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Posted: May 13, 2019

Invisible rivers beneath our feet with Dr. Ric Hauer

What do grizzly bears, birds, wolves, and fish have in common? A dependence on gravel bed rivers—a special type of river found in the mountains—and their floodplains.

Here in the Kootenays, our rivers don’t just flow in their visible channels, but also flow underground across the valley floor, supporting an extraordinary diversity of life.

Join Wildsight on Tuesday, May 28 in Fernie or Wednesday, May 29 in Cranbrook for a talk with Dr. Ric Hauer (pictured), “Invisible rivers beneath our feet: Gravel-bed rivers, the Elk River and coal mining..”

Learn about gravel bed rivers, how there’s so much more to our rivers running below the surface and why our rivers are more important that we ever thought. Dr. Hauer will also speak about his research on water pollution from the Elk Valley coal mines, including on the effects of water pollution on macroinvertebrates, those crucial bugs that feed so many of the fish we love.

“To be effective, conservation efforts in mountain landscapes need a paradigm shift that has gravel-bed rivers and their floodplains as the central focus,” says Dr. Hauer.

His research doesn’t just make visible the invisible rivers that run underneath our valleys, but also shows us that we cannot protect our wildlife, our landscapes or our rivers without seeing the interconnections between them. Simply put, gravel bed rivers are at the very centre of our ecosystems. If our rivers are harmed, we’ll see the effects across the landscape.

Dr. Hauer is the leading expert on the special river ecosystems of our area and has dedicated his career to studying gravel bed rivers in mountain ecosystems, publishing more than 100 research articles. For over 40 years, his research has focused on the transboundary watersheds of the Flathead and the Elk/Kootenay region, including rivers, floodplains, wetlands and their connections to our ecosystems.

Dr. Hauer literally wrote the book on stream ecology, as his textbook Methods in Stream Ecology is the most widely used in the field.

Join Wildsight for this free presentation on Tuesday, May 28 at 7 p.m. at the Fernie Seniors’ Centre or Wednesday, May 29 in Cranbrook at the College of the Rockies Lecture Theatre to discover the invisible rivers beneath our feet. You’ll never look at our mountain valleys the same way again.

Lead image: The gravel bed of the Flathead River. Photo: Michael Ready, ILCP.


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