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April 18, 2013
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Film festival makes its annual stop in Grand Junction

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Each year the touring Wild and Scenic Film Festival showcases a number of independent films about wildlands, conservation issues and individuals who are involved in community action.This year's Grand Junction festival, "Focusing on a Climate of Change," at the Avalon Theatre will feature 10 short films, often with themes that parallel western Colorado issues.Retired Marine Corps officer and Wyoming resident Dan Smitherman will introduce the film "Too Special to Drill" produced by the Center for American Progress. Smitherman, who's also a retired outfitter, is featured in the film as a member of Citizens for the Wyoming Range, a group that has been working to protect pristine areas of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The Wyoming citizen's group convinced a Houston-based oil company to sell its leases back to the Trust for Public Lands, allowing the federal government to "retire" the leases, Smitherman said. "Without the forest, or wilderness, there is no business. People don't pay money to hunt, or go horseback riding in oil fields," Smitherman said.It's a similar situation in Carbondale, Smitherman said, where residents are seeking protection from oil and gas development on federal lands in the Thompson Divide area, including the Thompson Creek and Four Mile Creek watersheds."Our group, Citizens for the Wyoming Range, is very diverse," Smitherman said. "We're not anti-drilling. There places you should and shouldn't drill."Smitherman will introduce the film and answer questions afterward. Sponsored by Western Colorado Congress and the WCC of Mesa County, the fifth annual film festival is held to raise awareness of local issues and promote membership in the environmental organization, WCC organizer Donna Page said.Wild and Scenic films are chosen from a larger collection of documentaries from the South Yuba River Citizen's League in Nevada City, Calif. The film festival tours more than a 100 communities each year.This year's feature film, "Wild Things," is about progressive ranchers who are learning to coexist with native animals. For decades, ranchers and government trappers in the West have killed native carnivores who are seen as a threat to livestock. The United States Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program kills 100,000 coyotes, wolves and other wild animals annually, according the film festival website. "Wild Things" features scientists, conservationists as well as ranchers and former Wildlife Services trappers who want to stop the practice.The film "Sanctuary" takes place in Taos, N.M., where citizens work to restore the Carson National Forest.In another film, "The Man Who Lived on His Bike," viewers learn about a person who rides his bike for 382 days through Montreal."Potato Farmers" is part of a series that explores global climate change by interviewing farmers in the Pacific Northwest.A number of door prizes will be given out at the event, including an overnight raft trip for two on the Colorado River donated by Adventure Bound River Expeditions.

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The Post Independent Updated Apr 18, 2013 12:34PM Published Apr 18, 2013 12:20PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.