by Andrew R. Torry — January 5, 2016 — from The Daily Astorian —
Filmmakers seek to raise awareness of man-made environmental dangers in our forests —
CANNON BEACH — Standing on the beach, looking east, you can see them — the expanding swaths of clearcuts carved out of the hills. Every few months it seems another is shaved away, almost like a haircut. What’s tougher to see — at least with the naked eye — is how those clearcuts have the potential to disturb both the water we drink and the air we breathe.
Such potential for devastation is the subject of “Behind the Emerald Curtain,” a documentary film to be shown at the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Admission is free. An informal question-and-answer session and reception follows the screening.
The film is produced by the Portland-based nonprofit advocacy group Pacific Rivers along with North Fork Studios, and directed by Shane Anderson.
Much of the crisply shot and foreboding half-hour film is set less than 30 miles south of Cannon Beach, in Wheeler and Rockaway Beach. In those nearby locales, the film posits, both drinking water and oxygen have been compromised by destructive logging practices.
According to the film, natural root systems act as a filter for Rockaway’s Jetty Creek watershed, and that after such forests were clearcut the amount of silt in the water increased dramatically. Filtering out that silt is a complex and costly process, which added unnecessary chemicals to public drinking water. Improvements to Rockaway Beach’s water processing facilities, the film asserts, cost some $1.6 million.
“Behind the Emerald Curtain” also explores chemical spraying after forests have been logged.
Most disturbing is the testimony of one Wheeler resident. She tells of staggering to a local clinic after a spraying near her home. Upon arrival she finds the scent of the same chemicals to have permeated the clinic, and a patient suffers a subsequent seizure.
In a film full of disturbing images, another follows. As the camera zooms out from the clinic, a freshly logged hill looms directly behind it.
According to filmmakers, the only way Wheeler residents can be made abreast of nearby spraying schedules is to pay $25 for the information.
“You have to pay to find out if you’re being poisoned,” says a flabbergasted interviewee.
But “Behind the Emerald Curtain” doesn’t take issue with particular perpetrators so much as it does with Oregon law. Under the auspices of the Oregon Forest Practices Act, it alleges, everything these private landowners — and the companies who log it — are doing is perfectly legal.
As such, the film is as much a call to action as it is an exposé.
‘You have to pay to find out if you’re being poisoned.’