Wildlife at Malheur Takes Back the Spotlight with New Film Screening

A film made over 10 years showcasing the refuge and its protected wildlife gets its first screening in Portland, with a live soundtrack by Skip vonKuske.

By Sarah Hopwood February 18, 2016

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Malheur has been a household word since a group of militiamen thrust this Southern Oregon Wildlife Refuge into national headlines last month. But did anyone know much more about this natural resource so close to home? One way to find out what’s so important about these 187,757 acres of wildlife habitat is to head for the Alberta Rose Theatre this Sunday, February 21, for the first public screening of Malheur: Seasons of Change.

A documentary by filmmakers Diantha and Jan Knott, made over the course of 10 years, Malheur: Seasons of Change will showcase the natural beauty of the refuge, set against a score by Portland Cello Project’s Skip vonKuske. VonKuske will also be in attendance at the screening on Sunday, providing live accompaniment.

Think about it: depending on the time of year, this recently contested piece of land supports anywhere from 5 to 66 percent of the Pacific Flyway’s migrating birds, not to mention 58 mammal species like deer, antelopes, elk and coyotes. No wonder then-President Theodore Roosevelt took interest in 1908 and created the refuge as one of the first protected lands in the country.

Ammon Bundy claimed that Roosevelt's decision was “an unconstitutional act,” and the brothers vowed to stay on the refuge until it was “shut down forever and the federal government relinquish[es] control.” In the end, their stay was only 41 days and the refuge remains in government hands. The Knotts' film is an opportunity to see what was at stake.

Malheur: Seasons of Change is showing at the Alberta Rose Theatre at 7 pm on Sunday, Feb 21. A portion of the proceeds from Sunday’s screening are earmarked for the Malheur Field Station.

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