Staff Pick: The Super Salmon

The Super Salmon

Ryan Peterson | 25 min.

Tired of all the doom and gloom in the news? Have no fear, the Super Salmon is here! I think we could all use a good success story about the environment, and especially for wild salmon. Watching The Super Salmon, you will not only fall in love with these amazing, resilient creatures, but you will also admire the humans working tirelessly to protect the river and surrounding ecosystem. This short film tells the incredible story of community members in Talkeetna, AK as they band together against a $5.2-billion hydroelectric mega-dam on Alaska’s Susitna River. Proponents of the dam claim that it would not interrupt the watershed’s famous salmon runs because of its location – upstream of where fish usually swim. I guess no one told the Super Salmon, who traveled well-beyond the proposed location of the dam, facing epic adversity including a deadly-looking feature called “Devil’s Canyon” (pictured below)! With the help of the data from the Super Salmon’s journey up the Susitna along with respectful determination and pressure from the community ::SPOILER ALERT:: the state suspended the dam project indefinitely in 2016!

Image result for devils canyon susitna river

Mike Wood of the Susitna River Coalition, featured in the film, cheerfully regales audiences with the story of the Super Salmon’s adventure up the Susitna River, seen here at Devil’s Canyon.

As I’ve watched The Super Salmon several times recently, it put SYRCL‘s current campaign against a new dam into context. Seeing community members in Talkeetna, AK band together against this mega-dam in their watershed, I can’t help but feel a swelling of pride for SYRCL’s most current work, which is a grassroots campaign to mobilize the community to fight the proposed Centennial Dam on the Bear River. American Rivers recently announced their list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers and the Bear River ranked #2.

What do we stand to lose by damming up the last few free-flowing miles of this once mighty river? This environmentally and culturally damaging 275-foot dam threatens a river which is treasured by countless people who fish, paddle, swim and celebrate local Native American culture. This film helps reinforce my belief that dams should be the last alternative considered when it comes to our water future, not the first.

We could all take a page out of the Super Salmon’s book. We may not have to swim hundreds of miles upstream, dodging predators, fierce competition, and epic rapids along the way. But we have our own battles to fight. Luckily, SYRCL isn’t going anywhere and we plan to do everything in our power to protect our precious local watersheds. Wild & Scenic is here to spread to word and work of people like Mike Wood of the Susitna River Coalition and inspire communities around the world to fight for the places they love, too.

The Super Salmon was a 2017 Official Selection. It is currently in our Film Library and available to borrow if you’re an active SYRCL member. (Reach out to Alena Loomis to see if your membership is current, [email protected] or 530.265.5961 x 220). You can also check out The Super Salmon at an On Tour stop near you! Interested in helping us fight the proposed Centennial Dam? Your generous donation will help the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) oppose this dangerous proposal that threatens people’s homes, history, public land and recreation.

This month’s Staff Pick was brought to you by Festival Liaison, Jess Swigonski.