Return of the River – A homerun of a movie for Gussman and Plumb

Just got out of the world premiere of  ‘Return of the River”, the film that likely will be considered the definitive work on the Elwha Dam removal.  This film, years in the making, was a labor of love for the two Peninsula based filmmakers, John Gussman and Jessica Plumb. And it was great to see it premiered here at the Port Townsend Film Festival.

The film tracks in detail the history of the dam, but more importantly the place that is the Elwha River, the feel for the Olympic Peninsula then and now, and a great depth of interviews with people that were instrumental, on both sides of the controversial project.  It is impossible not to come away impressed with the idea that hard things to do take a long time, and a lot of consensus building. From the interviews with leading politicians, mill managers, environmentalists, writers, biologists, and most importantly, the tribal members of the Lower Elwha Tribe, who never gave up hope to bring back the historic runs. There were so many people who played significant small roles in this drama. Gussman and Plumb treated all with the respect they deserve. There are no demeaning ‘heroes and villains’ caricatures.

It is almost trite to say that certain stories are ‘epic’ and ‘pivotal’ but the removal of the Elwha Dam has been just that. It has galvanized world attention more than almost any other single environmental event of the last ten years, because it is a message of hope. Hope that we can restore what we have destroyed. Gussman and Plumb have captured that story, distilled it to 70 minutes, and given fair treatment to all sides, and points of view. More than ever, we need stories of hope in the face of ever mounting environmental problems to solve.

In the last week, I’ve posted the story that bull trout have been seen in the upper Elwha for the first time in a century. Also that the shores of the Elwha estuary are turning back into a clam bed capable  sand spit. The power of restoration is an amazing thing to watch.  The restoration of this river, with it’s unique short run from sea to protected park, is possible, and is happening, right now, in front of our eyes for just taking the time to go look.

Gussman and Plumb, along with the rest of their crew, have given us the story, in all it’s facets. A well crafted storyline, beautiful filmmaking, solid editing, a wonderful original soundtrack, animation when needed of the hard concepts.

Congratulations for a remarkable piece of work. A 5 star must see film.

EVENT: Premiere of “Return of the River” on the Elwha Dam Removal

My friend and fellow filmmaker John Gussman has completed his epic film on the removal of the Elwha dam. Come see his film in Port Townsend

Friday, 6:30 p.m., Rose Theatre
Saturday, 12:15 p.m., Peter Simpson Free Cinema

“Return of the River” is a feature documentary that tells the story of the largest dam removal and river restoration project in history, currently unfolding on the Elwha River in Washington State. The film explores an extraordinary community effort to set the river free, and shows an unlikely victory for environmental justice. Told by an ensemble cast of characters, “Return of the River” offers hope amid grim environmental news.

Find us on facebook at facebook.com/ReturnOfTheRiver

Update on the Elwha Dam Removal – PDN

Report on the river now that the final dam has been blasted away. Still some cleanup but the end is in sight. 

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140828/NEWS/308289985/now-that-the-dam-is-gone-debris-lingers-on-the-newly-freed-elwha

Freed Elwha River’s water level falling enough to allow dam removal to finish – PDN

Final bits to be removed this summer.

The Elwha River is finally beginning to cooperate with efforts to remove the last bit of dam blocking it. The volume of flow has lowered enough to allow crews with National Park Service contractor Barnard Construction Co. Inc. to restart work — perhaps as early as next week — to take down the final remnant of Glines Canyon Dam 8 miles from the mouth of the Elwha River. Jeremy Schwartz reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Read the rest of the story at:

 http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140807/NEWS/308079991/freed-elwha-rivers-water-level-falling-enough-to-allow-dam-removal

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As dams fall, rapid changes on Elwha River – Houston Chronicle

Good short article about changes on the Elwha.

http://www.chron.com/news/science/article/As-dams-fall-rapid-changes-on-Elwha-River-5601507.php

An undammed Elwha River building beaches again: Crab found where it once was too rocky – PDN

Good news for the Elwha restoration…

During a recent survey of sediment that flowed down the Elwha River and accrued along a beach to the east of the river mouth, Ian Miller found something he had not yet seen during his surveys. Miller, a coastal hazards specialist with Washington Sea Grant, came across a Dungeness crab that had tucked itself into fine-grain sand onto the lowest portion of a beach east of the river mouth, just north of where Sampson Road on the Lower Elwha Klallam reservation ends. Jeremy Schwartz reports.

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131014/NEWS/310149994/an-undammed-elwha-river-building-beaches-again-crab-found-where-it

More Elwha Dam Removed – PDN

A huge piece of Glines Canyon Dam was blasted away late Saturday as dam removal on the Elwha River resumed. Explosive charges set by demolition crews removed almost the entire eastern third of the remaining 60 feet of concrete dam, webcam photos show. But water did not immediately flow through the new gap because of tons of sediment behind the dam as well as rubble from the explosion that created temporary blockage between the current river channel and the new hole. With a section of the former 210-foot dam removed nearly to the original riverbed, workers will clear a passable fish channel on the floor of the river canyon before stopping work in November for the next fish window, according to Brian Krohmer, dam removal project manager.

Arwyn Rice reports. Glines Canyon Dam doesn’t look much like a dam anymore http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131007/NEWS/310079998/glines-canyon-dam-doesnt-look-much-like-a-dam-anymore

See also: Chinook salmon returning to dam-less Elwha River http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131007/news/310079992/0/SEARCH/chinook-salmon-returning-to-dam-less-elwha-river

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