Thursday, January 22, 2015
"Dam Nation" documentary, showing glorious scenery, argues that electricity and jobs should give way to "free fish"
The documentary “Dam Nation”, directed by Ben Knight and Travis Rummel, argues for removing dams or for not building them, partly out of honoring native Americans, particularly for restoring natural spawning grounds for salmon. The scenery in this indie documentary begs for Imax 3-D in a science museum.
Nevertheless, dams provide relatively clean hydroelectric power and have provided water for agriculture in the West, even though even that is somewhat threatened by climate change and drought.
“Dams give us irrigation and jobs”, whereas “salmon gives us dinner”. So it does for bears, too. And “FDR never saw a dam that he didn’t think should be built”. Or “If I chose between birds and airplanes, I choose birds. Between fish and electricity, I choose fish.” Well, that is, “Free fish!” (May 13, 2013).
The film has an interesting sequence showing how native Americans fished on the Columbia River before dams were built.
The film considers some dams on the Snake River in Idaho as among the “worst offenders”, providing only 4% of the electricity in the area. Barging was used as justification for the dams.
A man with Parkinson’s describes his experience fishing in Oregon, in an area “threatened” by dams.
The film also visits Glen Canyon Dan, between Utah and Arizona, at the town of Page. The film discusses abandoned Chaco ruins in the area. There is some canyon scenery similar to that of “127 Hours”.
The film shows the Glines Canyon Dam in Washington State before its removal in 2014. I believe I visited the area in July 1996 during a day in Olympia National Park.
There was graffiti painted on the dam at Ojai, CA (site of a major concert, Drama blog June 17, 2014).
The official site is here. It was featured at SXSW. The film title is often listed as one word as a false pun, “DamNation”.
Wikipedia attribution link for Hoover Dam picture (photo author "Kuczora", CC-SA 3,0, unported). I visited it in December 1997, on a trip to Las Vegas. And I recall passing through Page, AZ in May 2000.
See also “Chattahoochee Unplugged”, March 30, 2014 here.