June 8, 2021 — As the region heads into a massive drought and the start of fire season, there are some signs of optimism about humanity’s ability to reverse some of the damage it’s done.
Gerald “Bam” Britton, a senior at Round Valley High School in Covelo, recently made a film with a title that sounds like a line from a poem about nature. From River to Ridge and From Fish to Fire is a series of interviews with scientists and Tribal elders about the relationship between fire and water, different trees on the landscape, and the now-scant runs of salmon and steelhead in the Eel.
Britton won an internship from the Public Broadcasting Service through KEET TV in Eureka earlier this year, and worked with the Eel River Recovery Project to meet up with interviewees in the field. Last week, he was featured on the PBS Student Media Showcase for his work about cultural response to climate change.
Britton is headed off to Northwest Indian College in Washington to major in Native Environmental Science. He got a head start on that, in his interview with Vernon “Woods” Wilson, a former Cahto Tribal chair and champion of controlled burns. Wilson explained how fir trees in the lower Tenmile Creek, which are no longer controlled by prescribed burns, suck up huge amounts of water and then choke out the oaks, which are a keystone species.