‘Wild and Scenic’ returns Nov. 9-10

This year’s Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival will feature entries from all over the U.S. and beyond, including the Philippines, El Salvador and Canada.

But the message that filmgoers should take away after watching this series is one that should be universally understood, according to Ralph Bloemers, one of the festival organizers.

“Go play outside – go get dirty and sore and a little undomesticated and remind yourself that we inhabit a glorious dynamic planet,” Bloemers said.

Bloemers works for the Crag Law Center, which supports community efforts to protect and sustain the Pacific Northwest’s natural legacy. Crag has sponsored the film festival for the last five years in Hood River, and Bloemers says he has seen examples of how the festival has inspired local environmental protection issues.

“Through the film festival, people have learned that the power of dedicated individuals can make a difference.”

He cites challenges such as development that is potentially threatening the White Salmon River and the proposal to ship coal on trains and barges through the Columbia River Gorge as examples of concern that mimic the kinds of issues presented in the Wild and Scenic Film Festival.

One of the films shown this year, “The Craziest Idea: Year of the River,” features the recent removal of the dam on the White Salmon River.

“This film was produced by Andy Maser, an experienced cameraman and a National Geographic Explorer,” Bloemers said.

Maser consulted with the Crag Law Center and other conservation organizations in producing the film. One of the Crag Law Center’s clients, Friends of the White Salmon River, is also featured in the film.

Crag currently represents the Friends in a challenge against Klickitat County for its plan to increase residential development within the White Salmon River area.

The film festival takes place on Nov. 9 and 10 at the Columbia Center for the Arts, from 6-9 p.m.

Advance tickets are available at Doug’s Sports, Waucoma Bookstore and Columbia Center for the Arts. One night of films costs $9, both nights are discounted to $15 or the films are free with a $35 donation to the Crag Law Center.

Local representatives from nonprofit organizations and businesses will be on hand to introduce some of the films.

The Crag Law Center works with its local partners and volunteers to choose films that they hope will resonate with people that live, work and play in the Columbia River Gorge. This year Crag assembled a three-person panel to watch all the films and come up with a cohesive program focusing on rivers, mountains and adventure.

“We ride our bikes because we enjoy it and because it’s a simple way we can reduce our impact on the planet. We enjoy climbing or skiing on remote backcountry peaks and kayaking and rafting down rivers because there’s an added layer of intensity and engagement with the planet that reminds us in the most fundamental way that we have a relationship with the place we call home and that we are fundamentally wild creatures,” Bloemers said.

The inspiration for the festival can be summed up by the noted environmentalist Edward Abbey, who said “Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast … a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it.”

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