The Freeflow Podcast

a media project of Freeflow Institute


The Activist: BROOKE HESS

Brooke Hess fought for the removal of dams in the Snake River Basin by kayaking the Salmon River from its source to the sea, and found a new appreciation for wild rivers along the way


“It’s all connected. You hear that, but it’s so different when you actually experience it.”

As a professional kayaker, Brooke Hess’s life revolves around wild rivers. But in recent years she’s become increasingly concerned about threats to river ecosystems – like the dams on the lower Snake River. She knew she had to do something to encourage more people to advocate for the removal of those dams. That’s why, in April 2022, she and three other women set out on the trip of a lifetime: kayaking the Salmon River from its headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. 

 In 2019, Brooke received an American Whitewater Scholarship to come on a Freeflow course on the Main Salmon River in Idaho. The Grand Salmon Source-to-Sea Expedition was born of a love for salmon (the fish), rivers, science, and community.

Go deeper into the story:


Thanks to American Whitewater for helping support Brooke on her Freeflow course in 2019; to our friends at NRS for sponsoring the source-to-sea expedition; and to everyone who is fighting for the removal of the four lower Snake River dams.

Our theme music is by Nate Heygi and Wartime Blues.

Stephanie Maltarich and Mary Auld produced this episode.

The Podcast is made possible by support from The Prop Foundation.

Stephanie Maltarich, a producer at The Freeflow Podcast,is an independent audio producer and writer based in Gunnison, Colorado. She loves a good story that allows her to explore issues related to the environment, the outdoors, and social justice. Her public radio stories have aired on NPR’s Weekend Edition, Here and Now, Colorado Public Radio, Alaska Public Media, and more. She’s also produced podcasts for outlets like The Dirtbag Diaries, Climate One, Out There, and Duolingo. Prior to working as a storyteller and journalist, Steph’s work included a slew of interesting jobs: a commercial fisher(wo)man, adaptive ski instructor, Outward Bound instructor, international trip leader, English teacher, and hand-washing spy. 

Mary Auld (she/her) is an audio journalist and teacher in Missoula. She grew up in the boreal forests in Interior Alaska and the hay fields of upstate New York. Her favorite projects use sound to tell intimate stories about the human experience of environmental issues. Mary’s work has been featured on public radio stations and podcasts around the West. She has a master’s in environmental journalism from the University of Montana. You can find more of her work at

The Freeflow Podcast is made with love in Montana, near the storied Blackfoot River.

Arlo, on the banks of the Blackfoot, during the summer months when weathered sticks, sunshine, and warm, flat rocks define his days.

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