DamNation Update: The Momentum of River Restoration

The Mountainfilm Commitment Grant was created to help ensure that important stories are not only told, but also heard. What follows is an update from Ben Knight, one of the recipients of a 2011 grant.

Ninety-nine years after Olympic National Park’s Elwha River was illegally dammed, wild Chinook salmon still instinctively gather at the foot of the lower dam as if they sense a change in the current. Upstream, the usual low rumble of antique turbines generating electricity has faded, and the piercing sound of an excavator-mounted jackhammer reverberates off the 210-foot-tall Glines Canyon Dam. De-construction crews have begun the painstaking process of chipping away at its mossy, con-caved facade. This moment marks the beginning of the largest dam removal in U.S. history, unveiling the best opportunity for wild salmon recovery in the country.

Blue Mind: Does the Ocean Impact Our Brains Neurologically?

Have you ever noticed that catching a whiff of the ocean makes you feel differently? Wallace J. Nichols, a research assistant at the California Academy of Sciences and co-founder of Ocean Revolution, calls this reaction “Blue Mind.” He says, “When we think of the ocean — or hear the ocean, or see the ocean, or get in the ocean, even taste and smell the ocean, or all of those things at once — we feel something different than before that happened. For most people, it's generally good. It often makes us more open or contemplative. For many people, it reduces stress. And that's "Blue Mind."

So what’s Blue Mind got to do with anything? Nichols thinks it’s got a lot to do with how humans interact with the sea. OnEarth’s Jeff Greenwald learned more in a recent interview with Nichols.

Inspiring Sustainability: Check Out This Living Bridge In Meghalaya, India

This lovely short piece is about a Living Bridge in Meghalaya, India. Don't know what a "living bridge" is? Then, check this out.

Sustainability is a concept with many meanings. To designers and architects it means one thing, to economists another, to businessmen something else, and to an ecologist completely something else. Even with diversity of definitions, sustainability comes down to practical elements and a time-line to sustain a process, a structure, an environment, or a business over a long period. To the people of Meghalaya State in northeast India, sustainability means something essential, generational in time, and amazing.

Look twice: The Scissors on this California Dam are Real

Activists are making all kinds of statements these days. Some artists and athletes made this one on the Matilija Dam near Ojai, California. The dam is scheduled to come down at some point, but the demolition plan is unclear, and this action will surely prompt closer attention.

Peter McBride's Colorado River

Right in our own backyard, the Colorado River is the focus of a stunning piece of work from photographer Peter McBride. The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict book was released last fall, and now we're welcoming the film version of the project, Chasing Water, to this year's festival.

The project took McBride three years, documenting the river by land and by air.

Outside Magazine has an exclusive interview with McBride where he shares more about the project and what his hopes are for his work:

I think my most objective goal is to create a conversation. I'm not a water lawyer. I'm not a water engineer. I don't consider myself an expert. I'm just a curious person that followed a beautiful river. The goal for me would just be awareness—to get peple to stop and go, Wow, Really? I didn't know the river stopped. How did this happen? Let's fix this.