Nobody’s River

20130302-133536.jpgAs the 3rd longest free-flowing river in the world the Amur in China is a shining example of what the world stands to lose if we continue the practice of building dams. In 2013 an expedition of four women aims to paddle this ancient waterway across three countries from source to sea and illustrate the rich environmental legacy that might disappear should we fail to claim for preservation this relatively unknown river.

After more than a century of the industrial era humanity has managed to dam most of the world’s great rivers. Used as a means to generate power or divert their flow for agricultural irrigation dams have succeeded in compromising the ecological integrity of massive watersheds throughout the planet. With the migration patterns of their fish and wildlife forever disrupted the true biodiversity of these rivers will never be restored. And for those few whose courses remain unchanged like the Amur there is a compelling need to explore these rivers in the hopes that they might be protected.

The Nobody’s River Expedition will follow the Amur, also called the Heilong, as it flows from Mongolia along the border between Russia and China. The team will document their journey of more than 4,000 kilometers with photographs by Krystal Wright and environmental data collected by watershed restoration ecologist Sabra Purdy. Led by Amber Valenti along with pro paddling guide Becca Dennis the NBR crew will be followed by award-winning adventure film producer and director Skip Armstrong. A documentary on the project should be set for release by fall 2013.

“Storytelling is a job I love. And I do love stories with ingredients like 4 wild women, far away lands, wild rivers and a whole lot of logistical question marks,” Armstrong said. “I’m honored that I’ll help craft this story into a film when these ladies return later this summer.”

The Amur-Heilong watershed represents one of the last pristine river ecosystems on the planet. With a rich assortment of species the 380-million acre region is home to 2800 plants and 500 different animals. Relatively untouched by man this passageway from the Khan Khentii wilderness near the sacred mountain Burkan Khaldun to the Sea of Okhotsk offers an incredible adventure opportunity that is becoming more rare everyday

“As much as I have traveled and paddled across the globe, I have never experienced a large free-flowing river,” said team leader Amber Valenit. “They are endangered species in the modern world. But we still have an opportunity that our children may not–to experience these unique watersheds first hand.”

You can learn more about the Nobody’s River Expedition online. Visit

The Joy Trip Project is proud to support Nobody’s River Expedition and Film Project via

The Joy Trip Project is made possible with the support sponsors Patagonia, Rayovac and the New Belgium Brewing Company


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I'm a freelance journalist that specializes in telling stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living.

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