Guest opinion: Conservation a focus of Wild & Scenic Film fest |

Guest opinion: Conservation a focus of Wild & Scenic Film fest

The third annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival, a signature event and fundraiser of the Middle Colorado Watershed Council (MCWC), will take place at two venues this month: Glenwood Vaudeville Theater on Feb. 22, and Rifle’s Ute Theater on Feb. 23.

Considered one of the nation’s premier environmental and adventure film festivals, it combines beautiful cinematography and top-notch storytelling to inform and inspire. There are award-winning films about nature, adventure, conservation, water, wildlife, agriculture and indigenous cultures.

Here are summaries of a handful of the 11 films curated for our 2018 event:

“A Letter to Congress” ­— Wallace Stegner’s 1960 letter to Congress about the importance of wilderness is the framework for a new message, one in which our unified voice can help prevent the transfer of our most valuable heritage – our public lands – to private and corporate interests.

“Rivers Reckoning” — Paul Bruchez is a fifth-generation rancher in the headwaters of the Colorado River, where he also runs a fly-fishing guide service. In 2002, severe drought devastated the Colorado River and their ranching operations, while a simultaneous cancer diagnosis in the family challenged Paul and his younger brother Doug to grab the reins of the family business.

“Return from Desolation” — For Garrett Eaton, a remote and rugged section of the Green River called Desolation Canyon is more than a river; it is a place that brought him back from the brink to reclaim a life he almost lost. At his core, Garrett is a river guide, but his story doesn’t start here. Returning to the wild rivers and canyonlands of his youth, Garrett found true freedom. With each pull of the oars, Garrett reclaimed his faith, his sobriety and most importantly — his family.

“Dream Day” — What would it feel like to begin your day in fresh powder and end it in the briny Pacific on the perfect sunset wave? It would probably feel like a dream. Four athletes, Jeremy Jones, Hilaree O’Neil, Matt Hunter and Greg Long, set out to see if they could make that dream a reality – starting out in the Sierra backcountry then rock-climbing, cruising down Mt. Tam on mountain bikes, and capping it off with a surf at Stinson Beach. Amazing adventures are possible when you get outside and dream big.

“My Irnik” — A young father teaches his son about the value of shared adventures, exploration and his ancestral Inuit heritage.

“Running Wild” — In February of 2014, a remotely triggered camera in Utah’s rugged Uinta Mountains captured a picture of something no one thought possible in the area: A wolverine. This elusive creature hadn’t been spotted here for nearly 40 years. This one photograph set in motion a massive undertaking to discover whether the wolverines were moving in for good. Ultrarunners took to the mountains setting up and checking camera traps around the ecosystem in search of more photographic evidence. The result? A comprehensive survey of wildlife in the range and a model for citizen science projects everywhere.

“Ace and the Desert Dog” — For his 60th birthday, adventure photographer Ace Kvale and his dog, Genghis Khan, set out for a 60-day backpacking trip in Utah’s canyon country. The pair tells the story of their trek, friendship, and Genghis records it on his Desert Dawg Adventure Blawg.

Our sponsors help make the Wild & Scenic Film Festival possible. Thanks to Alpine Bank, Casey Brewing, Grand River Construction Co., Karp Neu Hanlon, Rifle Regional Economic Development Council, SGM, Sopris Realty, Bishop Plumbing & Heating, Berthod Motors, RJ Paddywacks, Roaring Fork Beer Company, Rifle Lock & Safe, Wright Water Engineers, Inc. and Mona Lisa Ladies Unique Boutique.

More information and ticket purchases here. And, to learn more about the films and the filmmakers, visit the Wild & Scenic Film Festival website.

Laurie Rink is the executive director of the Middle Colorado Watershed Council (MCWC), a nonprofit conservation organization that stewards the stretch of the Colorado River from Glenwood Canyon to De Beque, Colo., including all the tributaries that flow into it.

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