Local film brings awareness to Kern River ecology

By Jake Lee Green
Kern Valley Sun

Executive Director and Founder of the Kern River Conservancy Gary Ananian spoke to the Kern Valley Sun about the organization’s project in process. For the last couple of years, the organization has been working on a documentary highlighting the importance of introducing native trout back into the ecology of the Kern River and bringing about awareness of issues facing the river.

The Kern River, formerly known as the Rio de San Filipe, is approximately 165 miles long and is fed from snow pacts that blanket the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains near Mount Whitney. The Kern River flows through a glacier-carved valley and passes through Inyo and Sequoia National Forests, as well as, the Golden Trout Wilderness.

When asked about the inspiration for the development of the Kern River Rainbow Project documentary he said, “My inspiration came from seeing how much impact digital media had on the public. I was always inspired every time I saw a video of another river organization issuing a call to action to their conservation campaigns. Seeing that the Upper Kern Fisheries Enhancement project was fizzling out, the Kern River Conservancy got involved and decided to introduce a film regarding the importance of this project.”

The financing for the film came from a grant through the Kern Community Foundation (KCF) whose website boasts their mission statement. “Kern Community Foundation‘s Mission is powerfully simple: Growing Community. Growing Philanthropy. We are in the business of helping people support the causes they care about most. We connect generous donors – individuals, families and businesses – to energized community members and organizations, matching their charitable interests with our community’s needs.” The KCF has been a major player in financing non-profit organizations and their programs within Kern County, including financing 100 percent of the documentary Ananian has developed.
Ananian states he would like the impact of the film to rally its viewers around charity to the river. “I expect viewers to respond to the ‘call to action’ in many ways such as becoming a volunteer or donating to the project to help us move into a direction of success and help re-introduce native trout back to the Kern River.”

In addition, Ananian believes the KRV also benefits greatly from the local hatchery operation that stocks the Kern River and Lake Isabella. Since the KRV is such a destination spot for fishing on the lake and the river, a lack of fishing would be detrimental to the local economy. Which, in the past, business owners have seen first-hand when the lake and river levels have been low. This documentary will highlight the work done by these agencies in introducing the fish back into its native habitat.

“I began developing a script and agenda for this film once we had been funded in late 2018 and we started filming in August of 2019 as water levels in the River were too high for fly fishing. We have been all over California to film this project. From Kernville to Sacramento to Bishop. We currently are in post-production and hope to finish by March,” states Ananian.

His personal experience in conservation has fueled much of his desire in pushing forward with the production process and the narrative tone of the film. “I’ve been empowered by the fact that the conservation of our Wild and Scenic River and native trout has been ignored and neglected for so many years and that drives my motivation to get our local community engaged in these projects and help bring a solution to these problems while growing our capacity within the Kern River Valley,” said Ananian.

Screening times and locations for the film will be announced as production begins to wrap up. As March approaches be sure to look for details surrounding the work the Kern River Conservancy has been doing for the Kern River Valley.

For more information on the work the Kern River Conservancy is doing in the area, please visit kernriverconservancy.com, their Facebook page, or reach them by phone at (760) 549-9470.