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Films to focus on restoration, dam removal

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Greg Baartz-Bowman wants people to realize that on this planet we live in “one enormous watershed,” and the best way to guarantee the good health of that is to start restoring our local watersheds.

“All our local creeks flow into the Willamette,” he said, “so we have to start here.”

Photo Credit: MARK GAMBA  - Greg Baartz-Bowman and Mark Gamba don't let a little bit of fog stop them as they set off down the Willamette River from under the Hawthorne Bridge. His interest in local watersheds spurred Baartz-Bowman to put together the first Milwaukie Watershed Film Event in 2012, and now he is looking forward to the fourth-annual festival, taking place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, at Milwaukie’s Masonic Lodge.

The two movies on the bill at the watershed film event are “Crystal Clear,” a short film by Baartz-Bowman and Milwaukie City Councilor Mark Gamba, and “DamNation,” a feature-length film tracking dam removal in Washington, Oregon and Maine.

Photo Credit: LATER.   
PHOTO COURTESY OF MIKAL JAKUBAL - In a still from DamNation, a painted crack and message on Glines Canyon Dam, on the Elwa River in Washington, foreshadowed its removal over two decades Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette, who represents District 2, will host the event. Featured speakers after the films are shown include Robin Jenkinson, restoration coordinator, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, and Chris Runyard, environmental activist and North Clackamas Urban Watersheds Council board member.

Runyard will speak about the Free Celilo Falls awareness campaign, designed to remind everyone that Celilo Falls still exists under the pool behind The Dalles Dam.

“Celilo Falls is the longest continuously inhabited place on the continent. It was a gathering place for the people of the region for 10,000 to 15,000 years. It is currently flooded by a dam that may not be worth what was lost. We believe it is time to have a discussion of what is still there and should we think about bringing it back,” he said.

Gamba also will speak, and Baartz-Bowman said Gamba hopes to be able to share important news about the Kellogg Dam at the event.

Crystal Clear’

“Crystal Clear” will lead off the series. It depicts the restoration of Crystal Springs Creek, which flows through the Sellwood and Moreland neighborhoods, including nearby Reed College.

Jenkinson will introduce “Crystal Clear” in the context of restoration in Johnson Creek and the work so many partners and volunteers are doing to improve the water quality and health of the wildlife and habitat in this watershed, she said.

She added, “Mark and Greg's film is timely because it highlights one example of a successful large pond removal for salmon-habitat enhancement, namely the stream-restoration work that is taking place in Westmoreland Park. Part of the success of this project is how the neighbors and park users have embraced the changes. Sharing this example may encourage others to invest in similar stream and park enhancements.”

The city of Portland was mandated to replace nine culverts along Crystal Springs Creek to aid in fish passage, Baartz-Bowman said.

“Culverts throw a creek out of balance because they narrow the creek, and the increased velocity is not good for fish. Since they’ve made the culverts wider, we’ve had spawning salmon in Crystal Springs Creek — there is even underwater video to prove it,” he said.

At present, seven of the nine culverts have been replaced; the final two, located near the fire station at Bybee Boulevard and Southeast Glenwood Street, should be replaced this year.

Although “Crystal Clear” is specifically about Crystal Springs Creek, the film begins with a shot on the Willamette River, near the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, because Baartz-Bowman and Gamba wanted to show the “connectedness” between the river and its streams.

Photo Credit:  PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT STOECKER - A still photo from DamNation shows Iron Gate, the most downstream of four controversial dams strangling the Klamath River.The whole idea of the film series, he said, is to bring awareness to the plight of the local watersheds, especially to the removal of Kellogg Dam.

Plenty of restoration work has been done at Klein Point, the mouth of Johnson Creek in Milwaukie, “while 300 yards away are the degraded Mt. Scott and Kellogg creeks. That is the most impacted watershed around, because of Kellogg Dam and the toxicity behind the dam,” Baartz-Bowman said.

As yet there has been no resolution on removing the dam, and Baartz-Bowman said he will keep showing films focusing on dam removal as long as the Kellogg Dam is still in place.

Restoration work

The land at Klein Point was donated as a natural area to the city of Milwaukie in 2003, by the Klein family, Gary Edward Klein said.

“The point was phase one of the riverfront park and it was done in 2012. Now phase two is going on at the south end of the park, by the boat ramp, and that should be done in February of this year,” he said.

Klein added, “If the watershed is healthy, then things around it and within it are healthy, too. This park issue is more than just restoration work, it will be a regional park for people to use and enjoy.”

Another part of the restoration of Crystal Springs Creek involves work in Reed Canyon, near Reed College.

Zac Perry, canyon restoration manager, has been working for the college actively restoring the headwaters of Crystal Springs Creek since 1999, when he oversaw the removal of a concrete, chlorinated swimming pool that was built into the stream channel in 1929.

Before it was removed, the creek was diverted around the pool through a 230-foot pipe, and “obstructions such as these prevented clear passage from the clean, cold headwaters of Crystal Springs to the Pacific Ocean,” severely limiting the successful spawning of migratory salmon, he said.

Perry added, “The college has entrusted me with removing decades of weed infestation without the use of chemicals. Essentially, I have been restoring the streambanks to improve fish habitat, while making it more attractive for insects and amphibians.”

DamNation

This hour-and-a-half movie was a very personal film for Patagonia founder and the film’s executive producer Yvon Chouinard, who partly financed the film; co-director and editor Ben Knight; co-director Travis Rummel; and Matt Stoecker, producer and director of underwater photography, Baartz-Bowman said.

The filmmakers have petitioned President Obama to “crack down on deadbeat dams,” and they have an online petition at change.org, asking for people to support dam removal.

“DamNation” follows dam removal stories on the Elwa and White Salmon rivers on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, the Rogue River in Oregon and the Penobscot River in Maine.

The press kit for the movie describes how the film charts the change in public perception about dams over the past 50 years, when people first thought dams were good, to the present day, when obsolete dams are being removed to facilitate healthier watersheds and renew spawning grounds for fish.

Changing opinions

“Part of doing this event is for people to see that Kellogg Dam needs to be removed. Our local watershed and its health is what this event is about,” Baartz-Bowman said.

He has seen the audience evolve over the four years he has been showing films at the watershed event.

“We first showed films central to Milwaukie and Oregon, but now I have seen the reaction that folks give to the films, and they are willing to reach beyond Milwaukie’s borders to see what is happening out there, and bring it home,” Baartz-Bowman said.

“This is always a great event. Clean, salmon-filled rivers, healthy, abundant wildlife, and thriving, successful people are what the Northwest has always been about. We must take great care to protect and enhance it,” environmental activist Runyard said.

“This helps tell the story of what Milwaukie means; something like, ‘land by or with many waters,’ I believe, in Indian native tongue. And we would not be here if it were not for all the springs, creeks and rivers in the Milwaukie area. Keeping this pristine is a very good thing for all people and citizens in the area; it is a spiritual recharge,” Klein said.

Baartz-Bowman added, “It’s about having a healthy watershed where salmon come into play. As former Gov. Tom McCall said, ‘If salmon are in your local stream, you have a healthy watershed.’”

Watch the watershed

What: Fourth annual Milwaukie Watershed Film Event

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17; doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Masonic Lodge, 10636 S.E. Main St., in Milwaukie

Tickets: Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at milwaukiefilmseries.org.

Next up: March 21, Bike Milwaukie Film Night; and April 25, Festival of Short Films

More: Visit damnationfilm.com for more information on “DamNation.” Visit portlandoregon.gov/bes/66158 to see the video of wild salmon spawning in Crystal Springs Creek. Learn more about Crystal Springs Creek restoration at crystalspringspdx.org.