February Member Spotlight: Paul Seamons and Dee Vadnais of Deer Island, OR

Dee Vadnais and Paul Seamons

Dee Vadnais and Paul Seamons, photo credit Karin Cope of Nova Scotia. 

The Columbia has sustained us. We must sustain the Columbia.

By Acasia, Berry, Development Director

Growing up, Dee Vadnais, fifth generation Oregonian,
spent her summers swimming and picnicking with parents and friends on Sauvie Island beaches, looking across the river at the rounded cap of an un-exploded Mt St Helens. But, even then, there was talk of radiation from Hanford entering the water and concern over the heavy pollution in the Willamette. She wondered if the salmon would continue to return. Her husband, Paul Seamons, moved to be near the river close to 50 years ago. Together they raised their family playing on the banks and in the waters. Paul worked on the Columbia, and owes his livelihood to the river. They feel a responsibility to preserve and enhance the Columbia for those that follow.

Paul shares his thoughts on the river…

“The Columbia has provided so much to our human species for so long. The salmon runs provided sustenance for hundreds of thousands of humans here for ten thousand years. The river, and the power produced from it, arguably won the Second World War–the aluminum smelters powered by her hydropower produced enough aluminum that we could build a fighter plane EACH HOUR during the height of that awful war. At the same time, Hanford, also powered by the dams, produced the plutonium that fueled the atom bomb that ended the war in the Pacific.”

“Are we content squandering this tremendous endowment by disrespecting and destroying our natural heritage? These depredations of the Columbia, in which we are all complicit, are ethically wrong and culturally, economically and environmentally suicidal.”

“There is hope when Riverkeeper takes a stand on local issues, and a sense of meaningful purpose in being involved. Supporting the work of Columbia Riverkeeper is essential to preserving and maintaining the Columbia as our legacy for those that come after.”

Watercolor painting by Dee Vadnais.

Watercolor painting by Dee Vadnais.

Riverkeeper has become their touchstone of sanity and hope. They have watched Columbia Riverkeeper over the years. From LNG to coal exports to oil-by-rail, Dee and Paul are inspired by Riverkeeper’s work with river communities to protect clean water and our climate. 

Paul notes all of these proposed projects share a common theme:

“Irresponsibly prolonging the agony of the fossil fuel economy while at the same time irresponsibly risking the ecology of the river. The immediate beneficiaries of those proposed ‘developments’ were few and mostly far, far away. But the risks posed were right here to this river and to the people of the Northwest that depend on her. And the damage done to the earth’s atmosphere and to the oceans and to the public health by expanding fossil fuel development would be thrust upon ALL global citizens, particularly the poorest. This would be irresponsibility on a global scale.”

“Riverkeeper has been successful, over and over again, every time, in successfully contesting these developments promoted by large corporations, led by seasoned and determined advocates with virtually unlimited budgets and tremendous political clout. Columbia Riverkeeper is a dozen dedicated folks whose combined salaries were certainly much less than even the expense accounts of the developers against which they fought.  Riverkeeper has been successful in the courts of law and they have been successful in the court of public opinion. A truly remarkable track record.”

“Columbia Riverkeeper is a tremendously effective–and cost effective–organization. My support of their work helps me to do my part to protect our ‘glorious heritage’.”

Thank you Paul and Dee, we are grateful to be standing up for the Columbia and our future with you.

1 Comment

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One Response to “February Member Spotlight: Paul Seamons and Dee Vadnais of Deer Island, OR”

  1. Marianne Brown says:

    Well said, Paul and Dee!I’m proud to know an environmentally responsible couple and applaud your efforts. I hope to hear more about your work with Riverkeepers in the future.