Saving our Sanctuaries and Wild Places

Posted on Aug 28, 2017

Guest blogger John Waller, principal of Uncage the Soul, knows about wild places. His work as a director and cinematographer has brought him from the top of Mount Fuji to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. A passion for fly fishing led him to the story of Frank Moore, a veteran with a devotion to the healing power of nature. Digital One jumped on the opportunity to provide sound design for the project.

In 2013 Uncage the Soul Productions released Mending the Line, featuring WWII veteran Frank Moore and his wife of 70 years, Jeanne Moore, as they returned to Normandy France to fly fish the rivers that Frank had crossed over as a soldier. The film went on to receive numerous awards including the Audience Choice Award at the Banff Mountain Film Festival.  In the years since, Frank and Jeanne have become like grandparents. I make frequent visits to their cabin on the North Umpqua to spend time, split firewood, and uncover more of their life wisdom.  Frank and his wife, Jeanne, have spent their lives as stewards to the North Umpqua and the Steamboat Creek tributary, instilling a legacy of conservation to preserve our cherished natural sanctuaries for wildlife and our own human mental health.

As a veteran of WWII, Frank was not immune to the trauma of war. When he returned to Oregon, he spent days fly fishing…so many in fact that his wife Jeanne placed an ad in the Roseburg newspaper: “Lost, one owner and manager of Moore’s Cafe…last seen up the North Umpqua River”. Frank found healing on the North Umpqua River from what today we would diagnose as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Steelhead Sanctuary

Frank Moore knows that a protected natural space is a place of refuge, safety, and healing; not just for veterans with PTSD, but anyone who suffers from mental illness. 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness in a given year – over 43 million Americans – yet over half receive no treatment. Serious mental illness costs our country billions in lost earnings each year, and is a leading cause of hospitalization and premature death.  Every day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide. We annually spend more on mental illness than heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  But what about alternatives to this staggering cost for traditional care? Across science, literature, politics, and culture, a consistent and universal theme emerges: “connection with nature is good for people”. And it’s a sentiment that seems to span otherwise contentious political and religious barriers.  Nature has an open door policy.

Steelhead Sanctuary

A bill has been introduced in the US legislature that would federally designate 100,000 acres of the Steamboat Creek watershed as the “Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary”. The conversation to-date has largely focused on the environmental benefits of preserving our natural spaces. But the conversation is far bigger. Our short documentary, “Finding Sanctuary on the North Umpqua: A Veteran’s Legacy” promotes preservation as a way for humans to find a re-birth and to heal. Digital One’s exceptional sound mastering and design talents have contributed to both Mending the Line and our new short film. This has been a passion project for many of us, including Digital One, who are invested in seeing this unopposed legislation move forward.

How can you help? My hope is that you can help share this shift in conversation about conservation. It isn’t a partisan issue, it’s a human issue, but we need representative support. To truly support our troops, we need to offer them sanctuary and healing, and science has demonstrated time and time again: Nature Heals.

Can you please lend your support to The Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary?  Contact your Representative and let them know that you support this initiative.  Find your local representative here: