Eric Hertz founded Earth River Expeditions in 1988 on a number of core principles; operating the safest, finest trips possible, discovering new incredible places to take our guest, hiring local people from the areas we visit, working with local communities to protect river resources where we run trips as well as helping to protect areas we don’t visit when we feel our knowledge and experience can make a difference.
The company has volunteered our time and resources over the past 23 years to protect irreplaceable river resources around the world running dozens of conservation awareness trips with media, policy makers and celebrities. We also spearheaded efforts to protect Patagonia from water borne invasive species and founded the first outfitter initiated land trust. This work has been funded using the profits from our commercial river trips and in some cases even running special expeditions, to raise money for conservation work.
The brief time line below outlines our hands on river conservation work. More in depth accounts of a number of these projects can be found on the web site library.
- March 1990: Organized and ran conservation awareness expedition on threatened Bio Bio River (Threatened by dams) in Chile with Natural Resources Defense Council. With 50 participants, including the chief of the native Puenche Indians, it was the largest, class 5, multi-day expedition ever run. READ NRDC Newsletter (Bio Bio trip).
- Feb. 1991: Organized and Ran conservation awareness expedition on Chile’s Bio Bio River with Chilean actors and artists. READ Catherine Bragg letter (Grupo de Accion por el Bio Bio).
- May - June 1991: Scouted 7 major rivers in Quebec looking for a suitable stretch to run environmental awareness trips on to expose politicians and the media to the threat from the James Bay II project which if built would be the largest hydro-electric project in the world flooding over 2,000 square miles. After two weeks of flying over a thousand miles of threatened waterways a section of the Great Whale River was chosen to run conservation awareness trips on. READ Cree Chief Robby Dick letter, (Great Whale conservation trips).
- Aug. 1991 - Aug. 1993: Organized, sponsored and ran eight conservation awareness trips over three summers on the threatened Great Whale River in James Bay, Quebec. Participants included; The Natural Resources Defense Council, National Audubon society, members of the Cree First Nation including the Grand Cief, National Geographic Magazine (yellow), Conde Nast Traveler, Turner Broadcasting, Nicolodian Television and politicians from New York and New England which were negotiating to purchase James Bay power which would have dammed and dewatered 7 major rivers and flooded an area the size of France. Also, began training Cree youth, taking six of them on an expedition down the Magpie river, so they could start running their own expeditions. READ Luis Eguren, Coordinator Whapmagoostui Band of Cree First Nation, letter (Great Whale Conservation trips).
- Oct. 1992: Earth River, Great Whale River conservation awareness participants, Senator Franz Leichter and Assemblyman William Hoyt hold Legislative hearings in New York against buying power from the James Bay Project. Assemblyman Hoyt proposes legislation in New York legislature to stop the project. Later that year New York withdraws from their 5 billion dollar contract to buy power sending a near fatal blow to the project. (Note: In 1994, The James Bay II Project is suspended indefinitely.) READ NY Senator Franz Lichter letter.
- Nov. 1993 - Current: Earth River starts the Earth River Trust on Patagonia Chile’s Futaleufu to ensure the Futaleufu would not meet the same destructive fate as the Bio Bio River to the north which was dewatered and damed. Working with clients the trust has purchased and protected over 12 miles (22 parcels) of some of the most important and easily developed property along the Futaleufu. READ Ronald G. Dodson, President Audubon International, letter.
- July 1995: Scouted two river systems in Labrador by air and ran one expedition looking for place to bring media rafting to bring awareness to the Nato jet fly overs that were breaking the sound Barrier directly over Innu Native hunting camps and literally driving them from the bush and their cultural heritage. READ excerpt from Cultural Survival Magazine.
- June 1997: Spent a week looking for a suitable river for the Ouj-Bougoumou Cree, an Indian community Northern Quebec that’s had many past hardships, to run eco-tourism trips for income on. READ Cree Chief Bosum, Ouj-Bougoumou Cree, letter
- July 1999: Ran first descent of British Columbia’s, Filer Creek and named the Yosemite like Valley it passes through, Headwall Canyon. Previously unknown to the outside world, the 12 mile, virgin old growth canyon contains over half a dozen of North America's highest waterfalls (up to 2,000 feet). Soon after running the trip, it was discovered that the entire Toba River watershed, which included Headwall Canyon, was threatened by clear-cut logging.
- May 2000: Organized and ran two conservation awareness trips on Newfoundland’s Main River which was threatened with clear cut logging. READ excerpt from greatcanadianrivers.com.
- July 2000: Organized and ran conservation awareness trip through Headwall Canyon threatened by clear cut logging. Expedition invitees included; actor Richard Dean Anderson, Robert Kennedy Jr, NRDC, Kathy Francis, chief of the Klahoose First Nation and National Geographic Television. READ National Geographic Headwall Canyon trailer.
- Aug. 2004: Organized and ran conservation awareness trip on Magpie River threatened by a series of dams. Participants included Canadian Media and Canadian environmental groups including the Canada branch of the Sierra Club. READ Michele Gauthier, Director, Quebec Rivieres Fondation, letter.
- March 2005: Organized and ran conservation awareness trip on Futaleufu River (threatened by dams) with celebrities, members of the Chilean business community and Chilean Senator Antonio Horvath (Head of Senate environmental committee. Helped organize press conference with trip participants in Santia go after trip which was attented by major newspapers, magazines and Chilean television.
- April - Nov. 2010: Working in conjunction with Dr. William Horvath, Earth River began a 6 month, crusade across Patagonia to educate Chilean policy makers of the threats from water borne invasive species like didymo phenia (rock snot) entering Chile and the Patgonia ecosystem. These invasives wreak havoc on rivers, streams and lakes, destroying native eco-systems and damaging fisheries and tourism. Driving thousands of miles on rough roads, through blizzards, in the dead of the Patagonia winter, they were able to convince government officials to hold a week long invasive species conference attended by high ranking Chilean politicians and scientists from around the world. Four Chileam Congressional Medal of Honorsrs were bestowed upon the scientists (including one to Dr. Horvath) from the Chilean Senate for their work at the conference and their commitment to help Chile deal with this important issue. Since the conference an extensive government funded education program was initiated beginning with giant posters at all the airports. A major study was initiated to figure out the best legal means to keep these invasives from entering the country and Patagonia. READ