'Freeing the Waters'

A new group in Ashland is trying to raise awareness of waterways and land restoration through art.

Madrona Arts, an Oregon-based nonprofit organization, will present the first of three openings at Studio 5 for their "Klamath River: Freeing the Waters" benefit for tribal environmental and fisheries programs on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. Studio 5 is located at 258 A St., above Lela's Caf&


Each artist works to express the environment and its issues. displaying their work in conjunction with educational outreach by environmental groups, the artists will show their support for the ecological restoration efforts. Nearly all organizations working on Klamath restoration now agree on the removal of four dams that pollute the Klamath River and impede salmon and steelhead from reaching spawning grounds. PacifiCorp, the owners of the dam, are the exception. In addition to dam removal, this estimated 20-year restoration effort is complex and requires cooperative efforts throughout the basin, according to Madrona founder Diana Hartel.

"We wanted to form a new organization where we are able to collaborate more between environmentalists and artists and bring awareness in a different way. We hope to bring more people into it," Hartel said. "As artists we've been expressing the landscape and we've all been very aware of how damaged the environment is becoming wherever we go."

One of the organizations collaborating with Madrona Arts is Klamath Riverkeeper, whose goal is to restore water quality on the Klamath River and bring vitality and abundance back to the river and its people.

"The Klamath sets quotas for federal fisheries. This means that the health of Klamath salmon doesn't just affect Klamath communities, but also commercial fishing communities throughout Oregon and California," said Malena Marvin, outreach and science director of Klamath Riverkeeper. "Those communities face a dramatic loss of livelihood when the Klamath shuts down the ocean harvest. It also affects four native tribes who live right on the river &

the Yurok, Karuk, Hupa and Klamath tribes. The Klamath River used to be the third most productive salmon river in the United States, just after the Columbia and Sacramento Rivers, but now has just 10 percent of its historic salmon population."

Klamath Riverkeeper works closely with the Klamath River tribes, fishermen, and recreational groups, in all aspects of their programs.

"Madrona Arts joined together on the Klamath River Basin issues because it is very near to us and it's a huge set of issues," Hartel said. "These issues have been long-term here and I think people forget or they tune out or it sounds too difficult and they don't want to think about it anymore. We want to keep bringing it back. We have to keep bringing it back. Let's save what we have, let's restore. Restoration can happen quite quickly when it's given the right push. I've seen it happen and I know what it's like. The more we talk and raise our own awareness of the entire system, the more intelligent our decisions and our votes can be."

Before coming to Ashland, Hartel was the founder of the New York-based Bronx Community Works, which focused on urban park eco-restoration, community gardens, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, fiber arts and spoken-word arts. Community Works was dissolved in 2006 and its programs are now self-run within partner organizations.

Participating landscape artist Phyllis Trowbridge is very excited to be a part of Madrona Arts.

"I finally get to combine two lifelong passions &

art and concern about the environment," Trowbridge said.

Some of the most active environmental groups working on Klamath River issues will be providing information, books and ways to actively participate in saving and restoring the Klamath River Basin. Author Stephen Most has offered his book, "River of Renewal: Myth and History in the Klamath Basin," for sale as a donation.

For more information about this Friday's show at Studio 5 or how to become involved with Madrona Arts or Klamath Riverkeeper, contact Diana Hartel at 552-0703 or go to their Web site at madronaarts.com.

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