People in kayak on river.Andrew Crighton

News Editor

The Portneuf River Visioning Project is taking its next steps after being approved by Pocatello City Council. In order to spark community interest and support on the upcoming projects to the Portneuf watershed the Visioning Project teamed up with community members and ISU faculty to screen ““UPRIVER: A Film for the Willamette,” which tells the story of a similar project in the Willamette river, a tributary of the Columbia river in Oregon.

“We thought, ‘Hey, this could be kind of fun for us to watch as a community,’” said Sarah Godsey, a professor in the geosciences department. “As we’re taking this plan that the city council has adopted recently as we start to move towards the spring and summer where we might have the opportunity to implement some of the short term ideas.”

The event took place Tuesday, April 25 in the Bengal Theater. Immediately after the film was screened, a panel discussion took place that was open to audience questions.

“There’s a range of panelists that have a range of academic experience or community experience, restoration experience, regulation experience; a whole bunch of different people with different expertise,” Godsey said.

Close up of fish in river.The panel consisted of Colden Baxter, professor of biological sciences, Hannah Sangar, Science and Environment Division Manager for the city, Sue Skinner, a former Environmental Protection Agency employee and Bud Smalley who has 15 years of experience restoration projects in the Upper Portneuf watershed.

The film was chosen because of the many similarities between the Willamette river and the Portneuf. Like the Portneuf, the Willamette runs through agricultural areas, urban areas and has upland forested areas.    

“Sometimes art is a really important way of engaging people around science, so that’s really what this is designed to do,” Godsey said. The cinematography of the film emphasizes the benefits to community and ecosystem river restoration can provide. Godsey wrote the grant proposal that was submitted to the “Let’s Talk about Water” program at the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. CUAHSI is a group of universities across the world that funds research into water studies.

Godsey explained that approximately only 10 percent of these proposals were funded this year. Godsey believes that her’s was funded because the City of Pocatello recently voted on and passed the Portneuf River Vision project, the event already had several sponsors and a fair amount of community support which CUASHI wanted to foster. Godsey was very hopeful that students would be a large part of the audience in the week before the event.

“I think students’ voices are so important because they’re speaking not only for themselves but also for the future of the community,” she said.

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