Explore to Conserve: Kamchatka Project

kamchatkaWe want everyone to get to know our friends over at Kamchatka Project, an amazing educational/adventurous pursuit to raise awareness about Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. Read on, and be sure to head over to their educational resource the Schoolhouse where you can learn about conservation issues and score lots of sweet, free gear.

About Kamchatka Project:

Unless you play Risk or daydream about fly fishing, you have probably never heard of eastern Russian’s Kamchatka Peninsula- one of the last truly wild places on Earth. The volcanic, 700 mile long peninsula is a place where 1/3 of Pacific salmon spawn, a place with some of the densest brown dear populations in the world, a place with no dams, no massive extractive resource operations, less than one person per square kilometer, only one major highway, and some of the best unexplored whitewater rivers on the planet. Kamchatka, however, is no protected Eden.

In the summer of 2010, seven whitewater kayakers will embark on an expedition to explore this Siberian mountain landscape in an effort to raise public awareness of the complex relationships between the place, its people, and its fisheries.

kamchatka river

Today, oil and gas companies line up to drill wells and build pipelines in Kamchatka, illegal salmon poaching is a billion-dollar-a-year industry, and local people and politicians are desperate for any source of income capable of keeping food on often Spartan tables.

The Kamchatka Project represents a shift within the adventure community from exploration for exploration’s sake to exploration for the aid of conservation. The paddlers who are the Kamchatka Project are dedicated to this change, and have worked for more than a year to build a large network of invested individuals who believe in the ideals of the project.

In early October 2009, the Kamchatka Project launched the Schoolhouse, an online forum where people from diverse backgrounds discuss and learn about salmon and their role in Kamchatka life. Their effort built upon previous outreach work by creating an open-source community focused on learning more about Kamchatka and its complex set of issues.

From October through February, team members used the Schoolhouse to introduce weekly topics related to the region’s diverse ecosystems, economies and societal pressures. Contributions and feedback from participants in the Schoolhouse bolstered the team’s knowledge, and helped to build the foundation of a unique and powerful educational tool that will be converted into a high school curriculum. This curriculum will remain online for future use by educators from around the world.

Once in country, the team will attempt three first descents down largely unmapped waterways. They will work to collect baseline hydrologic and biological data that will be used by scientists currently working in Kamchatka. Additionally, they will document their experience for use in a feature-length film that will be created upon completion of the expedition.

To learn more, get involved, or make a donation, visit Kamchatakproject.org. While there look for a link to the Schoolhouse where there are regular contests and prizes for those who join in the learning and discussion. Also find the team on Facebook and Twitter.

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Filed under Adventure, Impact, Rivers, Salmon

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