23. Drift Log, Skeena River, British Columbia, Canada.jpg

Drift Log, Skeena River, British Columbia, Canada

The Skeena River is one of North America's largest free-flowing (undammed) rivers. Its course runs from the interior of northern British Columbia to its coast, passing through the world's largest intact temperate rainforest, the Great Bear Rainforest.

To the native nations that share this region, "the word 'Skeena' means "water from cloud," a place of abundant rainfall and persistent cloud cover. Geographically, they rely on a mild climate for growing food and depend upon and honor salmon and mammals such as deer and bears, especially Spirit Bears. Tradition holds that Spirit Bears – a rare local breed of black bears with white/cream-colored fur—signify thanks for the bountiful land.

Along the river's course, it passes through massive Sitka Spruce and Western Red Cedar stands. When the river runs high, and the Pacific Ocean's large tides flood the Skeena's estuary and lower reaches, shoreline trees caught by the high rushing water become drift logs caught in the current, entangled in the shallows, and stranded on its banks. Driftwood, stripped of bark and branches, sometimes serves as material for artists, including indigenous artists Alex and Michelle Storey, who planned community-built sculptures along the riverbanks. (link to article)

- James Baker