Too often, people mistakenly accuse the Hudson River—America’s First River, the River That Flows Both Ways—of being dead.
It’s a somewhat understandable accusation, given the decades of horrific industrial and urban pollution combined with a fishery that took, took, took, with scant regard for the future. The truth is that thanks to efforts over the past thirty to forty years by some of the savviest environmental activists in the country, wildlife in the Hudson River is rebounding big-time.
Five years ago, my filmmaking team and I embarked on a mission to illustrate in short films a wide range of environmental risks still affecting the river, including the continued PCB pollution that has made the Hudson River America’s largest Superfund site, the leaky nuclear power plant at Indian Point on the verge of a shutdown, and the continued transport of crude oil up and down the river by train, barge, and pipeline.
We have also focused our cameras on some great news stories here in the Hudson Valley, including efforts to reintroduce Native American seeds on the verge of extinction; the experimentation with new breeds of organic wheat by local bakers, brewers, and distillers; the ongoing 50th anniversary celebrations of Clearwater, Riverkeeper, and Scenic Hudson; and the successful undamming of several of the big river’s tributaries, allowing ecosystems to return to their previous states.
For the past two years, with the help of the team at Riverkeeper, we have attempted to document the astonishing range of aquatic wildlife in the Hudson, from the incredible migration of tiny glass eels which arrive from the Sargasso Sea each spring to the giant, prehistoric sturgeon making a huge comeback (via sonar, 14-footers were spotted on the river floor last summer).
The new film, A Living River, has its premiere Thursday, August 15, at the Sloop Brewery in Fishkill. Tickets are still available. I’ll show it over the weekend, too, at Time & Space Ltd. in Hudson on Saturday, August 17, and at Rough Draft in Kingston on Sunday, August 18. Check out the full schedule at hudsonriverstories.com/screenings.
Jon Bowermaster is a writer, filmmaker, and ocean advocate. Follow his work at Oceans 8 Films, and tune in weekly to the Green Radio Hour on Radio Kingston.