Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ecuador's Classic Jondachi River Needs Your Help!

Don't let Ecuador's Jondachi become another victim. The Ecuadorian Rivers Institute has been very successful in stopping projects in Ecuador in the past, and we are hopeful they can stop this one as well, but they can't do it without our help. You can actually make a difference in this case, see below what you can do to preserve one of Ecuador's most classic creek run.

The state-owned thermal-power generating company, Termopichincha, has announced plans to develop a hydroelectric project on the Upper Jondachi River, and would mostly de-water the section of river from La Merced de Jondachi to the take-out bridge at Km-18 on the road from Tena to Baeza (This is the ultra-classic section that we all love to paddle). This would have a devastating impact to one of the best whitewater creek runs in Ecuador. The Ecuadorian Rivers Institute (ERI) is leading a local opposition from paddlers, business owners, and local communities to keep the upper section of the river free-flowing. This legal opposition will prevent Termopichincha from obtaining a water concession for the project. Financial support is needed to cover legal expenses and logistics.

How can you help?

2 ways:

#1 make a donation to ERI. They are operating on a very limited budget and hiring laywers and such is expensive in Ecuador too. Visit ERI's site to make your donation

#2 Matt, the founder of ERI has written up an opposition to the project which must be submitted to the government by May 23rd, 2008. Visit
The last page has a place for signatures of people opposing the project. You can then fax the form into ERI at 1-888-353-9849. I know it's short notice, but if you can get the form into Matt by May 22nd, he will have time to submit it to the government.

If you can speak Spanish and you want more information, you can read more about the project here
Otherwise you can contact Matt Terry at
Act now! Don't let the Jondachi be taken away from us!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

River conservation in Ecuador

San Rafael Falls - site of future diversion for a hydro project In general Ecuador has quite healthy rivers and less pressure to dam them than many places I have traveled. This is likely changing with numerous hydro generation projects being proposed that will affect both whitewater rivers and the wildlife living in some beautiful jungle canyons. So far there are few potential projects that threaten the rivers we regularly run, but there seems to be an increasing interest in them. One of the main reasons for this is that Ecuador is trying to reduce their carbon footprint. Although we of course hope that all nations can succeed rapidly in this goal we also hope that river recreation will be considered when making decisions on these projects. The reality is that Ecuador is a developing nation and its environmental standards are sometimes lax and enforcement of these regulations can be nonexistent.

Fortunately we have a great advocate working on these issues. His name is Matt Terry, he is from the USA but is now a resident in Ecuador and started the Ecuadorian River Institute in 2002. The ERI targets river drainages which are important for recreational river use and advocates protecting river corridors for the benefit of maintaining the high levels of biodiversity and realizing sustainable, tourism-based economies in these areas. This is a non profit 501c3 organization set up in Colorado although the work being done is all in Ecuador. Their website is and I encourage everyone who cares about rivers to visit this site and to contact Matt for more information. He has an amazing amount of energy and persistence to deal with these issues and SWA is happy that he is the river watchdog in Ecuador. We are now facing some critical water management issues, and we all need to support Matt in his efforts to work with the government on sustainable energy development BEFORE we lose valuable paddling resources.
Illegal project on the Rio Pucuno

A recent example of what the ERI is doing: On April 18, 2008, the Ecuadorian Water Authority suspended construction by the Napo Provincial Government on the Pucuno Hydro Project in response to the legal demand brought forward by the ERI for not complying with any environmental regulations or government permits. The Provincial Government has been levied a fine that will supposedly finance the remediation of the affected area. This will be an important precedent for how imprudent and inappropriate development practices by local governments are managed by national government authorities. This project was well on it's way and without ERI bringing it to the authorities attentions it may have been completed without any environmental oversight or even governmental permission.
If you have paddled in Ecuador (or even if you hope to one day), and want to help ERI out, please go to Remember the ERI is up against some big multinational players so they could really use the help.

I plan to post a monthly blog about different conservation issues relating to Ecuador's rivers that will have some good info from Matt as well as some cool photos. Stay tuned, the next one will be on the Rio Jondachi.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Congratulations to the winner of April's contest!

The Small World Adventures, American Whitewater, and Smith Optics summer contest has produced its first winner!

Congrats to Steven M. who was the winner of the monthly contest for Smith products in April! Steven will get his free Smith glasses, and will still have a shot at the grand prize of a free week of kayaking in Ecuador with us.

Steven, this could be you: