Saturday, October 13, 2007

Oregon -- from High Desert to Rocky Coast

Busy, Busy, Busy...

Lots of great things have been happening since I last wrote...

done two television interviews, visited some quaint little towns, seen some snow-capped mountains, hiked through logged forests, and toured the rocky Oregon coast. Along the way, I've taken pictures of covered bridges, shipwrecks, sand dunes, and abandoned towns. I've talked with local fishermen and loggers, rangers at the Forestry Service, biologists at the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, and even some fans who saw me on the news and stopped by to say Hi. It's been a very busy week.

My most recent interview was with KEZI, Eugene's ABC affiliate based in Coos Bay. Here's what they had to say about Vanishing America...
I'm only in Oregon for about two weeks, so I've been incredibly busy shooting, editing, and trying to cover as much of the state as I can before I have to go back to Redding. And, there are definitely some places I'd like to go back to (and some people I'd like to see again). While in the small coastal town of Yachats, I shared some stories, laughs, and wine with my new friends, Tim, Pam, and their cat Daisy. They're living the life in a beautiful silver Airstream -- the very trailer I'd originally envisioned taking this trip in.

But, since
I don't have the Land Rover with me yet, I had to pass on visiting some of the small towns, tiny fishing villages, back roads and trails because the RV is just too big. In addition, I'm so pushed for time, I could only spend a few hours (or a day, at most) in any particular location. And, the longer I stayed, the more I learned, and the more I wanted to see. There is definitely another, longer, trip to Oregon in my near future.

As I mentioned before, I've met a lot of folks on this trip. And, not only are people interested in my project, they are friendly and willing to help out. While I was in Coos Bay/
Charleston, on the southern Oregon coast, my friend Scott Groth, who works for the Fish and Wildlife Department, took me around the bay and gave me the low-down on future development and endangered species. We even went out to look at a shipwreck on the beach. According to records, the freighter New Carissa ran aground in 1999. Before it could be salvaged, it was beached even further by severe storms. After the storms subsided, the Coast Guard attempted to minimize damage to the coast by setting fire to the ship to burn off all the oil and fuel that was leaking out. Unfortunately, the burn caused severe damage to the hull and the ship broke in two. And, after another series of storms, the bow of the ship was swept almost 80 miles up the coast, where it was later towed out to sea and sent to the bottom. The stern of the New Carissa still sits on the beach where it ran aground almost 10 years ago.

Scott not only gave me the tour, but he also gave me yet another perspective on wh
at is happening to the fishing industry, the logging industry, local flora and fauna, and the fate of the southern Oregon coast in general. With a mix of personal opinion and job experience, Scott helped me understand that there are several sides to every story. By talking with the locals, the environmentalists, the politicians, and members of the government agencies in charge of caring for the environment, I've learned that every opinion is valid, and every opinion needs to be heard. Only by taking every perspective into account, can we make the best educated decision on any issue. Granted, that's a lot easier said than done, especially when hearing each of those opinions takes so much time and because we live in a society where the loudest voice usually wins. But hearing them all is the goal. Even if we can't reach it, we should strive for it. I, myself, am guilty at times of basing my decisions on only a part of the story. But, I've learned that I don't know squat until I've heard all the sides. No matter how educated you are, or how long you've been in your particular field, the only way to be fully prepared to make a decision about what's going on in regards to our environment, is to see the story from all sides.

Another example of the conflicts of interest becomes clear when discussing the Oregon Dunes. These dunes, formed over 50 million years ago, are home to numerous flora and fauna, but are in danger of disappearing over the next 50 to 100 years because of the proliferation of non-native plant species. In addition, the dunes are constantly moving. Winds shift them, carve them, and push them into the tree line where they smother nearby sections of natural pine forest. They are a beautiful sight to see, but they are destroying the surrounding vegetation.

And, not only are the dunes a spectacular sight to see, they are also a fun place to visit. For years, the dunes have been a playground for dune buggies and ATVs. And numerous businesses have sprouted up along Highway 101 to take advantage of this government-designated Recreational Area.

So the conflict isn't just over the plants a
nd wildlife... the conflict exists for those that make their livings off the dunes and those that want the dunes protected at all costs. It's another classic case of Nature versus people and Nature versus Nurture. Do you protect the dunes at the cost of a community's livelihood? Do you eliminate one species of plant so that another can thrive? Who gets to make these decisions? It's full of controversy, and the only way to come to a valid solution is to take all these perspectives into account. I know I must be rambling, but I've learned a valuable lesson, and I truly believe that people need to hear about it. Too many important decisions are being made by people who simply don't have all the facts. And that needs to change.

On a different note...
I have to apologize for the small number of images I've been posting. I've been trying to keep the images relevant to the blog's text, and that means a lot of great images are being left out. But, not to worry! The website will be completed by the end of this month, and I'll have gallery after gallery to showcase what I've been doing while on the road. And, I'll let everyone know when it goes live. So, if I don't have your email address, make sure you get it to me!

So many stories to tell. So little time...


just shae said...

it is amazing, awing and so wonderful that you have embarked on this adventure...... not only for you but for our generations, past and future. Not enough people take the time to listen to the quiet voices and sometimes people don't even realize, unintentionally, that those quiet voices exist. Until someone puts in it perspective and brings it to the foreground. There are many levels of things to be learned from Vanishing America. I feel privledged to have been able to witness some of it from the start. And I can't wait to see the finish!

Brian said...

I learned from my dad that unless you know enough about the topic of discussion or debate, then shut your pie hole. He actually never said that, but actions speak louder than words. Many people speak their minds but it may only be based on what they heard, but not what they know for a fact. That's a great lesson brother man, keep up the perspective teachings for all of us! I'm enjoying your trip, so post whenever possible. Later.