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November 9, 2023 - November 12, 2023

Pacific Northwest Trip: The Dammed Columbia with Brodie Cass Talbott & Candace Larson *1 spot left*

On this exciting, 4-day van trip, we go beyond just birds and explore the natural and human history of the Columbia River, investigating its contentious role as a major supplier of “green energy” while also imperiling endangered fish and Indigenous fishing grounds.

We’ll start our journey heading upstream, visiting the lower four Columbia River dams over the course of the trip. In addition to learning about the dams and their impact on salmon, and people, we’ll also take some time to enjoy birding these unique habitats. The spillways of dams often create easy feeding opportunities for birds  (which is great for birds and birders, but a serious challenge for migrating fish) and late fall can have large concentrations of gulls, including Bonaparte’s, Sabine’s, and other uncommon to rare gull species. Visits to other locations along the Columbia will give us opportunities to see a variety of loons, grebes, and sea ducks that are among our latest migrant birds.

We’ll also take time to explore the several National Wildlife Refuges that were created in order to mitigate the impact of the dams, including McNary NWR and Umatilla NWR. Here, pockets of habitat should hold wintering songbirds, raptors, and increasing numbers of waterfowl.

The human history of this area is a focus of this trip, and visits to the site of Celilo Falls (which was inundated by the creation of the Dalles Dam) and the Wanapum Heritage Center will help tell the story of how these modern engineering marvels drastically changed the way of life for tribes of the Pacific Northwest, who lost treaty-guaranteed fishing grounds that were central to their culture, spirituality, and economy. A visit to Ice Harbor Dam on the lower Snake River will introduce us to the debate around removing the four lower Snake dams, in order to help prevent the total loss of salmonids from the river.

Please click below for a more detailed itinerary, and feel free to reach out to either guide to learn more about if this trip is right for you.


Distance: Multiple short walks of less than 1 mile.
Elevation changes: Minimal.
Trail: A variety of trails, but mostly wide gravel, bark chip, or paved trails.
Pacing: Slow
Rest Stops: We will have multiple stops, including a lunch stop, each day.
Sun Exposure: Full sun exposure for most of the day.
Amenities: Regular restroom breaks throughout the day. Please note that some hotel rooms might be on the second story with no elevator. Please let your guide know if a first floor room would be preferred.
Public transit: Gateway Fred Meyer can be reached by Max or Tri-met


Explore the legacy and impacts of dams in the Pacific Northwest!

Join Brodie Cass Talbott and Candace Larson to explore the landscapes, history, and environmental impacts of the dams that define the Pacific Northwest, as well as the rich mosaic of National Wildlife Refuges that were established to mitigate those impacts.


Trip Details

  • Trip Leaders: Brodie Cass Talbott and Candace Larson
  • Fee: $945 members / $1045 non-members
  • Single Supplement Rooming Fee: $260
  • When: November 9-12, 2023
  • Group size: Limited to 14 participants
  • What is included: Meals, lodging, transportation, and the services of your experienced Bird Alliance of Oregon leaders
  • Not included: Dinner and alcoholic beverages


November 9, 2023
November 12, 2023
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Tara Lemezis