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Friday, June 2, 2023
June 2, 2023

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Panel explores Gifford Pinchot in year of fires, film ‘The Dark Divide’

By , Columbian staff writer

Our own nearby Gifford Pinchot National Forest has recently taken two turns in the spotlight, for very different reasons.

First came the summer 2020 release of “The Dark Divide,” an independent film about the adventures of real-life scientist Robert Michael Pyle during his six-week hike across the Gifford Pinchot’s most remote, roadless area in search of rare butterflies and the legendary Sasquatch.

Later came widespread West Coast wildfires that also tore through nearly 30,000 acres of the Gifford Pinchot. The Big Hollow Fire isn’t making headlines anymore, but as of mid-October the blaze was still alive and 70 percent contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service. It probably won’t be completely extinguished until winter rain and snow finish the job.

The Mount St. Helens Institute will consider the Gifford Pinchot’s history, future, resources and challenges at 5 p.m. Monday in a streaming panel discussion featuring a wide range of perspectives, from Indigenous communities to tourism.

Pyle will introduce the panel. “The Dark Divide” actor Kimberly Guerrero will host.

Panelists will be Molly Whitney of the Cascade Forest Conservancy; Jared Stewart of the Mount St. Helens Institute; Taylor Aalvik of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe; Tracy Calizon of the U.S. Forest Service; and Mary Kay of the Washington Tourism Alliance. Music will be provided by Giants in the Trees, a band formed by Pyle’s friend and former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic.

Register for the streaming panel discussion, which is part of the Mount St. Helens Institute’s Virtual Views and Brews series, at giffordpinchot.splashthat.com. “The Dark Divide” is now streaming via the Kiggins Theatre, and you can watch it at home via www.kigginstheatre.com/virtual-cinema.