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Saving Bolsa Chica

Documentary film highlights the triumphs of conservation effort

Attendees at the screening of the documentary “Saving Bolsa Chica” had the chance to learn more about the wetlands during a reception that followed.

Footage of a brown pelican skimming the ocean’s pink surface at sunrise is one of many breathtaking moments captured in “Saving The Bolsa Chica Wetlands,” a documentary by Rita Baghdadi and Jeremiah Hammerling from Endless Eye Production Company. With only ten-percent of California’s coastal wetlands remaining, the Bolsa Chica is still home to hundreds of protected wildlife species thanks to the Amigos de Bolsa Chica, a group of community leaders who saved the wetlands from commercial development in 1980.


Fans, friends, and followers of the Amigos gathered at the Huntington Beach Public Library Theater on Saturday, Feb. 26 for the documentary’s premiere, a panel discussion, and wine and cheese reception. 

“We’re really passionate about bridging metropolitan life with getting outdoors,” Hammerling said in a post-panel interview.

Founding members of the Amigos de Bolsa Chica shared on-camera testimonies about the federal fight for 1,200 precious acres of wetland, which is still the biggest land purchase in California State history. “At the time, we were called communists and self-appointed environmentalists,” Shirley Dettloff, former mayor of Huntington Beach and past president of the Amigos, recalled, laughing. “We proved we could stand up against anyone in the halls of the state legislator.”

Students from Tom Pfizer’s marine biology class at Segerstrom High School represented the next generation of Amigos and activists at the premiere. “I’m delighted to see such young interest,” Detloff remarked at the reception. Attendees of all ages toasted to 40 years of the Amigos de Bolsa Chica, the lifeline to one of Orange County’s most invaluable natural resources. As their current president, Jerry Donahue, put it, “This is our cathedral.”

For more information on hosting a documentary screening and panel discussion, please contact info@amigosdebolsachica.org.

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