Monday, February 15, 2010

California's Environmental Legacy

From coastal erosion to invasive plants to disappearing species, it’s easy for me to conjure up images of environmental change in California. But it’s not often that I think about that change in the context of deep time, or geologic time. While human history is but a hair on the geologic time clock, our species has been remarkably successful at rapidly transforming our environment.

An exciting new project explores environmental change in California over the past two billion years, as well as the fundamental nature of our relationship to that change – both presently and into the future. The California Environmental Legacy Project is a multi-institutional, multi-platform endeavor bringing together a wide range of scientists, educators, and media professionals to promote public understanding about environmental change in California and our place in this changing world.

Humboldt State University and Sacramento State are founding partners of the Legacy Project, which recently received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to produce several key pieces intended to engage Californians in an exploration of environmental change. The centerpiece is a four-episode PBS documentary (for national broadcast in 2012) which will take viewers on a two billion year journey through our state and into a possible future landscape.

A second component, the Changing Places Initiative, will bring this exploration to five regions in the state. Short films, podcasts, and other media are in production for distribution in our parks, museums, and science centers. These regions include:
- Point Reyes Peninsula
- Los Angeles Basin/Baldwin Hills
- Anza Borrego Desert
- Redwood Forests
- Lassen Volcano

And attention teachers… there’s a piece of this project intended just for you and your students’ use. The online Education Portal will engage users with opportunities for streaming media and accessing materials and resources. This will be a place to share ideas and continue the discussion with students and teachers from across the state. Lastly, the K-12 school programs will provide teachers with professional options to enhance learning experiences for their students.

The Legacy Project will help make understanding California’s changing environment accessible, digestible, and maybe most importantly, meaningful for a wide range of audiences, including television viewers, students, park visitors, and online users. Keep an eye out as phases of this exciting project are released over the next two years.

Learn more about the Legacy Project at