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Archive for December, 2010

Pat Bradley, North Country bureau chief for WAMC Northeast Public Radio, covered the release of Bloom in a Dec. 15th story.  To listen to the full story, follow this link to their New York News page.  Bloom will next be aired on Vermont Public Television in late January of the new year.  Check our screenings page for details on dates and times.

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The National Educational Telecommunication Association (NETA) will be distributing Bloom nationally in 2011.  This means that all NETA membership, PBS stations will have the option to broadcast Bloom next year. NETA is a professional association that serves public television licensees and educational entities in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.  The nonprofit NETA corporation is a membership organization with 92 members representing 94 public broadcasting licensees.  We will keep you posted as national broadcasts are scheduled.

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BLOOM Producer Vic Guadagno and Executive Producer Jon Erickson were interviewed by Thom Hallock on Mountain Lake Journal, the weekly PBS newscast of the Adirondack North Country and Champlain Valley regions.  The interview aired on the eve of the broadcast premiere of BLOOM on Mountain Lake PBS, and coincided with news reports on the signing of Opportunities for Action by Vermont, New York, and Quebec – the new five year strategy document for cleaning up Lake Champlain.

To view the interview as part of the 30 minute December 2nd broadcast of Mountain Lake Journal, go to:
http://video.mountainlake.org/video/1680749951/

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Headline …

New documentary draws attention to Lake Champlain’s algae blooms

Listen to the full story on North Country Public Radio online.

Also, NCPR re-aired a 2007 production on farming and water quality in the northern end of Lake Champlain. From NCPR online …

Lake Champlain is back in the news this week, as politicians from New York, Vermont, and Quebec signed a new compact aimed at cleaning up the lake. Phosphorous pollution has been a growing problem for decades, triggering noxious and potentially toxic algae blooms. A new film about the problem, called Bloom, airs tonight on Mountain Lake PBS.

Listen to the re-airing here.

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Film Focuses Attention on Lake Algae
by Jeff Myers
Plattsburgh Press Republican

PLATTSBURGH — A new film focusing on the health of Lake Champlain offers a grim look at what the film’s producers call a “lake in decline.”

“Bloom, The Plight of Lake Champlain” examines several factors that may be responsible for increased levels of blue-green algae throughout the lake. Blue-green algae is a potentially toxic plant that has attracted growing concern over the past few summers.

“There’s been a lot of news coverage of algae blooms, but the news has been more about the blooms themselves and less about the causes,” said Jon Erickson, the film’s executive producer.

FRUSTRATION

Erickson, a professor and managing director for the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont, hopes the film can become an “entryway for discussion about the root causes” of increased algae growth in the lake.

“There has been a sense of frustration that we continue to spend a lot of money on lake-cleanup efforts that seem to be doing what’s politically feasible and not what’s economically or ecologically feasible.”

EXPERTS, CITIZENS

Academy Award-winning actor Chris Cooper narrates the film. Cooper has appeared in such films as “American Beauty,” “The Bourne Identity” and “Me, Myself and Irene.”

His narration is woven around quotes from several key players in Lake Champlain management, including University of Vermont professor Mary Watzin, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Justin Johnson and Eric Smeltzer from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

“We were also able to talk to various people on the front lines,” Erickson said of interviews with citizens involved in grassroots organizations that follow lake-related activities.

“It was important for us to get the voice of the everyday man and woman who are impacted by this every day of their lives.” But the true star is Lake Champlain itself, with video clips of a pristine lake overshadowed by dramatic glimpses of algae blooms dotting the water’s surface.

FARMING FAULTED

The film points a direct finger at agriculture, citing outdated farming techniques and a lack of support to assist farmers in utilizing eco-friendly farming practices.

“We took a hard look at dairy,” Erickson said. “Dairy seems to be this thing that has become a political football.

“It’s something our regulatory bodies don’t want to touch, but it is an area where tough decisions need to be made to transform the dairy industry into something that is both economically and ecologically viable.” Phosphorus, a nutrient that promotes plant growth, is often found in elevated levels in agricultural runoff. Decades of lake-related management activities have not helped to reduce phosphorus levels across the lake.

FOCUS ON VERMONT

Victor Guadagno, the film’s writer, director and producer, interviewed around 30 people over a six-day period, almost exclusively in Vermont.

“Vermont has been the larger part of the problem,” Erickson said. “They have the larger ag systems and the larger urban areas, but there has also been a lot of frustration from both New York and Quebec that Vermont isn’t doing its share.”

HOPING FOR CHANGE

Guadagno, who has won an Emmy for recent work he’s done with Vermont Public Television, believes the film will promote productive change in the Lake Champlain basin.

“It’s my goal to tell stories that will lead to the restoration of ecological systems and environmental improvement.

“Working in Vermont has given me an opportunity to work with a non-profit film company (Bright Blue Ecomedia) to tell stories that lead to positive solutions.” Although “Bloom” spends most of its time looking at problems facing Lake Champlain, both Erickson and Guadagno hope to continue the series with more solution-based information in the future.

HEATED DISCUSSION

The film premiered Monday night in Burlington before a packed house. A panel discussion followed that gave the filmmakers a sense that they had met their goals.

“This is the kind of film that is meant to raise discussion,” Guadagno said. “And that’s exactly what happened, discussion: heated, yet civilized. That’s how progress is made.”

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