Conservationist Takes Rivers on the Road

National Geographic News
September 29, 2003

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Over the past four decades, Mark Angelo—river conservationist, paddler, teacher, and writer—has traveled along hundreds of waterways on six continents. Well known to Canadians as a passionate and articulate advocate for rivers, he has put together Riverworld, a special presentation that helps draw attention to 2003 as the international year of fresh water.

As a kayaker and rafter, Angelo has descended many of the world's longest rivers such as the Nile, Yangtze, Amazon, and Mekong—and has paddled many of the biggest rapids on Earth. As an avid fly-fisherman, his travels have taken him to many destinations, ranging from the wilderness of New Zealand to the remoteness of Mongolia. He has also traveled extensively throughout Canada's north.

Angelo's presentation premieres September 25 in Vancouver. From there he will be making it in a number of other North American cities. The focus is on "the wonders of river travel," in which he uses his photographs and anecdotes to take his audience to the "most beautiful and remote places on the planet."

But it's all also for a good cause. "My presentation emphasizes the importance of river conservation, provides an overview of the many threats confronting our waterways, and discusses the plight of many indigenous people and cultures that are dependent on rivers," he says.

Angelo is the head of the Fish, Wildlife, Recreation Program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and he is one of North America's most prominent river conservationists. He is the Rivers Chair of the Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia and founder of BC Rivers Day, an event which attracts more than 50,000 participants annually.

In 2001, Angelo received his country's highest honor, the Order of Canada, for his river conservation efforts both at home and abroad. Among his other honors are the Order of British Columbia, the National Recreational Fisheries Award, and Canada's National River Conservation Award.

Angelo talked to National Geographic News about his presentation Riverworld:

What is the purpose of the Riverworld program?

Riverworld takes the audience on an "around the world" tour by river and explores many of the planet's wildest waters and places. The show is based on my own experiences and its intent is to create a greater awareness of the importance of rivers while also focusing on the threats that confront them.

While I think the program is both entertaining and educational, it also has a strong river conservation theme which is appropriate given that the United Nations has declared 2003 as the International Year of Fresh Water.

As a long time paddler, I've also tried to elaborate on the wonders of river travel and the program itself is a bit of a personal journey in that it touches on some of the events over the years that have influenced my own passion for rivers.

Continued on Next Page >>


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