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Return of the River
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A Little River with a Big Story.

8 March 2012

Washington— Filmed by paddler, photographer, and cinematographer, John Gussman, the ACA is helping to produce Return of the River, a film about the largest dam removal project in the history of the United States. In mid-September 2011, contractors started a three-year, $351 million project to remove the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams in order to restore a free-flowing river.

"It is the story of a river unleashed after a century of impoundment, and the extraordinary community effort to set it free... It is a story about the power of water, and the power of people who love a place."

The Elwha River is the ancestral home of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, who witnessed firsthand the effects of the 108-foot high dam on the river and all life that depended upon it. Build without fish ladders, the Elwha dam, which began construction in 1910, served as completely impenetrable barrier to fish migrations. For the first time in over 100 years, due to the tireless work of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, countless activists and conservation organizations, the salmon run has been restored on the Elwha.

The dam removal project will reopen more than 70 miles of spawning and rearing habitat in the Elwha and its tributaries. Salmon populations are predicted to swell from 3,000 to nearly 400,000 with all five species of the Pacific salmon returning to the Elwha streams.

The largest watershed in Olympic National Park, the removal of the dams will not only restore ecological balance, but will also bring cultural, spiritual, and economic healing to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe as the salmon return and flooded sacred sites are restored.

"I am so excited that the American Canoe Association has provided me with this grant to help in the final production of my film," says Gussman. "It is such a great feeling to know you are not alone in the fight to help save our natural environment, and it takes many voices to make a change."

"The ACA is thrilled to be able to help John Gussman bring Return of the River to life through our Club Fostered Stewardship program! Capturing the largest dam removal project in the history of the United States and the community efforts that made it possible, Gussman’s film stands as a testament to the extraordinary power of activists on behalf of a river and should serve as a beacon of stewardship for the rest of the country,” said Cate Huxtable, ACA Stewardship Coordinator, about ACA involvement with the production of the film.

Much like advocating for the removal of the dams, it takes a group working together to achieve success! Contribute to the production ofReturn of the River by supporting its Kickstarter campaign today! The campaign ends on 1 April 2012.


Return of the River, March trailer from Jessica Plumb on Vimeo.

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