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"My husband John and I decided to become sponsors of "The Apalachicola River, An American Treasure" because we believe education is the only hope we have of saving this grand river system from destruction. We have seen the dire results of excessive development and unwise use decisions across Florida and our nation. Irreplaceable eco-systems, their function and beauty, are lost not to malicious intentions but because of short-sighted decisions based on faulty economic considerations.

"The preservation of the natural integrity of the Apalachicola River system is the best way to safeguard the property values, jobs and quality of life for all the human residents along its shores. Conservation and nurture of the dynamic bio-diversity, the plants and wildlife found within its boundaries, is a gift to future generations of Americans. And that is the worthy goal we hope to help accomplish."
-- -- Helen Spohrer, Owner of Prudential Resort Realty:
There are great places to film in Florida that are spectacular, but the Apalachicola River and its tributaries are elusive and not well understood. There is a quiet serenity on the river, but an untamed and mysterious side in the back-waters of the river. The abundance of textures and shapes, spectrums of light, change of seasons, levels of water, combined with the collection of species that are unique to this area creates a filmmakers delight. Having the opportunity to capture images of nature in the region I call home, and to share those images with others has put a smile on my face and satisfaction in my soul.”
-- Elam Stoltzfus, Executive Producer/Cinematographer
Apalachicola. The word rolls off your tongue, evoking images of something complex, mysterious, ancient, and timeless.

The Apalachicola River is all of those things. The headwaters of this river are in north Georgia, along the Appalachian Trail. It flows south through rural northwest Florida into the Gulf of Mexico.

Local filmmaker Elam Stoltzfus specializes in nature film documentaries and has produced several award-winning films. His last PBS special, Living Waters: Aquatic Preserves of Florida took him across the state where he filmed stories about twelve aquatic preserves. During his travels he realized there was an untold story in his own back yard: a story about the “big river”, which is what local people call the Apalachicola River. Stoltzfus had a vision of a unique collaboration of ideas that would showcase film, art, science, politics, and nature; and that would also include stories of life, love, and loss throughout history into the present time.

The idea grew and “Apalachicola River: An American Treasure” is a memoir of sorts: it is the photographic story of the history of Native Americans and other settlers whose descendants still live in northwest Florida; it is the story of people who make their living from the river; it is the story of politics and water wars between Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. It showcases the haunting beauty of rarely seen places like the River Styx, Dead Lakes, Kennedy Creek, Chipola River and Tate’s Hell.

Elam Stoltzfus hired several native Floridians to flesh out the film. Scriptwriter Jane Atkins is a direct descendent of early settlers and Native Americans. Atkins has twenty years experience as a scriptwriter. Sammy Tedder, of Sopchoppy, Florida is the composer of original music scored for this film. River cane reeds from the banks of the Apalachicola River are handcrafted into musical instruments by Tedder to create ethereal harmonies that accompany the stunning cinematography. Guest artists include photojournalist Richard Bickel of Apalachicola and fine art landscape photographer Clyde Butcher of Ochopee. Special appearances are made by other local artists and personalities.

Images will be documented by fine art landscape photographer Clyde Butcher and photojournalist Richard Bickel will be published into coffee-table books featuring the people and places along the Apalachicola River Basin. Clyde Butcher has been called the “Ansel Adams of Florida” for his striking and bold black and white images profiling the everglades and southern Florida. Richard Bickel has done extensive photography on the locals that live and work in the Apalachicola River and Bay. Included will be quotes from the film interviews and similar images that correlate with the film documentary.

Traveling museum exhibit managed by the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science in Tallahassee featuring the collection of 70 to 100 images by Clyde Butcher and Richard Bickel, a large TV screen plasma placement of the film documentary, and panels featuring Sammy Tedder’s design of the river cane flutes. Primary target areas include Florida, Georgia and Alabama.


“Florida’s interest has always been to preserve and protect the river and the bay.  We have always viewed those two as being really just one water body as opposed to two; the river and the bay.  They are intricately linked together. The bay is very, very dependent on the river.”
-- Douglas E. Barr, Executive Director of Northwest Florida Water Management District, Havana, Florida

“I think people in general are drawn to waterways. I’ve been on different rivers, but this one is different; they’re all different.  This one is..…you just have to experience it to understand it.  It’s mystical; something about it, you know. It’s like it’s alive." 
--Marilyn Blackwell , environmental activist,  Wewahitchka, Florida

"Florida's quality of life revolves around our waterways, whether it's the rivers, the beach, the lakes, swamps, all of the waters are important to each individuals quality of life, the fishing, the boating, just the spiritual experience of sitting by the water and its calming effects and being away from everyday life and it just takes you away."
-- Colleen Castille, Secretary, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

“Its serenity, I go there and just sit there and look out over the water, you try to figure out what moves to make next and how to do whatever and when, so its a consolation to me and I'm sure to other people in uncertain times.”
-- Geraldine Sheard, Pastor, Prayer Chainers Mission of God, Hugh Creek, Florida

“The final thirty miles landing of the river is a delta of innumerable serpentine tributaries and wetland beauty.  At the terminus is the gulf port town of Apalachicola, home to some of America’s most fascinating history and personalities, and the world class oysters of Apalachicola Bay.”
-- Florida Senator Bob Graham

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John & Helen Spohrer
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Images from the Premiere Event at the Mary Brogan Museum of Arts and Science March 31, 2006.

Houston International Film Festival - Ecology/Environment/Conservation 2006

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Florida Choice Award 2006 - Tampa Independent Film Festival

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Louis Wolfson II Film & Video Award
Honorable Mention 2006

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2006 Napa - Sonoma Wine Country Film Festival AWARDS

Best Short Documentary - Eco Cinema GAIA Award

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Recipient of a Gold Award for Original Music and a Gold Award for Cinematography.

2006 Suncoast Regional
Emmy Awards Nominee


Composition/Arrangement
Apalachicola River: An American Treasure
Sammy Tedder
Live Oak Production Group, Inc.

Award for Standard of Excellence

"Apalachicola River: An American Treasure" received an Honorable Mention for Conservation Message at the International Wildlife Film Festival, Missoula, Montana
Jane Atkins