“The People’s Forest” Film Competes at N.H. Film Festival: Documentary Details Creation of White Mountain National Forest

October 3rd, 2013 by blyndes

Smoke rises from large forest fires in the Pemigewassett valley, 1907. Logging camp buildings are in the foreground. Courtesy of White Mountain National Forest.

PLYMOUTH, N.H.–– A documentary film about the creation of America’s national forests is competing at the New Hampshire Film Festival in Portsmouth Oct. 17-20. “The People’s Forest: The Story of the White Mountain National Forest,” was produced by David Huntley of Moore-Huntley productions, and focuses on the mix of man-made disasters, colorful characters, citizen activism and political courage that brought about the protection of our National Forests and Grasslands through the Weeks Act of 1911. Plymouth State University collaborated with Huntley on the creation of the 48-minute documentary. PSU Vice Provost for Research and Engagement Dr. Thad Guldbrandsen said the film offers a fascinating glimpse of how our national forests in the eastern United States were created and protected.

“This documentary of the Weeks Act is a remarkable piece of work,” Guldbrandsen said.  “We are fortunate to have worked with David Huntley, a world-class film maker with roots in the White Mountains.”

As the film illustrates, events in New Hampshire’s North Country at the turn of the twentieth century had effects far beyond the White Mountains, including severe flooding of the Pemigewasset, Merrimack, in 1895 and 1896. These floods forced the closing of mills and other factories that depended on waterways like the Merrimack River for hydroelectric power. Thousands of people were out of work and many blamed the flooding on the impact of deforestation in the White Mountains. Citizens began to realize the connections among natural systems such as forests, watershed and rivers.

Standing in the way of Weeks’ Bill was a bitterly-divided Congress which had debated similar conservation legislation in previous sessions. What was new was an unlikely alliance of citizen groups, conservationists and business leaders from urban areas south of the White Mountains. The film shows the Weeks Act’s enduring impact on the landscape of New Hampshire and the United States. In the century since its passage, more than fifty-two national forests and grasslands in forty-one states – more than twenty million acres – are now protected.

“While the dramatic chain of events depicted in the program took place well over a century ago,” Huntley says,” the people involved and issues they confronted still crackle with unmistakable life and meaning.”

For “The People’s Forest,” Huntley collaborated with Plymouth State University’s Center for Rural Partnerships and The Museum of the White Mountains.

Founded in 2001, the New Hampshire Film Festival (NHFF) has grown to be a recognized and viable venue for showcasing quality filmmaking. Over its four-day run, nearly 10,000 people are expected to attend film screenings, workshops and panel discussions.

“The People’s Forest” will be competing in the Festival’s New Hampshire Program category, comprised of productions featuring Granite State filmmakers, writers, actors and producers.

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or blyndes@plymouth.edu

 

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