Deer are among the wildlife that benefit from Ennis Creek. (John Gussman)

Deer are among the wildlife that benefit from Ennis Creek. (John Gussman)

Film and discussion about Ennis Creek available for free

Zoom discussions set for Tuesday

PORT ANGELES — A Zoom celebration and discussion about a film documenting the story of Ennis Creek is planned for Tuesday.

“Ennis — A Creek Worth Saving,” filmed by John Gussman of Sequim, can be viewed for free at vimeo.com/429119876.

Invitations to join the Zoom discussions at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday can be requested from Friends of Ennis Creek by email at ennis@olypen.com.

“Potential participants need to view the film ahead of time since its quality doesn’t come through on Zoom,” said Robbie Mantooth, co-founder of Friends of Ennis Creek with husband Jim Mantooth.

Mantooth said Friends of Ennis Creek began exploring ways for more people to see the stream and understand habitat needs for its salmon, steelhead, cutthroat trout and other wildlife last fall when the organization was sponsoring guided walks.

“We wanted people who couldn’t walk down to the creek — and back up — to be able to see this beautiful part of the stream with its model habitat restoration the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe created,” Mantooth said.

“A film seemed a great way to do that.”

The film is the result of planning and production that began in early January, said Gussman, who started Doubleclick Productions in 1982. His pro bono work developing the film was supported by numerous donors.

Most filming and interviews were completed before the pandemic, he said, and time-consuming editing kept film production moving forward.

That included finding words in interviews and narration to match images and tell the story of Ennis Creek, he explained, noting “it’s like a jigsaw puzzle with lots of little pieces.”

That puzzle meant not knowing how the nearly two-dozen filmed interviews completed would fit into the film.

“We had much more good materials than we could use,” Gussman said.

Gussman’s best-known previous film was “Return of the River,” a 2014 production in partnership with Jessica Plumb about removal of the Elwha River dams. The film’s awards include Port Townsend Film Festival Best Feature Documentary; Gold Jury Prize, Social Justice Film Festival; Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival; Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival of Malaysia Best International Documentary; and Wild & Scenic Film Festival in California.

The filmmaker said he agreed to make the film because local supporters of restoring and protecting Ennis Creek are so passionate about what they call “the last best chance of a salmon stream in Port Angeles.”

The Port Angeles Urban Drainages report on www.clallam.net calls Ennis Creek “the healthiest of the seven small Port Angeles urban streams” regarding restoration potential for fish.

The 8.65-mile stream begins in snowfields above 6,000 feet below Mount Angeles and Klahhane Ridge in Olympic National Park.

It drains about 10.5 square miles, making it the smallest snow-fed stream on the Olympic Peninsula.

It enters Port Angeles Harbor from the former Rayonier mill site.

In the film, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s habitat biologist, Mike McHenry, talks about how a team from the tribe placed large logs in the stream to help slow its waters and create better spawning areas as well as places where fish are safer from predators.

Bugs in the logs help provide food.

Tribal members also planted conifers beside the creek to provide an ongoing source of wood as trees mature and fall in the water.

McHenry and others discuss remaining problems for the stream and its fish, including culverts that make it difficult for them to reach the best areas for spawning and growing.

Cathy Lear, Clallam County habitat biologist, adds more information about what fish need, and Ed Chadd demonstrates how Clallam County Streamkeepers volunteers provide information about bugs that help fish grow big enough to survive in the saltwater.

Near the location of an ancient Klallam village, Tribal Chairperson Frances Charles talks about deep connections with the creek and adjacent area.

Klallam singers accompany historic photos and images from the recently restored Port Angeles City Pier mural by local artist Cory Ench, based on interviews with tribal elders and drawings Paul Kane made when he visited the village in 1847.

The creek’s history also shows up in a map Gussman found. Olympic National Park’s Chief Fisheries Biologist Pat Crain contributed contemporary maps.

Gussman used excerpts from more than a dozen filmed interviews.

Narrator Lee Strucker has been leading stream walks since retiring to Port Angeles in 2019 from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

One verse from the song Wes Mantooth wrote and recorded, “Lifeline (from the Snowfields to the Salish Sea),” accompanies film credits.

The complete song’s recording and lyrics are available in a free version at wesmantooth1.bandcamp.com.

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