By: Lauren Wood
This month we wanted to highlight one of our many incredible partners doing good work to protect the places we love to explore and visit. I was recently able to get a hold of Eric Balken, the intrepid Executive Director of Glen Canyon Institute. I asked him a bit about their important mission and how they work to fight for the rights of a free river.
What drew you to work for GCI? (& why have you chosen to stick around so long?)
I was initially drawn to GCI because I’ve had a close connection to the river since I was a teenager. The best memories of my youth were floating down the Green River with my friends getting lost in Ed Abbey books. I’ve continued my work with the organization for so many years because the progress we’re making is exciting! Even though it’s incremental, the conversation about restoring Glen Canyon today is much more serious among policy leaders than it’s ever been.
Any specific campaign you’re working on right now that gets you stoked?
We’re working with two research groups right now that are doing some really exciting stuff. One is a group of researchers from Utah State University that are studying how sediment moves out of Glen Canyon’s side canyons as the reservoirs come down. The other is a group called the Emerging Rapids Project, who are using historical photography to measure the reemergence of rapids in Cataract Canyon as the reservoir comes down. Both of these groups are on the cutting edge of developing an understanding of what the future of Glen Canyon will look like.
How has covid impacted your ability to advocate if at all? How can we (holiday audience) best support?
Covid has forced GCI to postpone all of our field trips and outreach events for the immediate future. While those are certainly the funnest part of our work, there is plenty of “behind the scenes” work that’s keeping us busy, like coordinating the next steps of research in Glen Canyon, a canyon cleanup in the fall, and working with policy leaders to ensure Fill Mead First and Glen Canyon’s restoration are a part of Colorado River policy discussions from here on out.
The best way to support GCI right now is to get and stay connected with us by signing up for our email list (we send one informative and fun email a month), and follow our social media channels, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Medium. A key part of our mission is to keep our members and the public educated and informed, and apprised of when we have opportunities to take action.
Feel free to reach out to Eric and get involved in GCI’s important work. We are excited to have them join us again in 2022 for another Cataract Canyon excursion July 31st- August 5th. More details forthcoming!