KEEN Ambassador Kristian Gustavson of Below the Surface recently completed an exploration of the Sacramento River, capturing 360-degree imagery of the waterway, streetview-style. In this first of four episodes, Kristian explains what this project is all about and tells us how it came together.
KEEN: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your involvement with Below the Surface?
KRISTIAN: I grew up in the Midwest and spent a lot of time paddling and swimming in its rivers. Just like all that water eventually reached the sea, so did I. Passion for the outdoors and adventure exposed me to the issues impacting our waterways, especially after I moved to San Diego in 2004 and started surfing. I am the Founder and Director of Research & Explorations for BTS.
KEEN: How did Below the Surface get started?
KRISTIAN: BTS was really started out of necessity. The necessity to have a platform to run various research projects that also allowed room for pure exploration and discovery. I was in my final year as an undergrad at the University of California San Diego when I started working on an independent study project with a professor from Scripps Institution of Oceanography on the impact the Mississippi River has on the Gulf of Mexico. Quite simply, rivers concentrate land-based impacts and deliver them to the coast—those impacts can be good, but when people are in the mix, most often the impacts are negative. We can change that, which is fundamentally why I started BTS. We can be the solution!
KEEN: Why the Sacramento River?
KRISTIAN: The Sacramento River is a key waterway on the West Coast but particularly to California since we get the majority of our water from the San-Joaquin/Sacramento River system. BTS has done some work up there in the past and given the proximity and timeliness of the drought, we figured it’d be a good idea to get back up there. Beyond that, the Sacramento is an amazing river with every kind of adventure opportunity. Throughout the expedition, we took time for some fun and started by taking snowmobiles to the top of Mt. Shasta and skiing down, then kayaking class III & IV rapids on the Upper Sacramento, fly fishing, hiking, and other things to get a sense of not just the river, but the entire watershed. It was a great mix of science, recreation and conservation!
Kristian Gustavson is a KEEN Ambassador and Founder of Below the Surface, a non-profit organization dedicated to the exploration of, and education about the issues surrounding water.