A report on the 2019 International Columbia Basin Transboundary Conference: One River, One Future, co-convened by the Council, the Columbia Basin Trust, first nations in British Columbia and Columbia Basin Tribes, is available for public review on the Council’s International Columbia River website.
The conference, which took place in September 2019 in Kimberley, BC., attracted a total of 280 people from Canada and the United States, a near-capacity crowd for the Kimberley Conference Centre. The Trust and Council have convened an international Columbia River conference roughly every five years since 1998.
As with past conferences, the Kimberley event focused on key transboundary Columbia River issues that are important and contemporary in both countries. This time the issues included the impacts of climate change; the future of the Columbia River Treaty; the efforts to control invasive species; reintroduction of anadromous fish to the Columbia above Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams; the future of energy production; and a proposal to improve and better coordinate governance of the river, which begins in British Columbia and flows into the Pacific Ocean near Astoria, Oregon.
The conference also included a trip for all participants to Columbia Lake, headwaters of the river, 55 miles northeast of Kimberley, where First Nations and Columbia Basin Tribes conducted cultural ceremonies and discussed their salmon-recovery efforts. Guides offered tours of the headwaters springs that flow into the lake.
The conference provided participants with a place to connect and collaborate on transboundary issues and, more importantly, discuss opportunities for the future of the basin. The stories, discussions, and sharing allowed citizens from both sides of the international border to plan for a connected future. Cross-border collaboration is critical if we hope to make progress on the key Columbia River issues that will, in some way, affect us all. The central theme of the conference was that there is one river with one future that binds all those who live in its basin.