SEATTLE - October 5 - The non-partisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today opens its latest art show, Ice Age Floods: A story waiting to be told, amidst recent activity in the U.S. House, which late last month passed a bill sponsored by Washington’s Representative Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) to establish the first national geologic trail for the floods route.
"This is a story waiting to be told," said Sean Smith, NPCA Northwest regional director. "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."
NPCA’s show, which opens today and runs through the end of December, tells a story of the Ice Age Floods through the artwork of local artists. The show is free and open to the public Tuesdays through Fridays 10 am to 5 pm and Saturdays 11 am to 4 pm at 313-A First Avenue, South in Seattle. The show is designed to raise awareness about the floods and to build upon the spirit of congressional efforts to establish the trail.
As proposed the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail would be comprised of a network of routes, accessible by car, that would follow the paths of the floods, starting in Missoula, Montana and ending at the mouth of the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon.
The benefits of the national designation would be twofold: "The Ice Age Floods legislation is a great step in better understanding the Northwest’s natural history and in a day and age where many Western communities are struggling to find new revenue and are becoming more and more reliant on tourism, the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail would be an economic boon across the northwest," added Smith.
According to the Small Business Institute at the University of Montana, a new Ice Age Flood visitor center in Missoula alone would generate between $733,000 and $3.9 million annually. Communities such as Polson, Montana, Lewiston, Idaho, Ellensburg, Yakima, and Spokane in Washington, and Eugene and Astoria in Oregon could see similar benefits.
In addition, our nation’s scientific knowledge would increase from the trail’s establishment. A deeper understanding of Ice Age Flood systems and its resources has already produced spillover scientific benefits. For example, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) gained valuable insight on how to shape the early stages of its Mars program, such as the Pathfinder mission, by studying flood landscapes. Martian landscapes such as the Ares Vallis are very similar to Washington’s Channeled Scablands.
Washington Senator Maria Cantwell introduced a similar bill in the U.S. Senate to establish the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, which passed the Senate on a voice vote. Both the House and Senate bills enjoy broad bi-partisan support from all the states involved: Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho. With this latest move by the U.S. House, the next step is for both bills to be reconciled.