April 22: Coastal Zone Act

Documentary on Delaware's Coastal Zone Act to air on WHYY

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1:02 p.m., April 18, 2012--The documentary film An Evolving Legacy: Delaware's Coastal Zone Act, produced by a University of Delaware supplemental faculty member with the assistance of UD students, will be shown at 3 p.m., Sunday, April 22, on WHYY-TV Channel 12.

The documentary was the result of a chance meeting between the late Russell W. Peterson, former governor of Delaware, and Michael F. Oates, supplemental faculty in UD's Department of Geography.

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That meeting grew into a friendship and a desire to preserve the story of the Coastal Zone Act, which changed the future of Delaware’s shoreline and served as an inspiration to countries around the world.

Oates’ vision of training up students in videography and digital storytelling led him to have UD undergraduate and graduate students work on all aspects of production in creating the enlightening video.

This event took place 40 years ago when Delaware’s landmark Coastal Zone Act preserved the state’s shoreline, making it off-limits to heavy industrial development. The battle to pass the visionary legislation transformed local environmental awareness into sweeping statewide action, challenging other states and the nation to do the same.

At the time, The New York Times commented, “…forty-nine other states, including New York, can learn something from this exceptionally perceptive action by Gov. Peterson and his responsive legislature.”

The act’s legacy still poses questions that are as complex as the ecosystem it continues to protect.

Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act; An Evolving Legacy recounts the legislation's origins, its history to date and the ongoing challenge of balancing industrial development with environmental preservation.

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