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A Powerful Case Study in Human Cooperation
and Environmental Healing

A RIVER REBORN tells the story of the decommissioning of Arizona’s oldest hydroelectric dam and the restoration of a biologically critical watershed. Narrated by the actor Ted Danson, the documentary takes viewers behind the scenes of a 15-year struggle over the future of Fossil Creek and shows how conflicts between environmental advocates and a major utility were resolved in the interest of environmental protection and healing, with a significant assist from a group of scientists at Northern Arizona University.

The story is set against the broad reassessment of rivers and dams now occurring in the U.S. As a focal point for this reassessment, Fossil Creek reveals both challenges and opportunities associated with riparian restoration. The documentary also highlights the critical role of science in restoring native fish populations in Fossil Creek and in environmental restoration projects generally.

A notable feature of the story is that the decision to decommission the hydroelectric facilities at Fossil Creek was reached without litigation. Environmental organizations, state and federal resource management agencies, and Arizona Public Service reached a comprehensive agreement through constructive engagement. This “win-win” settlement provides a heartening example of the cooperative resolution of environmental disputes.

The documentary, along with supplemental educational materials, is a joint project of Northern Arizona University, the Museum of Northern Arizona, and Paul Bockhorst Productions. The copyright is held by Northern Arizona University. KAET Arizona Public Television is the broadcast partner in Arizona, with national public television distribution by NETA (the National Educational Telecommunications Association). The running time is 56:46.

A River Reborn: The Restoration of Fossil Creek was written, produced and directed by Paul Bockhorst. Ted Danson gave voice to the story. Douglas Crawford was the director of photography, and the original musical score was written by Paul Morehouse. Russell Colby edited the program. Stefan Sommer is the executive producer and institutional liaison for NAU.

Major funding was provided by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Heritage Program of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, with additional funding from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, the Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, and the Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona.

See Producer’s Notes
for Further Information about A River Reborn

Links to Related Sites

A River Reborn Project Website
Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research
Northern Arizona University

American Rivers
Washington, DC

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