Filmmakers to show clips from Elwha documentary

Staff reportMarch 16, 2014 

Filmmakers Jessica Plumb and John Gussman will be on hand for a screening of highlights from their upcoming film on the removal of two dams on the Elwha River.

The free program will be part of an open house held by the Tacoma Mountaineers on Friday.

The pair will show about 30 minutes of highlights from their film “Return of the River” in advance of its premiere scheduled for this spring. The documentary tells the story of the largest dam removal in history on the Elwha and the community effort that made it happen.

Removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams began in 2011. When the work is complete, scheduled for September, it will open 70 miles of river habitat to all five species of Pacific salmon and steelhead. Already, spawning fish have been seen above the former Elwha Dam site.

“It is a story of a river unleashed after a century of impoundment; a story about the power of water and the power of people who love a place,” said Mountaineers member Geoffrey Lawrence.

Gussman began documenting the Elwha story consistently in early 2010, after 32 years of hiking, camping, fishing and filming the Olympic Peninsula.

“He has long felt a spiritual connection to the Elwha Valley. When dam removal was scheduled, he saw the opportunity to document this once-in-a-lifetime event and decided to focus his creative skills on witnessing the healing of this place and the people who share this land,” Lawrence said.

A producer and writer, Plumb moved to the Olympic Peninsula a decade ago, after starting her career in Boston and Beijing. Jessica directs a video production company and has produced numerous educational and promotional videos for clients. She also has worked as editor and behind the camera on documentary, and has created award-winning short films best described as video poetry.

The program will begin at 7:45 p.m. Preceding it at 7 p.m. will be an orientation show of the programs and courses offered by the Tacoma Mountaineers. Among the activities the group does are climbing and scrambling, sea kayaking, skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, family activities, sailing and avalanche training.

The event will be at The Mountaineers Tacoma Program Center, 2302 N. 30th St., Tacoma.

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