Threatened super bloom site is at heart of new film

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A recent super bloom at the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Courtesy of Jeff McLoughlin.

The Carrizo Plain National Monument boasts extensive spring wildfire blooms , and it’s home to one of the highest concentrations of endangered species in California. It’s a landscape of rolling fields, mountain ranges, and high desert plains -- tucked between San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Kern County.

“It's quiet. It's almost a spiritual experience… You can spend hours out there and hear nothing but the buzzing of the bees,” says Jeff McLoughlin, director of the new documentary, “ Carrizo Plain: A Sense of Place .” 

The film reveals the unique qualities of the region through the eyes of three artists: Pilot and aerial photographer Bill Dewey captures geologic formations like the San Andreas Fault from his small plane; and landscape painters Chris Chapman and John Iwerks follow in the footsteps of Santa Barbara’s Ray Strong, an iconic preservationist painter.

Artist Chris Chapman paints in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Courtesy of Jeff McLoughlin.

Aerial photographer Bill Dewey flies over Carrizo. Courtesy of Jeff McLoughlin.

The artists are also members of Santa Barbara’s Oak Group , a collective of artists dedicated to the preservation of natural places.

The documentary premieres at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival as the Trump administration is trying to open up Carrizo to new oil production. In an attempt to block that, California Congressman Salud Carbajal has introduced the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act , which would designate nearly 250,000 acres of land within Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument as protected wilderness areas.

“Carrizo Plain: A Sense of Place” premieres at the Santa Barbara International Festival on Saturday, January 25 at the Arlington Theater. It was produced by the Wildling Museum with the support of the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation.




Kathryn Barnes