For eons, a one-of-a-kind population of killer whales has hunted chinook salmon along the Pacific Coast of the United States. For the last 40 years, renowned whale scientist Ken Balcomb has closely observed them. He’s familiar with a deadly pattern, as salmon numbers plummet orcas starve.
The solution, says Balcomb, 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. Defiantly mixing the two, says Balcomb, has become the most important work of his storied career. Meanwhile, the race to extinction for salmon and orcas speeds up, nipping at the heels of the plodding, clumsy pace of political change in the Pacific Northwest, where dams and hydropower are king.
Best Feature Winner of the Eugene Environmental Film Festival 2019 and Audience Choice Best Feature at Gig Harbor Film Festival 2019
About the filmmakers
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.
Steven Hawley is the writer of Recovering a Lost River a book that inspired the documentary film Dam Nation by Patagonia.
Steven is a senior correspondent at The Drake Magazine and his work has appeared in Outside Magazine, High Country News, Fly Fisherman, Patagonia, The Seattle Times, and the Oregonian.
Steven is currently authoring a book that will be published by Patagonia Books in 2019.