The Riverview Project: Episode 4

Introducing our fourth and final Riverview Project episode with KEEN Ambassador Kristian Gustavson of Below the Surface. Find out what’s next for Kristian and his crew and what you can do to help in our interview with him below. There are plenty of rivers out there that need to be mapped, and Below the Surface is just getting started.

KEEN: What will it take to make The Riverview Project a success?

KRISTIAN: At the end of the day, I just want to surf and not worry about getting sick; I want to swim without stepping on broken glass; I want grill up fish I caught without thinking about mercury or other heavy metal poisoning. These are simple things to ask for, but I think it’s something we can all appreciate. I know it’s something all of us can work towards.

We have a lot of rivers we want to map in the United States and once we can hit a critical mass of 20-30 major waterways, then we can say we’re on our way to success. Integrating these panoramic images with existing waterway data, especially real-time, and the data we collect will be another step toward success. Beyond that, engaging a larger network and distributing some of the workload to outfitters, guides, researchers, and the public will also feel confident that we’re getting somewhere. We’ll really know success when, as the late, great Pete Seeger said, “When the river runs clear!”

KEEN: What’s next for you?

KRISTIAN: We are building out steps to achieve the various indicators of success I mentioned, but the real next step is getting back on the water. Since we’ve been on the Sacramento River, we’ve been able to streamline things a bit so to speak. We have some partners across the country who will be helping us roll Riverview out across the map! Our team has also been getting creative and working to integrate equipment into a more compact package. Technology should be a benefit, not a burden, so we don’t want to limit ourselves in any way to which waterways we can cover. So far, so good!

KEEN: How can someone get involved if they want to help?

KRISTIAN: Contact us! If you’re serious and really want to put some miles on the map, let’s do this! It’s costly both time and otherwise to plan, coordinate, and execute these expeditions so if you have an ongoing project, paddle, or expedition that we can jump in on, let us know. If there’s a waterway of interest and you would like to help make it part of Riverview, then we’re open to that, too. We can mount our imaging and other research equipment on pretty much any vessel. Our team is capable and can move quickly if the right pieces are in place.

We also have a mobile app that we’re revamping, so keep an eye out. The purpose of it is to crowdsource waterway information and quantify it to help steer public policy. We’re always looking for new tech partners and developers, too! The imaging and research we’re doing has created an amazing network across the country, but we want to keep it growing while implementing solutions upstream and down!

You can get in-touch with us at belowthesurface.org and stay tuned with our efforts via social media. If ya see us on the water, we’d be happy to grab a brew, too!

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.