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Ice Age Floods of Alternatives and Environmental Assessment

Jones and Jones Architects and Landscape Architects: James L. Sipes, ASLA, Reed Jarvis, Keith Larson, Anita Hardy, Mark Ellis Walker

James L. Sipes, ASLA
Senior Associate, Jones and Jones Architects and Landscape Architects
105 South Main Street
Seattle, WA 98104
Tel. 206-624-5702;

Project Location

A 16,000 square mile area that includes parts of Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon

Project Purpose

In the spring of 1999, the National Park Service, under their Special Resource Study Program, funded a two-year study to develop concepts for coordination, interpretation and educational programs about the Ice Age Floods. The project was initiated because of public demand to know more about the Floods story, which dates back thousands of years. During the last great ice age, an ice sheet crept south into the Idaho Panhandle, blocked the mouth of the Clark Fork River and created the massive, 2000-foot-deep Glacial Lake Missoula. Stretching for more than 200 miles across western Montana, it contained more water than Lakes Erie and Ontario combined. Upon reaching its maximum depth, the water burst through the ice dam and shot out at a rate 10 times the combined flow of all the rivers of the world. Over hundreds of years, the flood cycle was repeated dozens of times, each leaving a lasting mark on the landscape. The Ice Age Floods Study of Alternatives has been presented to the Secretary of the Interior for transmittal to Congress. The Study recommends the creation of the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, which would be the first designation of this kind.

Role of the Landscape Architects

Landscape Architects defined the scope of work, developed the methodology and timeline for the project; conducted an extensive inventory of Floods features; built a database of Floods materials; prioritized Floods resources; conducted public workshops across four states; built public and private partnerships; conducted an extensive public relations campaign; developed concepts for coordination, interpretation, and educational programs; examined alternative frameworks for cooperation among agencies, and wrote the final report for the Study. According to an independent non-profit organization, public demand for this project was due in large part to a series of Floods videos developed by the project landscape architects.

Special Factors

The Ice Age Floods Region is comprised of public, tribal, and private land, and it was critical that all three groups be actively involved in the study process. Trying to build a sense of community over an area this large, with so

many different groups, required a comprehensive approach to planning and communication. Some of the innovative communication techniques and approaches used in the Floods project include: a 28-minute video of the Floods story developed with a PBS affiliate; a 6-minute Floods video to distribute to public and private organizations; a brochure (10,000 copies) that tells the story of the floods on one side, and outlines the Study process on the other; a media kit developed and distributed to newspapers and magazines; newsletters and progress reports; a project web site that includes text, schedule, still images, maps and streaming video; educational posters (10,000 copies) developed cooperatively with several agencies and school districts; a series of public meetings across the four-state region; a public review draft of the Study, which was submitted to more than 1,000 reviewers and was also available on-line; and the Final Report, which is available from NPS. The Floods video, which has been aired nationally on PBS's Nova, received a 2000 Telly Award. The Telly is a national award that recognizes outstanding non-network and cable commercials as well as film and video productions; there were more than 11,000 entries.


With this project, landscape architects have an opportunity to influence how an entire generation thinks of the landscape and natural resources in the Northwest as well as their understanding of land stewardship and conservation, and even their perceptions about the profession of landscape architects. Information on the Floods project has been published in newspapers and magazines, televised, presented in schools and at major conferences, and discussed in town halls, office buildings, restaurants, and capitol buildings across four states. With national designation, the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail will receive national and international recognition, and the story of how landscape architects helped develop this unique and intriguing project will be told time and again.

Judging Criteria

The Ice Age Floods Alternatives study and the series of projects that lead up to its creation exemplifies what can happen when landscape architects take a leadership role and create a niche where none existed before. The scale and complexity of the project required a comprehensive, innovative approach to planning and communication. This project is truly one-of-a kind.

2001 Award Winners
Press Release
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