Treehuggers International

Below the Surface and the Riverview Project

February 6th, 2012

A Coast to Coast Exploration of America’s Waterways

In between travels across the country, blogging for Outside magazine as Readers of the Year for 2012, and promoting and raising awareness about the plight of America’s rivers and waterways, Below the Surface co-founders Kristian Gustavson and Jared Criscuolo made time to stop by Treehuggers International to talk about the ongoing evolution of the Riverview Project, and the basic principles of Below the Surface.

Kristian and Jared are working with the USGS on their Riverview mapping project.

When We Last Met

Shortly after the explosion and collapse of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil platform in April 2010, and the beginning of what would become the worst environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the largest maritime oil spill in history, Jared Criscuolo and Kristian Gustafson of Below the Surface paid a visit to the Gulf Coast to see for themselves the extent of the damage.

Veterans of a previous excursion to the Gulf Coast and the Atchafalaya River, the two made quick use of their established network of contacts in the region to take stock of the situation facing the environment and the livelihood of the Gulf’s fishing communities and tradition. The stories they brought back of devastated economies and ruined marshlands were tragic, as detailed by Jared in his August 2010 appearance on Treehuggers International.

Meanwhile, the long clean-up continues, along with the ongoing environmental and economic repercussions of the disaster. Sadly, little has been done to change drilling conditions in the Gulf of Mexico, and new oil leases are once again being issued for the Gulf of Mexico as U.S. domestic oil production reaches an all-time high.

Riverview and Outside

Since then, Jared and Kristian have continued growing Below the Surface, continuing their river expeditions and experimenting with alternative fuel development. The two have also been busy developing and applying new software applications which will help with better mapping and charting of waterways, as well as revealing new opportunities for river conservation and local involvement through Below the Surface’s Riverview Project.

To top it all off, Jared and Kristian were honored for their pioneering conservation approaches and adventurous spirit when they were named Outside magazine’s Readers of the Year. The two will continue to blog for Outside throughout 2012 as they further develop the Riverview Project, in conjunction with their partners at the U.S. Geological Survey, The Nature Conservancy and the Surfrider Foundation.

Paddleboarding on the Atchafalaya River.

Jared Criscuolo and Kristian Gustavson met while volunteering with the Surfrider Foundation, and upon forming Below the Surface began a number of high-profile expeditions of some of the wildest and most at-risk waterways in the nation, highlighting the need for clean and responsible water policies from the headwaters of creeks and streams to the mouths of the biggest rivers.

Kristian first explored the Gulf Coast region and the Mississippi River as part of Below the Surface’s Downstream Campaign, followed by the Gaining Ground expedition of the Atchafalaya River, one of Louisiana’s last wild waterways.

Kristian and Jared have also undertaken explorations of California’s Sacramento River as the basis of their Spring to Sandtrap expedition, which followed the length of the Sacramento River from its headwaters in the Mt. Shasta high country into the San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento Delta.

Jared also represented Below the Surface on the Coastal CODE expedition of the Alaskan panhandle, working on a weeklong beach clean-up effort with the Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation and addressing the global impact of litter and debris accumulating in the world’s oceans.

Refilling the BTS Ford F-250 with New Leaf Biofuel's B99 vegetable oil blend.

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