Bicyclers reach goal, raise funds for housing project


Some time back, three young men from the Midwest, who came through Walla Walla en route to the southern tip of South America, reached their multi-facted goals.

Brothers David, Nathan and Isaiah Berg kept fans and supporters updated with posts through the Bound South blog authored by Isaiah as they cycled from Alaska to Argentina.

The trio from Starkweather, N.D., wanted to do something monumentally memorable as brothers and raise funds for a project co-sponsored with Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity.

On Aug. 4 they crossed the $25,000 fundraising threshold. Build day with Habitat started Thursday. They appreciate those who made their dream a reality.

“We are so thankful for the outpouring of support that we have received since stepping off the airplane from Buenos Aires.

“Hard to believe we’re home,” 2011 Dartmouth College alum Isaiah wrote of the nine-month 15,000-mile journey.

“To be honest, we’re all a little worn out and looking for a few days of time off with family. Our sister’s graduation day was a special time for us to be home.”

“The three of us have reunited with family and friends in North Dakota. Daily showers, home-cooked food, fast cars and comfy clothes are just a few of the wonders of life that we are growing re-accustomed to.

They’ve been hard at work on the family’s North Dakota farm, “praying for rain and driving tractors as we fly through the growing season.

“The steady rhythm of farming, the planting and growth that leads so inevitably to harvest, is a life apart from the wild unpredictability of a day-by-bicycle. One is rooted, the other nomadic. For a summer, at least after so many months on the road, rooted is a good thing.

“That all of those many miles and faces of the Americas would lead to a physical home for a family in need is truly humbling and inspiring. We are so proud and thankful for the good that will be done through the generosity of so many family and friends.”

What’s next for the trio? Youngest brother David plans to attend Dartmouth in New Hampshire. Eldest brother Nathan, a graduate of North Dakota State University with a music education degree specializing in choral music, will leave the farm to begin his own career. Middle brother Isaiah will attend the U.S. Marine Corps Officer’s Candidate School in Virginia.

“The three of us will probably never experience this kind of an opportunity again, with all of us together, in the same place, chasing the same dream. It was a beautiful thing to share as brothers, and it will be equally beautiful to recall and recount in the years to come. We’re going to make for some mighty fun uncles someday,” Isaiah blogged.

Representing a variety of entities, the official ground breaking for the construction of a new irrigation water diversion structure on the Walla Walla River was well attended July 19, according to Larry L. Hooker, agricultural projects coordinator with project sponsor Walla Walla County Conservation District.

The new structure will serve the Old Lowden and Bergevin-Williams ditch groups. It was built immediately upstream of the Lowden II-Garden City diversion fish screen on the south side of the river.

Celebrants among those at the event were stakeholders representing Bonneville Power Administration, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Bergevin-Williams and Old Lowden Ditch groups, Walla Walla Watershed Management Partnership, Walla Walla County Commission and Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife.

They were joined by field representatives from several legislators. “The project serves to showcase what can be accomplished through the cooperative and collaborative workings of private sectors and agencies, both state and federal,” Larry said in a release.

The project took more than four years of planning, developing designs and overcoming problems. It will help restore salmon and steelhead runs in the Walla Walla basin. Cooperation and working towards a common goal made it happen.

Funding from Bonneville Power Administration through the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation for the design and construction of the consolidated diversion structure made the project possible.

“What will be the benefits of this $3.1 million dollar project? Some jump right out like the 4.5 cubic feet per second of water saved through improved conveyance efficiency that will be put into Wash. Department of Ecology’s water trust program,” Larry said.

“Farmers using the system will be able to better manage their water while at the same time achieving regulatory certainty that will protect their water rights.

“Irrigators at the far end of the delivery system will have their water delivered through pipelines that eliminate seepage losses and blockages due to weeds and debris. The provisions of Walla Walla County’s Instream Flow Rule will have been met. When completed, the final result will be that both fish and farmers win as a result of the construction of this consolidated diversion and piped delivery system.

“No longer will gravel push-up dams block fish passage. Water that once had to travel through an open inefficient ditch system will be delivered through an 8.8 mile piped system with 27 mainline take-outs and over 30 new pumping stations and flood outlets that will serve 1,816.5 acres.

“An estimated 2,404 acre-feet of water will be saved into trust.”

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at or afternoons at 526-8313.


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