On Thursday, November 16th, 2023 at Seacrets Morley Hall in Ocean City, MD, the Assateague Coastal Trust will be holding their Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour Event featuring Environmental and Adventure Films on the big screen, Auctions and Raffles – Plus Food & Drink Options.
Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT) was first established as The Committee to Preserve Assateague Island in Berlin, Maryland. The catalyst for the creation of this all-volunteer, grassroots group was the introduction of legislation that established Assateague Island National Seashore, including a provision that would have allowed a significant portion of the island to be developed as a resort, destroying the unspoiled beauty of the island. The Committee fought to eliminate that provision, and the island’s pristine landscape today is a testament to its success and the crucible for ACT’s ongoing commitment to protecting our coastal environment. While their name has changed, Assateague Coastal Trust has stayed true to their founders’ legacy of fighting to protect our coastal landscape and waterscape. Over time, their vision has expanded and their membership has grown. Now they work to protect not only Assateague Island but the entire Atlantic Coastal Bays watershed and the surrounding Lower Shore region.
In 2002, ACT strengthened its capacity to watch over the Coastal Bays watershed of Maryland and Virginia’s Eastern Shore by joining the Waterkeeper Alliance and launching the Assateague Coastkeeper program. In 2003, ACT enhanced the education component of our mission with the creation of our Coast Kids program to provide environmental education and interactive nature experiences for area youth and their families. Offering monthly membership events and excursions around the region, a “Little Scientists” series for schools and community-based organizations, and most recently a “Nature Explorers” summer camp, Coast Kids allows ACT to educate and engage our next generation of environmental stewards. In 2009, ACT launched the Grow Berlin Green program to support and facilitate environmentally sustainable policies and practices in Berlin, Maryland. Working in partnership with the town government, businesses, schools, and citizens, Grow Berlin Green-led projects in the community were instrumental in Berlin being the first municipality in the state of Maryland to be certified as a sustainable community by the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center.
In recent years, ACT has continued to introduce new programs and campaigns responding to emerging challenges and opportunities in their coastal region. In 2010, the Coastkeeper launched the Swim Guide water quality monitoring program to measure bacteria levels in some of the most heavily recreated areas of the Coastal Bays and report to the public on where and when it was safe to go in the water during the busy summer season. In 2015-2016, ACT led the local campaign of the successful effort to thwart the federal government’s proposal to open the Atlantic coastal waters to offshore oil exploration and drilling. Finally, since 2015, ACT has been the driving force in the ongoing campaign to oppose and mitigate the environmental and public health impacts of a dramatic expansion of industrial-scale poultry operations on the Lower Eastern Shore.
The Assateague Coastal Trust has been producing a Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour Event for the past 13 years. According to Verena Chase, ACT’s Coast Kids Program Director, “The film fest is a great way for ACT to connect to our friends, supporters, and local businesses while celebrating clean water, nature, outdoor adventure, and inspiring stories. Wild and Scenic is our biggest annual fundraising event.”
When asked what her favorite part of hosting a Wild & Scenic Film Festival is, Verena replied, “After all the hard work of reviewing films, securing sponsorships, soliciting auction donations, promotion, and ticket sales, we love to see all attendees come and have a great time! People cheer for their favorite movies, enjoy seeing friends, and browse the silent auction aisle. For us, it’s the perfect way to end a busy summer and fall season.”