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Ormond Wetland Wonderland

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Ormond Wetland Wonderland, a half-hour documentary on Ventura County’s Ormond Beach, is the second in Earth Alert’s series on the Central Coast. It presents a narrative by coastal wetlands expert Wayne Ferren, overlaid with video footage and photographic stills, captured by Alan Sanders over more than a decade at Ormond. The narration and video have been artfully combined with a subtle, lyrical soundtrack by Mike de Martino. “I’m pleased with the documentary,” said Janet Bridgers, who wrote and edited the documentary, “because it draws the viewer into a gentle educational experience of surprising scientific depth.”

The documentary educates the viewer on the basic biology of the Ventura County coastal wetland, describing the difference between types of marshes, natural sand dunes and surrounding transitional areas, and how they foster different kinds of plants and animals, particularly birds. Ferren describes how this geographically small area is not only important to Ventura County, but also to wetland restoration efforts throughout Central and Southern California. He makes the case for it being one of the most important coastal wetlands in Southern and Central California. Ferren believes that the Ormond Beach wetland, because of surrounding undeveloped agricultural land, is the only Southern California wetland that has potential to survive rising ocean levels, which will cause the wetland to move into the upland areas that now face intense development pressure.

Ormond Wetland Wonderland premiered in Oxnard on February 11, 2009 in a free event at the Del Norte Regional Recycling & Transfer Station.

“The documentary has real potential to show people of Ventura County what a treasure lies at Ormond,” said Bridgers. “Hopefully, it can help rally needed community support for this biological treasure.”

Sun, Sand, Oil & Gas

Sand, Sun, Oil & Gas traces the more-than-a-century history of coastal oil and gas development along the Santa Barbara Channel with particular emphasis on the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.

“This documentary, which debuted in January 2007, provides comments from major figures involved in reporting of and protection from oil and gas effects for the past 40 years. These experts clearly state that whatever oil and gas proponents say about their projects, the fact is that oil and gas development is inherently polluting,” Bridgers said. “And the historical facts clearly bear that out,” she added.

The documentary includes historic visuals of early oil wells and the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill contributed by numerous sources including the estates of Robert Easton and Dick Smith and by KEYT-TV in Santa Barbara. Music for the documentary has been composed by Michael de Martino. “Earth Alert is extremely grateful for the cooperation that was offered on this project,” Bridgers said.

The documentary debuted to a standing-room only free public presentation at the Santa Barbara on January 9, 2007, at the Santa Barbara Library and in Oxnard on January 10 at the Oxnard Public Library. The presentations were followed by discussion of coastal protection efforts’ relevance to local, state and global communities.

“The work on this documentary began with the ‘Heroes of the Coast’ project to record oral histories of the state’s leading coastal activists. “We’ve reached the point where the major activists from the time of the oilspill, and the passage of Prop 20, which created the Coastal Act, are elderly. Some have died, are ill, or have retired and moved away,” said Janet Bridgers, the documentary’s producer. “This project honors their contributions, with the hope that it will help inspire renewed commitment to the coast.”

The project was largely funded by a grant from the California Council for the Humanities, with additional funding provided by the Los Padres Chapter of the Sierra Club and Ormond Beach Observers.

Sharing the Santa Barbara Channel

Sharing the Channel offers both modern and historical insight into the importance of the Santa Barbara Channel and Northern Channel Islands to human habitation of the area. “In making the documentary, I’ve found that the opposing perspectives of small scale commercial fishermen and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary are particularly poignant,” said Janet Bridgers, producer, writer and editor of the documentary. “We may be seeing the last generation of small scale fishing in the Channel, a tradition that goes back to the early Chumash,” she said.

This is the third Earth Alert documentary dealing with issues relevant to the Santa Barbara Channel and coastline. The first was Sand, Sun, Oil & Gas about offshore oil and gas development in the Channel area and the second was Ormond Wetland Wonderland, about Ormond Beach, a coastal wetland in Oxnard that’s been called the most important wetland on the central coast.

“We have such a beautiful coast, with historically abundant resources, and many different commercial interests and anything that helps all of us to understand its challenges, while we enjoy its beauty, is essential,” Bridgers said.

The documentary was funded in part by a grant from the California Council for the Humanities as part of the Council’s statewide California Stories initiative. The Council is an independent nonprofit organization and a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information on the Council and the California Stories initiative, visit www.californiastories.org.

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