The crew prepares to film an interview with Witte Museum Director Marisse McDermott. The museum sits right on the San Antonio River and is home to many historical artifacts featured in the film. Photo courtesy of SARA.

For many San Antonio residents, June is the month that kicks off summer. Lovers of the environment, though, may also know it as National Rivers Month, and a film festival this week will showcase just how far conservation efforts on rivers can go.

The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) is celebrating National Rivers Month with the inaugural Environmental Film Fest at the Santikos Bijou at 5 p.m. on June 19. The festival, in partnership with the South Yuba River Citizens League Annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival, will feature short films promoting topics such as nature, adventure, wildlife, environmental justice, and conservation. A full schedule for the admission-free festival can be found here.

“It’s an opportunity for the community to gain a deeper appreciation of the San Antonio River,” said Yviand Serbones, SARA community relations coordinator.

Featured films will include SARA’s award-winning “Sustaining and Enriching Life in South Texas:  the Story of the San Antonio River,” as well as other shorts, including “Cascada,” “Hidden Rivers of Southern Appalachia,” “My First Fish,” “Restoring Hope,” “Moonwalk (a segment of the National Geographic Documentary ‘Men Who Can Fly‘),” “Marshland Dreams,” “The Water Tower,” “I Am Red,” and “One Beach.”

All films were chosen from catalogs provided by the California-based South Yuba Citizens League.

Serbones explained that one of the goals of the film fest is to make people leave inspired and hope they will spread the word.

Not only will the evening offer inspirational films, but individuals can also learn about SARA, its sponsors and local environmental groups including Alamo Area Master NaturalistsAlamo Group of the Sierra Club, Bat Conservation International.

Access to the film fest is free of admission; however, seating is limited to the first 200 attendees.

Not only can guests celebrate National Rivers Month by watching inspirational films, but they’ll be encouraged to get out of their chairs and enjoy activities offered along the San Antonio River. Of course families are encouraged to look into paddling, hiking, biking, fishing (with a permit) year-round, but June is one of the best months to get out and explore before peak summer temperatures.

National Rivers Month is also a time to realize that despite progress made to preserve and restore the river, there will always be work to be done.

The Watershed and Parks Operation department of SARA reports nearly 25 tons of trash have been picked up on the river’s Mission Reach since July 2013. Items that could have been easily recycled, such as plastic bottles and containers, are unfortunately a majority of the trash found along the river. Although small items make up some of the trash found on the river, larger items such as furniture and tires have also been found during cleanups.

Volunteers fan out to collect trash along the San Antonio River during the 2013 Basura Bash. Photo courtesy Basura Bash.
Volunteers fan out to collect trash along the San Antonio River during the 2013 Basura Bash. Photo courtesy Basura Bash.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, not only is it extremely important to preserve our rivers but it is more important than ever to keep our watersheds healthy. A healthy watershed means saving money on repairing watersheds and an increase in outdoor recreation/tourism.

“We believe the more people who use and appreciate the river, the more they will want to take care of it,” Serbones said.

*Featured/top image: The film crew of “Sustaining and Enriching Life in South Texas” interview Marisse McDermott, president and CEO of the Witte Museum. The Witte, featured prominently in the documentary, sits on the bank of the San Antonio River. Photo courtesy SARA.

Related stories:

Documentary Showcases San Antonio’s ‘Green Solutions’ to ‘Water Blues’

San Antonio’s Big Bet on Public Art: Hemisfair Park and the San Antonio River

SARA Documentary Chronicles Story of the San Antonio River

Basura Bash: The Big San Antonio River Clean-Up

Fiesta on the San Antonio River’s ‘Garbage Reach’


Brooke Ramos

Brooke Ramos is a summer intern at the Rivard Report and attends Arizona State University with a major in journalism. She was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas.