PORTNEUF RIVER, Idaho

DrColdenBaxterFishBiologistwearingbackpack Backpackandcanteenedited

Dr. Colden Baxter, fish biologist, wearing Portneuf River Repository. 2016.

Portneuf River Repository and Canteen.

In April, 2016 I was invited to Pocatello, Idaho, by the City and the Idaho State University art and biology departments to help with the re-envisioning of a 1.6 mile section of the Portneuf River that is encased in a concrete channel. Sixty-five community members joined us for a Gathering of Waters project as we walked along the channelized section of waterway through town. This was a way to bring attention to this very sad portion of the river that is no longer natural but is referred to by locals as “the moat” or “the bunker.” During my nine day stay in Pocatello I had numerous meetings with a variety of local experts and community activists including professors, ecologists, museum directors, city staff, and environmental scientists for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

 

The Portneuf River Repository, a sculptural backpack containing items related to the Pocatello Gathering of Waters project, was designed by me and art department graduate student Colin Wintz. An abandoned painting easel provided the perfect support system for the pack, which was constructed from canvas and then rubbed with river clay. A ceramic canteen for the Repository was made by another graduate art student.

Portneufmeanders

Natural meanders in the Portneuf River near Pocatello, Idaho. Photo by John Sigler.

Portneufupstream PortneufRiverencasedintheconcretechannel

A wild section of the Portneuf River a few miles upstream from Pocatello.

The Portneuf River encased in a concrete channel as it flows through Pocatello.

CommunitymembersalongthechannelizedPortneufRiver

Community members along the channelized Portneuf River.

IdahoTV1 Takingwatersamplefromchannel

Talking with local media about the Pocatello Gathering project. Still image from KPVI News video.

Collecting a water sample from a channelized section of the river.

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Trash being hauled out of the Portneuf River by canoe. Photo by Hannah Sanger.

clayfish2 StudyingmapsataWatershedmeeting

Student making a fish out of river clay embedded with native riparian seeds.

Studying maps at a watershed meeting.

RasterGridofstreamflowinPortneufrivercreatedbyDrMarkStoneCivilEngineeringUNM

Raster grid of stream flow in the Portneuf River. The diagram was created by Dr. Mark Stone, a Civil Engineering professor at the University of New Mexico.

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