Hood River resident and Columbia Riverkeeper Executive Director Brett VandenHeuvel traveled to the Gulf of Mexico last month to witness firsthand the impact of BP’s oil spill. With 22 Oregonians, VandenHeuvel spent eight days touring the area and talking with the people of the Gulf who were so drastically impacted by the event.
“I didn’t go to help with the cleanup effort – we knew ahead of time that they weren’t letting volunteers do cleanup work,” VandenHeuvel said. “I went down to listen to people, to witness what was happening and to learn as much as possible from one of the greatest environmental disasters of our generation.”
On Wednesday (7 p.m. at Double Mountain Brewery) VandenHuevel is giving a public presentation title Tales from the Gulf, where he will share his experience and explain how the lessons he learned in the Gulf can be applied to the northwest and the Columbia River.
“I see strong parallels between the Gulf Coast and the Columbia River. We both have communities that are dependent on clean water and healthy ecosystems, including commercial and sport fishing, recreation and clean industry,” VandenHeuvel stated. “The trip to the Gulf was fascinating and entirely changed my perspective on the oil spill, the cleanup response, and the problems in the Gulf. It also reinforced my belief of the importance of people utilizing natural resources – from fishermen to kiteboarders. The more we’re on the water, the more we care about it.”