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Bear River: Last Chance to Change Course

by Craig Denton

Craig Denton notes, "Water will be the primary political, social, and economic issue in the Intermountain West in the twenty-first century. " Urban Utah thirsts for the Great Salt Lake principal source, the Bear River. Plans abound to divert it for a rapidly growing Wasatch Front, as the last good option for future water. But is it? Who now uses the river and how? Who are its stakeholders? What does the Bear mean to them? What is left for further use? How do we measure the Bear's own interest, give it a voice in decisions? Craig Denton's documentary takes on these questions. He tells the story of the river and the people, of many sorts, with diverse purposes, who live and depend on it. Bear River begins in alpine snowfields, lakes, and creeks in the Uinta Mountains, flows north through Wyoming, loops south in Idaho, and enters the inland sea by way of the an environmentally critical bird refuge. Along the way it has many uses: habitat, farms, electricity, recreation, lawns and homes. Denton researches the natural and human history of the river, photographed it, interviewed many stakeholders, and tried to capture the river perspective. His photographs, printed as crisp duotones, carry us downstream, ultimately to big questions, begging to be answered soon, about what we should and can make of the Bear River. Denton writes, Gravity my engine, Water my soul. I am the teller of life and deep time. You would measure me. Sever me. Own me. In your name. Let me flow In your imagination That I may speak.

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