Earth Focus

Saving the Rivers of the American West

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The Willamette River has some big problems, but it's also the focus of one of the most creative and ambitious watershed restorations efforts ever undertaken. "Earth Focus" speaks with Jeremy Monroe about his film "Willamette Futures," which documents the effort to restore the watersheds of Oregon's largest river system.

Meanwhile, Thea Mercouffer's film "Rock the Boat" focuses on satirist George Wolfe's act of civil disobedience: leading a kayaking expedition down the cemented Los Angeles River. The expedition was meant to urge EPA to declare the river navigable so that it could gain protection under the Clean Water Act. The boating trip became a political movement that led to changes in federal policy and opened up public access to a long-neglected waterway.

The Colorado River is the most dammed and diverted river in the world. It struggles to support 30 million people across the western United States and Mexico. James Redford and Mark Decena talk about their film "Watershed: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West," which looks at how we balance the competing interests of cities, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, and indigenous communities with rights to the water.