I wanted to give you an update on our Film Project, since the last newsflash about it was in late April after we had been to the water and wastewater treatment plants in Lethbridge. That was a hugely popular posting - I guess there's a fascination with what goes down the drain. I have just a couple of photos for you here - there have been many more posted on Twitter under #oldmangoestohollywood so do check in there if you are a Twit ... ah... I mean Tweep ... ah Twitterer.
Probably the saddest thing I have to report (and it truly is enough to make me weep - except there is already far too much water involved in this story) - is that we have been RAINED OUT on 5 consecutive film dates.
What are the chances?! The odds of rain on every single shoot are slimmer than the chances of winning the lottery! I should be a zillionaire!
So let's start by telling you all about the photos I would like to be showing you here. Well, first there would have been ones of a flyover of Waterton ... and then a flyover of Dutch Creek with Board Member and Trout Unlimited expert Richard Burke doing narration next to the cockpit. Ever hopeful, we got up at 5:00 am , packed our lunches and drove out to Cayley and pulled in the latest weather reports every 5 minutes, hoping it would clear. It did not. Either day.
Next, I would like to tell you about Taber. That DID actually happen and a few people (not the ones in the photo below) got quite sunburnt, facing into the camera all day long.
We were guided by Chris Gallagher from Taber Irrigation District, sponsors of the Film Project. (It's not too late! You can still be involved and become a sponsor, too! We are looking for organizations who make the watershed a better place to live, work and play to feature in our Film Project...)
We had a great day - starting off with Naturalist Lloyd Bennett out by the Sand Dunes 25 km east of Taber. Actually, the crew was out at the crack of dawn getting "beauty shots" as the sun rose. We met Lloyd and talked about biodiversity, endangered/at-risk species, invasive species, sagebrush, and more. I was incredibly moved by Lloyd's deep passion for the land and all its creatures. Thanks to Lloyd for taking time out of his busy day for us!
Chris took us out to meet Mike Wind, north of the dunes. His place has got the most stunning view of the Oldman. That, a slice of homemade cake and a steaming cup of coffee and we were set to plan the rest of the shoot. Mike's got some pretty fancy variable-rate irrigation technology and some beautiful-looking potato hills. I swear I am now in reverance every time I eat a potato chip after hearing him talk about all the work that goes into it. But we didn't just hear about it, we went to his production area to see the world's hugest storage of potatoes!!!
That's where this next photo comes in: Mike and his crew good-naturedly signed the media release forms so that we could film them in the plant.
Out at Mike Wind's place near Taber. It takes good water and smart watershed management to make good potatoes!
We next caught shots of intensive livestock operations - hogs, chickens and cattle - all from one viewpoint in a 360 degree view around the landscape. Watershed health means managing industry and prosperity alongside water quality issues.
We got some great shots of the canals and the 'Gabion' wall near north Fincastle (it's Italian for "basket" and it's a natural way of getting gunk out of the water). From there, on to seeKyle Gouw and some gorgeous looking onions and his on-farm reservoir. We were also joined at the end of the day byMayor De Vlieger- thanks to everyone who participated as our "cast" this day and props to Chris for an entire day of his time for this project.
The other locations this month?
Well, our MAJOR SHOOT of course was going to be up at the Oldman falls in the headwaters. Totally rained out and I mean POURING both days.
The best I got was this little picture on my phone of a beautiful little creek when it had calmed down to a drizzle the end of the second day.
This little creek was bubbling and clear but all the others we saw these two days were straight brown sludge and the area up at Allison Creek has been ravaged by OHV use - and illegal felling of centuries' old trees.
Another day, another rained-out shoot, this time out at Piikani Reserve. I was truly honoured to have Evelyn Crowshoe, "Mother of the Oldman River", with us this day. She's here in the photo below with Randall Wolftail, who is on the OWC Board.
It quasi-cleared up briefly, so we went to look out at the hard work that is being done to secure the pumps and equipment from the river - it has vastly changed its course. One of the saddest things I heard this day was that, not so long ago (both Evelyn and Randall remember this), the water was swimmable and the bushes were laden with berries. Over 100 people lived down near the water. The dam changed the nature of the river: it is too cold to swim in and moves far too fast to be safe. Evelyn said: "No one comes down here anymore".
Heartfelt thanks to Evelyn, Randall, the Piikani CEO Byron Jackson and Shirley Crow Shoe for their time and willingness to speak with us on this rainy day.
You are going to be enthralled by the Napi stories they shared with us!
Evelyn Crowshoe is about to bless the river with a gift of tobacco once the cameras get out of her face and give her some solitude!
On the way down to Castle Ski Resort
Some other shots ... I went down to Castle Ski Resort for the AGM of the Alberta Southwest Regional Economic Development AGM to present the new Oldman emblem and talk about the Film Project ... no rain, but some really outstanding rolling clouds!
Our next shoot is June 16th down near Waterton - PLEASE pray for glorious sunshine and epic panoramas!!! I'll keep you posted...
The sun's just set on our beautiful watershed. Absolutely breathtaking.
For more information about the Film Project and how you, your organization or your classroom can get involved, please call Anna at: 587 224 3793. Or what the heck .... come to the AGM on June 23rd, eat some 10th anniversary cake and hear all about it!
I even have a sneak preview clip I'm going to show there!!!