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The story of a legendary environmental victory with

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011


Four-hour documentary narrated by Robert Redford-- Airs on WTVP Wednesdays, April 20 & 27
and May 4 & 11 at 10pm

As the nation recovers from the largest offshore oil spill in its history, patchwork levee systems continue to fail, and news of garbage patches in our oceans stress the dangers of pollution, protecting America’s waterways has never been more critical. Damage to local beaches, wetlands, and estuaries can have far-reaching consequences, but history shows they can also be saved. Saving the Bay explores the storied history of San Francisco Bay with four one-hour episodes tracing the Bay from its geologic origins following the last Ice Age, through years of catastrophic exploitation, to the restoration efforts of today. Narrated by famed actor and environmentalist Robert Redford, the award-winning Saving the Bay premieres Wednesdays, April 20 & 27 and May 4 & 11 at 9 p.m.

“From the Gold Rush to the Golden Gate Bridge, and through World’s Fairs and World Wars, San Francisco Bay has been central to the identity of one of the world’s leading economic, academic, recreational, and cultural regions. Saving the Bay is the first television program to tell the story of the San Francisco Bay and the people who have shaped and reshaped it; from native inhabitants to those who now seek to restore balance to a fabled estuary in the midst of one of the nation’s largest and most vibrant urban centers.

Widely acclaimed as one of the world’s most beautiful natural harbors, San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast of both North and South America. It is also the most invaded aquatic ecosystem in North America. Saving the Bay details how the Bay was almost lost to landfill schemes ranging from the daring to the deranged, and celebrates the more recent restoration and expansion of this once threatened treasure.

Without the activism of the grassroots Save The Bay organization and the efforts of the budding environmentalist movement, the damage to the Bay, the Bay Area, and beyond would have been enormous. Without San Francisco Bay, the climate would change, beloved views would be drastically altered, the economy would be different, and the ecosystem would be irreparably damaged. Saving the Bay offers an inspirational history of how the efforts of a few forward-thinking individuals helped to save the centerpiece of an area home to millions.

The four one-hour episodes of Saving the Bay are:

  • Marvel of Nature (Prehistory - 1848)
    In the first episode, photo-realistic animation illustrates the formation of the Bay following the last Ice Age. This hour introduces the first inhabitants along the Bay’s shores, including Native Peoples along with flora and fauna, and continues through European exploration and settlement, including Spanish, Russian and ultimately, American influences that dramatically altered the region.

  • Harbor of Harbors (1849 - 1906)
    The second hour follows San Francisco’s “rapid monstrous maturity” into a major metropolis following the California Gold Rush. Establishing the infrastructure to support the instant city meant radical change for San Francisco Bay. By the century’s end, San Francisco Bay was the center of a broad economic empire on the Pacific.

  • Miracle Workers (1906 - 1959)
    The third hour of the series begins with The Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, which accelerated the dispersion of people and industry to the East Bay region. Advances in engineering gave rise to the first of California’s massive water re-distribution projects, paralleling the era of great bridge building. World War II saw the Bay transformed into the greatest shipbuilding center the world had ever known.

  • Bay in the Balance (1960 - Present)
    In the final episode, the very survival of the Bay is threatened by the post-war boom. Viewers are introduced to the leaders of the Save The Bay campaign of the 1960s and the birth of the national mass environmental movement. As the Bay Area looks to the future, the issue becomes how best to balance the competing demands of a major urban center set amidst an environmentally significant landscape.


KQED Education has produced extensive learning materials for Saving the Bay. Twenty-six video segments were selected from Saving the Bay that correlate with California content standards in science and history/social science for grades 4 – 12. The twenty viewing guides that accompany the video segments offer questions, activities, ideas, and resources for teachers and educators to use with students in both formal and informal settings. A series Educator Guide provides information on the video segments and viewing guides, as well as thematic discussion questions and resources to use with all four hours of the film.

Saving the Bay is a co-production of Ron Blatman and KQED/KTEH Public Television. The film won Northern California Emmy Awards in 2010 in each category it was nominated in: best documentary, best editing, best graphic arts, and best photography.

Production funding provided by Bay Area Toll Authority/Metropolitan Transportation Commission, California State Coastal Conservancy, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, Ambassador Bill and Jean Lane Fund, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Sonoma County Water Agency, and others.





For further information contact Linda Miller, WTVP Vice President of Programming, at (309) 495-0591 or linda.miller@wtvp.org



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