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‘Eternal Vigilance’ showcases fight to protect and restore Estero Bay and its nine imperiled tributaries


Eternal Vigilance: Fighting to Restore the Estero Bay Tributaries is one of the environmentally-themed films that will be shown this year by the Fort Myers Film Festival. The 25-minute film showcases the imperiled status of Estero Bay and its nine tributaries and the people who have been working to preserve and restore these vital waterways over the last 30 years. The documentary was made possible by a grant from the Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership (CHNEP) and in partnership with Cat Chase Productions.

KC Schulberg played an instrumental role in the film’s development. Schulberg serves as the Executive Director of the Calusa Waterkeeper. His roots in the region date back to 1958 when, as a child, he watched his dad and uncle make the film Wind Across the Everglades in Chokoloskee, which captures the early days of the Audubon Society when wardens were sent down to Florida to stop the illegal killing of protected and endangered exotic birds for the fashion trade.

Schulberg’s lifelong avocation in film carried on a family tradition. His grandfather ran production at Paramount Pictures in the 1930s. KC’s uncle, Budd Schulberg, wrote On the Waterfront starring Marlon Brando. KC’s dad, Stuart, produced that film, and as a member of the Office of Stratetic Services (the OSS was the predecessor of the CIA) during World War II, he was assigned to produce a documentary about the trial of more than 20 high-level Nazi officials between November 20, 1945 and October of 1946. Titled Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, the film will be screened for the first time in the United States on the final day of this year’s FMFF.

Drawing on his lineage and experience in filmmaking, Schulberg helped Calusa Waterkeeper tell the story of the fight to protect Estero Bay the storm-fed runoff and releases from Lake Okeechobee that threaten the bay’s water quality and wildlife.

“Estero Bay was Florida’s first aquatic preserve. The bay and its nine tributaries are magnificent bodies of water that are now imperiled and need our help,” Schulberg told Florida Weekly last September. “Everything we do here in Southwest Florida is dependent on the quality of our waterways: our economy, our tourism, our recreation, and even our physical health.”

Under Schulberg, the Calusa Waterkeeper filed and won a lawsuit that has compelled a study of the impacts on threatened and endangered species caused by releases by the Army Corps of Engineers from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River and the Estero Bay estuaries.

Now in its 26th year, Calusa Waterkeeper is a Fort Myers-based 501(c) (3) organization whose mission is to protect the expansive region that includes the Caloosahatchee River and estuary, Lake Okeechobee, Nicodemus Slough in Glades County, Charlotte Harbor, Estero Bay and the near-shore waters and watersheds of Lee County, an area that encompasses more than 1,000 square miles. Its work includes testing and reporting, regulatory advisories, educational and community outreach and public advocacy.

CWK is a member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance, the largest and fastest growing nonprofit focused solely on clean water. With more than 300 Waterkeeper Organizations and Affiliates on the frontlines of the global water crisis, the Alliance patrols and protects more than 2.5 million square miles of rivers, lakes and coastal waterways on six continents.

Eternal Vigilance not only focuses on the relationship between Lake O releases and water quality in Estero Bay and its estuaries, it make the case for approaching development in a more considered and cautious manner that addresses upgrading infrastructure, including sewage pipes and stormwater retention systems already in place throughout Southwest Florida.

View trailer here.

Eternal Vigilance screens in the historic Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center on Friday, May 14 during Environment Block 1 which begins at 1:30 p.m. and also includes A Greenlander and Underwater Senses.

May 5, 2021.



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