Bayou Bartholomew, a one-hour documentary hosted by Chuck Dovish, will premiere on the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) Thursday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m.
Originating near Pine Bluff, Bayou Bartholomew has the unique distinction of being the longest bayou in the world. It stretches 359 miles before emptying in the Ouachita River near Sterlington, La. Bayou Bartholomew is not only a wonder of nature, but also a national treasure. Its one of most diverse stream in North America, containing 117 species of fish and 197 species of birds.
The purpose of this documentary is to enlighten people about Bayou Bartholomew's importance from a historical standpoint and a conservationist point of view, Dovish said. Louisiana's 90-mile section has been designated as a Wild and Scenic River, but in Arkansas that's not the case because of the poor water quality.
The documentary will not only explain the history of the bayou dating back 3,000 years, but it will also reveal how its been long overlooked for its contribution in developing the heart of the Delta and neglected in American history. People who have lived all their lives along the bayou, in both Arkansas and Louisiana, will also share their stories dating back to the steamboat era on the bayou.
The bayou was the place to be, and people up and down it from Pine Bluff to Sterlington, La., who lived along it have a deep appreciation and love for it, Rebecca DeArmond-Huskey, author of Bartholomews Song: A Bayou History, said.
Dr. Curtis Merrell of Monticello, president of the Bayou Bartholomew Alliance who since the mid 1990s has been trying to save the bayou in Arkansas and get it the state protection status that Louisiana has achieved, is responsible for starting the movement and fundraising that led to the production of the documentary.
We want to tell the people of Arkansas first, and then the nation, and then the world about this magnificent stream and the history of it, Merrell said.
Bayou Bartholomew is sponsored by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.