Virtual film festival will address environmental concerns, celebrates nature | Woodmen Edition

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Now in its 18th year, the upcoming Virtual Wild & Scenic Film Festival will combine entertainment and education in a virtual form.

Co-hosted by Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District and the Trails and Open Space Coalition, the virtual event is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Dec. 3.

The festival will feature an international collection of films from the annual festival held the third week in January in Nevada City, Calif. The South Yuba River Citizens League, a watershed advocacy group, started the film festival in 2003. More than 230 events are now held worldwide, including the film festival in Colorado Springs.

So what is the event, themed “Where Activism Gets Inspired,” all about?

“These films are about communities around the world that understand the value of waterways,” said Alli Schuch, watershed outreach coordinator with Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.

The festival’s 10 short films range in length from 1-26 minutes, an international collection addressing ongoing, environmental concerns while inspiring communities to take an active role in improving resources and celebrating nature.

The water district and Trails and Open Space Coalition are continually involved in the type of work revealed in the films, including watershed health education, project development, providing recreational opportunities, and as informational resources

One film, “There’s Something in the Water,” focuses on controlling an aggressive, invasive aquatic weed called giant salvinia. The communities around Lake Caddo, located between Texas and Louisiana, have been impacted due to a reduction in native aquatic life including fish, leading to reduced tourism and recreation. The community is currently working on a biological remedy to remove the invasive species, as half the lake has already been impacted.

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One local example of watershed management is at Sondermann Park on the west side of Colorado Springs. Non-native trees such as Siberian elm, Russian olive and green ash were likely introduced by early settlers. Ongoing removal of these trees is in process as native species have been gradually choked out. Students from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs are doing a study in partnership with the city to explore how the gradual emergence of native species will affect the health of the forest long-term. The hypothesis is that dormant seeds will emerge as more light is available, leading to increased biological diversity of birds, insects and pollinators, as well as providing a safe corridor for wildlife.

Schuch emphasizes the common thread in the films regarding the value of community involvement in a healthier watershed. “One idea can really make a big difference. Communities come together through that idea with participation by government, nonprofits, neighborhoods and service clubs. We strive to engage all members of our communities in the work we do.”

The hope is that the film festival will inspire actions locally.

Funds raised will be used for education and outreach efforts. Three projects currently in process are:

• Creek Week Clean-up, to be held in September 2021. This is a watershed-wide litter and debris collection supported by volunteers. The goal is to not only raise awareness about the Fountain Creek Watershed, but to also make the community cleaner, safer and more beautiful.

• Fountain Creek Brewshed Alliance is a partnership of 25 breweries working to promote clean water, as the primary ingredient in beer is water. The alliance’s goal is to engage citizens in conversations and actions that will lead to water protection and enhancement.

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• Additional recreational programs.

Tickets to the Virtual Wild & Scenic Film Festival are available at fountain-crk.org, and trailsandopenspaces.org. Factsheets about watershed health are available, along with ideas for involvement and participation to improve the environment, on both websites.

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