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Environment

Documentary Highlighting 'Save USF Forest Preserve' Grassroots Campaign Debuts Tuesday

As USF reviews development proposals for a wooded preserve and golf course on the northern edge of the Tampa campus, a recent fine arts graduate is releasing a short film about student activists who are working to save the parcel of land.

A new documentary follows University of South Florida biologists as they fight to protect a 769-acre preserve and golf course from development. The short film premieres 8pm Tuesday at New World Brewery in Tampa.

"We wana highlight just how fragile this space is, and how narrow this corridor is and how important it is too for Tampa Bay and the state of Florida," said USF biology grad student Jeannie Mounger in the documentary trailer.

Mounger helped create the grassroots campaign "Save USF Forest Preserve."

She and two other student organizers, Stephen Hesterberg and Christian Brown, are being highlighted by Luke Myers who directed and produced the short film.

A close-up of Luke Myers wearing black-framed glasses and sporting a trimmed beard. He's slightly smiling with greenery in the background.
Luke Myers
Luke Myers, 33, recently graduated from USF with a Master of Fine Arts degree. His documentary Choke Point, the first work of his career, will debut Tuesday night to a sold out crowd at New World Brewery in Tampa.

Myers recently graduated from USF with a Master of Fine Arts degree.

The film called Choke Point takes viewers on a trek through the USF Forest Preserve off Fletcher Avenue in Tampa, using a wildlife corridor to show how vital the trail is to the animals.

“Because of development north and south of here, this property is like the only property that wildlife can use if they're moving through those areas, and so that's where the title comes from also because the land functions as sort of like a choke point that funnels all the animals through,” said Myers.

The 33-year-old said he hopes his documentary angers viewers because Myers, himself, finds it really upsetting that the university is considering developing the USF Forest Preserve, which is home to threatened and endangered species, and is also used as a natural classroom by biology students.

"I hope that everyone that has any connection to USF, I hope it like changes their relationship to USF by seeing it, like whether they are disappointed in their own institution, or shocked, or maybe they're not surprised at all,” he said. “I hope it motivates people to call the president out and… not allow this to go forward."

Myers explained why this first official project of his career is important to him:

"I'm in the same boat that… most people in Tampa Bay are in, whether they know it or not, which is that we're all like stakeholders of this property because this land filters the water that goes into the Hillsborough River that we all drink,” he said. “Developing this land would like directly affect our water quality."

Tuesday's debut event is sold out with about 60 people expected to attend, but the 12-minute documentary will be available on YouTube after the premiere.

A poster saying "The Premiere of Choke Point a documentary short film by Luke Myers Tuesday, June 8th at 8pm Hosted by New World Brewery." The words are all white except for "Choke Point," which is orange. The words are laid on top of a photo of trees and a waterbody from the USF Forest Preserve.
Jeannie Mounger
The premiere event Tuesday is sold out, but the film will be available to the public on YouTube after the debut.

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