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Go the Distance: Whales, Wild Salmon and the Snake River Dams

Date & Time
Saturday, November 6, 2021, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

For eons, a one-of-a-kind population of killer whales has hunted chinook salmon along the Pacific Coast. But, in recent years, salmon numbers have plummeted and orcas are starving as a result. The solution, say leading whale scientists, is getting rid of four fish-killing dams 500 miles away on the largest tributary to what once was the largest Chinook producing river on earth. Studying whales is science. Removing dams is politics. This panel of Indigenous leaders, fishermen, conservationists, scientists and activists shares lessons on the front lines of the fight to free the Snake River—running through Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington—by breaching the lower 4 Snake River Dams. They’ll discuss what it will take to restore salmon populations, after a screening of the award-winning documentary, Dammed to Extinction.

Session Type
Session Tags
Restoration/Conservation, Salmon, Climate Justice, Relationship with Land, Indigenous Teaching
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Dr. Deborah Giles is one of the world’s leading experts on the Southern Resident killer whales. Starting as a research assistant in 2005, then the subject of her graduate studies and her entire professional career since receiving her PhD, making Giles one of the few scientists to have focused almost exclusively on this iconic population.

Giles serves as the Science & Research Director for Wild Orca, and as a Research Scientist at the University of Washington—monitoring the Southern Resident killer whales’ health through non-invasive sampling with Eba, her highly-trained poop detection dog.

Giles collaborates with government scientists and other researchers to enhance understanding of the many impacts on these endangered whales from overfishing, pollution and noise. She represents their interests with policymakers, and is frequently interviewed by print and broadcast media as one of the principal voices calling for the recovery of these endangered orcas.
Dr. Deborah Giles
Lucinda George Simpson - Elder, Nez Perce People is a descendant of the Chief Joseph Wallowa band of Nez Perce. Retired from an influential career in law enforcement, Lucinda continues her work to make her community stronger. She lives in Lapwai, Idaho on the Nez Perce Reservation. “I am the matriarch of my family. I have raised four grandchildren. My mother was a full-blooded Nez Perce. I am the granddaughter of the chief of the Nooksack Tribe. My roots span from the mountains of Idaho to the Salish Sea. My blood lines trace the journeys of wild salmon and orca whales.”
Lucinda GEORGE - Simpson
Steven Hawley lives in Hood River, Oregon with his wife Kathy, son Elliot and daughter Annabel. He is the author of Recovering A Lost River, (Beacon Press, 2011) which examines the growing dam removal movement in the U.S. He’s also the co-producer of Dammed to Extinction, a documentary film that depicts the plight of killer whales that depend on salmon as a source of food. For the past 15 years, Steven has also been an advocate for the removal of four federal dams on the lower Snake River, which would offer salmon and steelhead unfettered access to thousands of miles of pristine wilderness streams protected in one of the country’s largest wilderness areas.
Steven Hawley
Michael Peterson is a documentary film director living in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. His love of the outdoors and passion for the preservation of the land, animals and those who live in it lends the imagery he captures to be timeless and relevant.
Prior to directing Dammed to Extinction Peterson directed The Rapid Decline of the Lower Deschutes River. This short film depicts the recent environmental tragedy taking place on this Oregon waterway.

Peterson spent 20 years working in film and television in Hollywood. His visual effects film credits include Independence Day, Armageddon, Contact and Star Trek First Contact. He has worked on dozens of music videos and national broadcast commercials.
Michael Peterson

Moderated By

In 2006, Mark founded August Island Pictures in Seattle and learned the craft of storytelling by writing and directing brand films for clients like: Amazon, Microsoft, The Nature Conservancy, T-Mobile and the United Nations Development Programme. As a filmmaker, Mark Titus has directed and produced short films since 2003. In 2014 Mr. Titus helmed The Breach – an award-winning feature documentary about wild salmon. In 2020, Mark Titus launched impact brand, Eva's Wild concurrent to the release of his newest award-winning feature documentary, The Wild, which examines the fate of Bristol Bay, Alaska. In early 2021, Mark launched a new podcast, Save What You Love. Through his broadcasting and storytelling, Mark carries the message that humanity has an inherent need for wildness - and to fulfill that need we have a calling to protect wild places and wild things. You can find all of Mark’s current projects at www.evaswild.com.
Mark Titus