Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Dam Good Film

H: June 8, 2014: A few nights ago, I joined some friends from the NYC Fly meetup group at a free screening of the Patagonia produced documentary, DamNation. It was inspiring and made me want to rappel down the side of a deadbeat dam in the cover of night with paint can and brush in hand... But I'll leave that to veteran daredevil activists like Mikal Jakubal and just write something on this blog instead ;).

Patagonia's DamNation documentary poster
DamNation is not an impartial look at the history and proliferation of dams in the U.S. (over 75,000). In fact, the history and rationale for dam construction is too quickly glossed over. Rather, it's beautifully filmed, unabashed propaganda for freeing our rivers of obsolete dams whose economic and environmental costs now outweigh any previous benefits. It advocates restoring our watersheds to their natural state, allowing salmon and steelhead to return unimpeded to their spawning grounds and vital nutrients to be dispersed throughout its ecosystem.

Watching the demolition footage of several dams, including one on the Elwah River in Washington's Olympic Peninsula, was uplifting, especially knowing the immediate impact its removal has had on rejuvenating wild fish populations.

Despite touching upon a wide range of issues and historic events—the negative impact of hatcheries and hatchery fish, the loss of Native American fishing traditions on the Columbia River, the flooding of beautiful places such as Glen Canyon in Arizona—DamNation's message is loud and clear. It's time for deadbeat environmentally damaging dams to go.

As a fly fisher who supports wild rivers and fisheries, I wholeheartedly embrace its message and urge everyone who cares about the health of our rivers to step up and take action. We need to be the guardians of the watersheds and fisheries we hold dear, yet so easily take for granted.

You can watch DamNation on demand at Vimeo, find a free screening near you, or purchase the DVD from Patagonia. I highly recommend it!p

After watching the documentary, if you, too, are inspired, go to change.org and sign this petition urging President Obama to crack down on deadbeat dams, specifically 4 dams on the lower Snake River in Washington.

DamNation. Directed by Ben Knight and Travis Rummel. Produced by Matt Stoecker and Travis Rummel. Executive Producer: Yvon Chouinard (Yvon rocks! :).

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