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Fonda to narrate documentary films on California’s changing environment

Academy Award-winning actress Jane Fonda has joined a California team of scientists, educators and media producers working to create inspirational stories about the state’s changing natural environment.

Fonda will narrate a two-hour PBS documentary and a companion set of short films that will reach millions of television viewers and visitors at state and national parks throughout California.

The productions are part of the California Environmental Legacy Project, a nonpartisan educational initiative that combines artful storytelling and state-of-the-art digital media to raise awareness and understanding about our changing natural environment.

Jim Baxter of Davis is an executive producer of the Legacy Project, which counts UC Davis’ Eldridge Moores, Michael Barbour and Jeffrey Mount as project advisers. Cheryl Smith, retired assistant director of the John Muir Institute at UCD, also served as an adviser, Baxter said.

“These films are important and beautifully told stories about California’s natural heritage and how — if we work together — we can build a new and more sustainable partnership with nature,” Fonda said. “We’ve changed California’s natural environment in so many ways that it’s putting us at risk. We need to find a solution, a balance between nature and civilization. The Legacy Project is working to do just that.”

Added Fonda, “I was inspired to narrate the Legacy Project’s films because of my deep connection to California and my profound concern for its future. It is incredibly important that we preserve our natural heritage for future generations.”

With original music by legendary musician Pat Metheny, these programs will be the first to tell the grand story of environmental change in California, from colliding tectonic plates, to the community of life, human exploitation, coexistence and more.

The PBS documentary, “Becoming California,” illuminates humans’ relationship with California’s environment and explores how nature and civilization can better coexist. The documentary is targeted for broadcast in spring 2014 on public television stations throughout California.

The short films explore environmental change at the bioregional level, including at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Los Angeles, Point Reyes National Seashore, Lassen Volcanic National Park and Redwood state and national parks. The films will begin screening at park visitor centers this fall.

“We are delighted that Jane Fonda will narrate these exciting programs,” said Baxter, a biology professor at Sacramento State. “Her nuanced and deeply moving voice brings extraordinary emotion and power to the story of California’s ever-changing environment.”

Funded in part by the National Science Foundation, the Legacy Project also will provide online access to high-quality videos, 3D animations, images, maps and more that tell the story of the state from its origins to the present day and beyond. Media resources for teachers and students are also being developed.

Collaborators on the project include California State Parks, the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. Sacramento State is the lead institution, along with Humboldt State University.

Learn more about the work of the California Environmental Legacy Project at www.calegacy.org.

Special to The Enterprise

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