Exhibit Opens for Ice Age Floods Geologic Trail

Dry Falls - The Result of Massive Ice Age FloodingI got word yesterday that the National Parks Conservation Association has a new exhibit in Seattle called the "Ice Age Floods: A story waiting to be told". The story of the Ice Age Floods has always been a topic of particular interest with me as a resident of Washington State. During the last Ice Age, the continental ice sheet crept into what is today Northern Montana. This massive ice sheet blocked melting water from flowing to the Pacific. The water collected behind this ice sheet creating a massive lake near present day Missoula, MT. The water eventually broke through the ice sheet and created a massive flood event that scoured the land in the Columbia Basin of Washington State. Driving through these scabbed lands today is really remarkable, especially among the towering cliffs of cut-away Basalt, the obvious remaining result of the flooding.

The story is being told today by many different groups. Agencies along the route of the flood, including the state parks in Washington, Oregon, and Montana have wayside signs and interpretive centers (I think the best is the Ginkgo Petrified Forest park near Vantage, WA). The story is told by private groups too. Just this last year I had the opportunity to develop a movie on this subject for the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center. And, earlier this year NOVA produced a great one hour program about the floods called 'Mystery of the Megaflood'.

But, there is a problem, as NPCA Northwest regional director Sean Smith points out. "Currently, the Ice Age Floods region lacks a coordinated approach to interpreting its resources and there is presently no consistent explanation about the history of the flood." I think he's right, the story of the floods is so big (involving millions of acres over 4 different states) that it needs to be told at the federal level. For the last year, there has been strong Congressional support for a new Ice Age Floods Geological Trail to be managed by the National Park Service. Within the last two weeks, the House of Representatives approved a plan authored by Washington State Congressman Doc Hastings to go ahead with the new Trail. And even NPS Director Designate Bomar was asked about it by Washington Senator Maria Cantwell during her confirmation process:
Cantwell Question: Originally the National Park Service supported establishment of the Ice Age Flood Trail as encompassed in S. 206 which passed the Senate in November 2005. At a recent hearing on the bill on the House side, the Park Service reversed their opinion and opposed the bill. The proposal enjoys wide, bipartisan support. If you are confirmed as the new director of the NPS, would you be open to reconsidering the Park Service's public stance on this proposal?

Bomar Answer: I am aware of the strong support among the Pacific Northwest congressional delegation for the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail proposal. The National Park Service conducted a study on Ice Age Floods and recommended, as the preferred alternative, the establishment of a National Geologic Trail ' an auto route through areas that have prominent flood features. The Department has opposed the legislation in its current form and urged a less costly alternative ' expanding on the interpretation that is already being done at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. If legislation to establish this trail does not pass during the 109th Congress and is reintroduced next Congress, the Department will review its position on the legislation, and I will be part of that process.
If you happen to be in the Seattle area and want to check out this NPCA exhibit, it can be found in historic Pioneer Square at 313-A 1st Ave S. to be viewed between Tuesday and Friday 10 to 5, and on Saturday between 11 and 4 through the end of December. While you are down there, you can check out the new renovated digs for the Klondike Gold Rush too.



NPCA's opening of the Ice Age Floods: A story waiting to be told was a huge success. More than 50 people including Dale Middleton, past president of the Ice Age Floods Institute, turned out to view flood resource photographs by DJ Bradley and Bruce Bjornstad, as well as learn more about the flood story.

The show runs through January with upcoming events including an Ice Age Floods presentation by Lake Roosevelt's Chief of Education Lynne Brougher on November 2nd, and a book signing with Bruce Bjornstad on December 7th. If you need more information on these or other NPCA events please contact Shane Farnor at sfarnor@npca.org.,
Hi Sean,

Thanks for the additional information about the exhibit, the NPS presentation, and the book signing event. It sounds like you all will be busy for the next few months. I'm going to make a point to stop in and check it out.

Stop by anytime. One correction, the Lynne Brougher presentation is on November 9 at 7:00 pm rather than the 2nd.