appreciation for, and understanding of sustainable systems. If I can dedicate 18 years back to the river to see some restoration, I’ll be happy.”
Also honoured Friday was Dr. Allan Scholz, a fisheries scientist and professor at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA. Dr. Scholz has been pivotal in restoring fisheries in the Upper Columbia River region.
“Winter Waters” is an awards night held each year as a joint effort between the Sierra Club’s Upper Columbia River Group and CELP to celebrate the work being done to restore the upper Columbia River and honour those who have made contribution to protecting water for common good.