There had to be more to the Cuyahoga River, reasoned environmentalist Ryan Rodriguez, than its legacy of catching fire almost 40 years ago from a wealth of pollution, making it the butt of countless jokes on late-night TV.
So, three summers ago, the Cleveland Heights resident and pals Jonathan Shick and Robert Ryan Weibush set out to explore every facet of the 102-mile-long waterway that winds from Lake Erie to the wetlands near Burton. The trio’s resulting documentary, “Walking the River,” chronicles their 12-day sojourn by kayak and on foot. It airs on PBS stations next month (check local times for listings).
“Our purpose in making the film was not only to entertain, but to educate people about what’s right in our own back yard,” Rodriguez explains.
The filmmakers magnificently capture the vistas that dot the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, and provide glimpses of the deer, blue heron and beaver that populate the water.
And, true to their mission, they also explain the river’s untethered industrial past that led to passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, and document the role wastewater treatment plays in the Cuyahoga’s health.
“It was uplifting,” Rodriguez says, “to see how many people recognize the importance of the river.”
For more information about the film, visit www.blueholeproductions.org