Reclaiming the Sierra


The Sierra Fund and SYRCL teamed up to present a film series as part of our Reclaiming the Sierra conference on the afternoon of Friday, May 4, 2012.

This part of the conference was FREE and open to the public.

This three hour series featured films and speakers about the impact of historic mining in California and elsewhere, and a fun 90 minute blast of inspiring short films from SYRCL’s 2012 Wild & Scenic Film Festival.

Schedule of Films & Speakers:

Welcome:  Caleb Dardick, Executive Director of SYRCL

Gold, Greed & Genocide (30 min.) The California Gold Rush had massive environmental impacts, but even greater (and less talked about) impacts on the native peoples of the region.  This film documents the cultural impacts of legacy mining, as told by native youth interviewing their elders.  A must-see for every Californian.

Speakers:  Don Ryberg, Chairman, Tsi-Akim Maidu and Sherri Norris, CA Indian Environmental Alliance discuss the making of Gold, Greed & Genocide and the outreach tour after the film was released

Tar Creek (55 min.) The story of the worst environmental disaster you’ve never heard of: the Tar Creek Superfund site. Once one of the largest lead and zinc mines on the planet, Tar Creek is now home to more than 40 square miles of environmental devastation in northeastern Oklahoma: acid mine water in the creeks, stratospheric lead poisoning in the children, and sinkholes that melt backyards and ball fields. After 30 years residents are still fighting for decontamination, and environmental justice. Director’s Choice and Audience Choice Awards, Southern Winds FF; Best Feature Doc, Nickel Independent FF

Speaker:  Lori Van Laanan on SYRCL’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Deep Down’s People Power Series: Mountain Roots (6 min.) Carol Judy, who lives deep in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee, has a very special connection to the mountains. Carol digs ginseng, goldenseal, and other medicinal roots from special spots in the mountains that she knows and loves. Now, due to mountaintop removal coal mining, her ancestral mountains are threatened.

One Plastic Beach (8 min.) Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang have been collecting plastic debris off one beach in Northern California for over ten years. Each piece of plastic Richard and Judith pick up comes back to their house, where it gets cleaned, categorized and stored before being used for their art. The couple make sculptures, prints, jewelry and installations with the plastic they find washed up, raising a deeper concern with the problem of plastic pollution in our seas.

Seasons: Winter (4 min.) Brian Ward discovers an unexpected and new-found love for water in its frozen and expanded form.

Marion Stoddard: The Work of 1,000 (30 min.) This is the parallel journey of two characters: one a young woman discouraged at her future as a suburban housewife, the other a river — one beautiful and teeming with wildlife — now a hopeless, toxic sludge pit. Chronicling an important episode in U.S. environmental history, this inspirational story examines the human side of acclaimed environmental pioneer Marion Stoddart who proved that with vision and commitment, an “ordinary” person can accomplish extraordinary things.

Weed War (6 min.) One man’s obsession to do his part for the environment using weed-eating goats to control noxious invaders in the Rocky Mountains.

The New Environmentalists: The Rhino’s Flight (5 min.) Zimbabwe: When the rhino population in his homeland is threatened by heavily armed poachers, a visionary bush pilot moves the animals hundreds of miles to safety.

The Craziest Idea (7 min.) 2011 was an historic year for rivers.  The two dam removal projects that began as “crazy ideas” 30 years ago kicked off in this year on the Elwha and White Salmon Rivers in Washington. These dam removal projects are the largest in history and represent a turning point in the effort to restore freeflowing rivers for salmon, recreation and culture.  The climactic moment of the year was the explosive breach of 125 foot tall Condit Dam on the White Salmon, captured using video and timelapse photography techniques.

Seasons: Spring (4 min.) As the snow melts and makes it way to the ocean, Jesse Murphy becomes reinvigorated by the river.

Chasing Water (18 min.) Follow the Colorado River, source to sea, with photographer Pete McBride who takes an intimate look at the watershed as he attempts to follow the irrigation water that sustains his family’s Colorado ranch, down river to the sea. Traversing 1500 miles and draining seven states, the Colorado River supports over 30 million people across the southwest. It is not the longest or largest U.S. river, but it is one of the most loved and litigated in the world. Today, this resource is depleted and stressed. Follow its path with an artistic, aerial view on a personal journey to understand this national treasure. McBride teamed up with his bush-pilot father to capture unique footage and also shadowed the adventure of Jon Waterman who became the first to paddle the entire length of the river.