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New Riverside Story Video Released

April 29th, 2019
We met Nathan on the banks of the Escalante River in Utah to hear his story.
Video 4 of 5: Nathan Waggoner
When Nathan isn’t busy running his business, Escalante Outfitters, you can likely find him along a stream, tucked away in a scenic canyon that was carved out by the Escalante River, looking to catch his next fish.
For Nathan, the river is a place to go that clears his mind; a reprieve from the day-to-day bustle that comes with owning a business and a horse packing operation in Escalante, Utah.
Having spent so much of his time along rivers, Nathan has seen first-hand the changes that Russian olive has had on the river’s ecosystem. Russian olive is a thorny invasive plant that quickly took over riverside habitat in the Southwest and changed the river ecosystem. Among its many impacts, the plant crowds out native plants, shades the river, and as a result, affects the water temperature and in-stream habitat for fish.
With its ability to form dense thickets along the river’s banks, Russian olive also deteriorated the river’s natural beauty. It has overtaken areas that were once used for public river access, reducing the river’s appeal to the growing influx of outdoor recreation-minded tourists from which the small town of Escalante has been economically benefitting.
Fortunately, after decades of steadfast work to remove Russian olive by the Escalante River Watershed Partnership, countless volunteers, and with support from RiversEdge West, Nathan has witnessed the river being brought back to life. With most of the Russian olive now removed, the banks are once again able to recede to a more natural state, allowing more spawning grounds for fish and ample opportunities for all to enjoy its natural splendor.
“It [the river] provides everything for us,” Nathan remarks. “A healthy river means a healthy business. As our watershed gets healthy and more people come out to visit it, we are seeing a small economic boom. We’re seeing businesses pop up all over. We’re helping build the watershed and build our economies here as well.”
Raise awareness about the importance of riparian health and restoration by sharing Nathan's story.
Find more stories like Nathan’s on our Riverside Stories page.
Chip Norton
“Having grown up in the desert Southwest, I feel a sense of wonder when I’m on moving water,” Chip says. “It’s all magical; the sound, the smell, and the touch. When you overlay that with the abundance of wildlife that is concentrated around desert rivers and streams, it’s heaven on earth.” After spending so much of his life in the outdoors, Chip developed a strong sense of stewardship and decided to retire as early as possible from his career with a public works construction company and dedicate his time as a conservation volunteer. He started by removing invasive tamarisk in order to improve habitat and flows in and around the Verde River in Arizona. Today, Chip owns a malt house, a vineyard, and continues to volunteer with Friends of the Verde River.
Bill Brandau
In Southeastern Arizona, Bill Brandau wears many hats: husband, father to four sons, and grandfather to eight grandchildren; owner and operator of what he affectionately refers to as “Rancho Neglecto,” his small cattle farm near the Gila River; member of the Gila Watershed Partnership; and Director for the Graham County Cooperative Extension with the University of Arizona. Through these roles, Bill has developed a deep appreciation for the Gila River and hopes that people across the West will come to better understand how the health of rivers impact them on a daily basis.
Emily Kasyon
Emily's work on the Dolores River, a tributary of the Colorado River, is helping put the 241-mile-long waterway on a healthier trajectory – one that benefits both wildlife and creates more economic opportunity for communities along its course.

RiversEdge West's

mission is to advance the restoration of riparian lands through collaboration, education, and technical assistance.