UC Irvine biologist J.P. Lawrence spent days trekking through four feet of snow in Missoula, Mont., for “Tracking Snow,” a short film that details how researchers have developed a new way of tracking carnivores in the wild.
They can now scoop up tracks and melt out the snow, recovering DNA that can be used to identify the animals.
“It enables the researchers to quickly and easily track them,” Lawrence said. “In the past, what they would have to do if they wanted any genetic sample is find a track and then backtrack for miles in three or four feet of snow before finding where the animal had bedded. Then they would look for hair or scat to get DNA from it.”
Lawrence, a Newport Beach resident, co-directed the film with Danny Copeland, Tanya Martinez and Jackie Aliperti. They worked with the U.S. Forest Service on the project.
“Tracking Snow” is one of several films that will be featured at the second annual Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival on Aug. 3 in Costa Mesa.
The local event, which is part of a national touring festival, showcases short environmental films. This year’s festival will have two adult viewing programs of 11 films and a children’s program with seven films.
“The goal is to bring environmental activists from around Orange County to mingle and see some environmental films, some of which include cutting-edge science techniques,” said Karen Kennedy, an organizer of the local festival.
Other films that will be screened during the adult program include “Fire Followers,” which features botanists from Yosemite National Park as they search for flowers that grow in the wake of wildfires. “Great Old Broads for Wolves” details the national grassroots organization Great Old Broads for Wilderness and its work toward preserving the natural ecosystem of southwestern Colorado.
The children’s program will feature “Aiden’s Butterflies,” which tells of an 11-year-old who has a passion for caring for monarch butterflies.
“Big World” shows adventurer David Morton and his son as they paddleboard down the rivers of western Nepal.
IF YOU GO
What: Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival
When: Aug. 3; 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. start times for adult films, 10 a.m. start time for children’s films
Where: Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church, 2845 Mesa Verde Drive E., Costa Mesa
Cost: $15 for adult program; $8 for children’s program