Interning at Crag Law Center is not your usual summer job. As many of my law school friends sat in cubicles writing memos and filing papers for court one summer Tuesday, I had the great opportunity to whitewater kayak the Clackamas River with the Crag Staff. This field trip allowed the co-workers to bond outside of the office, reflect on the work that Crag does, and enjoy the scenic qualities of Oregon. Since it was some of the staff’s first time in a kayak, it was great to have Northwest River Guides help us navigate the Clackamas.
Spending a day on the river reminded me of all of the different impacts that Northwest river systems face and the work that Crag does to address those impacts. The Clackamas River Basin consists of 16 different watersheds, all which are affected by multiple impacts to water quality. With close proximity to Mount Hood National Forest, the recent case of NEDC v. Brown would increase protections to these watersheds and improve water quality. Also, the river provides an ecosystem for coho and chinook salmon, and bullhead and steelhead trout. Due to the work that Crag has done in the past, such as representing Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) to protect habitat for inland native fish and securing the removal of the Hemlock Dam on the Wind River Watershed, these species face better ecosystems across the Northwest.
Fortunately, thoughts regarding water quality and regulation seldom entered our minds while we were actually on the river, as it was near impossible to focus on anything but navigating the rapids. Concerns about deadlines, appeals and settlements quickly retreated into the back of our minds as we faced the difficult challenge of not flipping the kayaks (and evading the surreptitious interns who had a knack for pushing others out of their kayak). Needless to say, the trip was refreshing, both physically and mentally, allowing the staff* to have a day of relaxation and enjoyment.
*Certain attorneys were too hard-working to be able to attend, and we thank them for their dedication.