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By Oly Mingo
It was cold. Really cold. As the R44 helicopter chopped briskly through the Cascade morning chill, the pilot glanced at me and laughed. "You want the heat on?"
As the director of photography for Howell at the Moon Productions in Wenatchee, my work takes me constantly into the landscapes of the North Cascades. This October morning, we had set out to capture aerial footage of the fish-bearing rivers and tributaries of Chelan County and, as any videographer knows, if you can avoid shooting through a window you do. The doors had been left behind back at Boeing Field, allowing me to hang out the side of the chopper with my high-definition video gear. The cold wasn't going anywhere.
I was at work on a short film to document the impact of a groundbreaking collaboration between the citizens of North Central Washington, scientists, county and tribal governments and federal agencies aimed at preserving and restoring the iconic Upper Columbia salmon population. Since the 1950s, the populations of Chinook, Coho, Sockeye and Steelhead in the upper Columbia have been in steep decline. But now, thanks to a concerted effort known as the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Plan, real progress is being made to reverse that trend. Natural spawning and rearing habitats destroyed by development are now being restored and areas of still-pristine salmon habitat are being preserved.
The work taking place in Chelan County has recently begun to draw national attention as an important model for working collaboratively in the effort to bring vital species back from the brink of extinction. So, as I flexed my fingers to keep them from going numb on the camera controls, it helped, as it always helps, to remember what a privilege it is to tell such stories to the rest of the world.
Do you have a favorite place in the North Cascades? What about a special memory or experience that sticks out in your mind? Take a moment to share your story or photos with us and you could be featured in an upcoming edition of our e-newsletter or on our website!
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