A heartfelt reminder of our local treasure

Editorial Board, Walla Walla Union Bulletin, September 21, 2018

There were lots of oohs and aahs in Whitman College’s Maxey Auditorium on Wednesday night for the preview of a new documentary film series called “Secret Life of the Forest.” Judging by the 600 or so people who crowded into the two preview showings, there is strong interest in appreciating the northern Blue Mountain range featured in the series.

Produced by Blue Mountain Television, with support from the Umatilla National Forest and the Blue Mountain Land Trust, the series was created by editor/photographer Daniel Biggs and writer/narrator Mike Denny. Wednesday’s preview showing was the opening for the 13-part series set to air on Blue Mountain Television beginning Sept. 23. (For information on how to see it, visit bmt.tv.) Biggs and Denny, with no budget, spent more than a year filming and writing the series.

Denny, a local naturalist and U-B columnist, brings his wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to highlight the uniquely rich, expansive ecosystem of the Blue Mountains. Orchids, butterflies, owls, raptors, deer and bear call the mountains that rim our Valley home. They all rely on a rich and largely remote ecosystem of water, soils and vegetation. The producers said they hope the series will show viewers “the vibrant life, giving waters, and vital places found across the Northern Blue Mountains.”

Biggs’ photography showcases much of the mountain region’s beauty — a treat, given that access to the interior of the mountain range is difficult. We know views of the Blues from the Valley are much appreciated. Wait until you see what’s up there from the inside.

The 45-minute preview on Wednesday highlighted owls, spectacularly exotic native orchid flowers, beetles and more. Throughout, the packed auditorium voiced their surprise and appreciation at the imagery. Even for those familiar with hiking or hunting in the mountains, the series offers a visually rich understanding of the natural systems in play there. The diversity of plants and animals, and the often-fragile soils they rely on, are a wonder.

The Blue Mountains provide abundant water and resources to our Valley. They’re rightly regarded as a regional treasure. Denny and Biggs — and the organizations that are supporting this series — are also local treasures. Their skill, artistry and knowledge help bring the Blues alive to viewers.

We are fortunate here to live in a special place. “Secret Life of the Forest” is an often-surprising reminder of just how wonderful it really is.