The watershed of the Columbia River is the largest river system in the Pacific Northwest. It spans portions of seven States as well as the Province of British Columbia. The main stem of the Columbia River (highlighted in the map below) starts in the Canadian Rockies near Invermere, BC and runs for 2000 kilometers to meet the ocean near Astoria, OR. The Snake River, the Columbia's major tributary, begins in Wyoming's Teton Range and meets the main stem near Kennewick, WA.

Humans have inhabited the Basin for at least 15,000 years. It is a place of natural bounty and was once home to the world's largest salmon runs, with as many as sixteen million fish returning each year. Today, the Basin is home to several million people and many fewer fish. It also generates more hydropower than any other watershed in North America. Together, fish, dams, and people are three key elements though which to tell the story of this place.