The Natural State of America
Written and produced by Brian Campbell (2010)
The Natural State of America is an inspiring documentary about an unlikely group of Arkansas environmental activists who take on their rural electric cooperative for spraying toxic herbicide in the Ozark highlands.
The Newton County Wildlife Association (NCWA) was first formed back in the 1970s, when they took on the US Forest Service over their plan to spray Agent Orange to destroy hardwood Ozark forest to benefit private timber interests seeking to replace it with quick growing pine.
Their success in obtaining a court injunction against the Forest Service inspired environmental activists in Washington and Oregon to undertake similar campaigns – resulting in an ban on domestic Agent Orange use in 1978.
A few years later the NWCA blocked the Army Corps of Engineers from damming the Buffalo River.
In recent years, the NWCA has joined with the Organic Growers Association and back-to-the-land homesteaders to protest a 2006 decision by the Carroll Electric Cooperative to spray toxic herbicides without consulting their membership.
Prior to watching this film, I was unacquainted with the pristine natural beauty of the Ozark region or the wealth of medicinal herbs found nowhere else in North America. I was also intrigued by the unusual personal profiles of the activists and their intimate knowledge of the geology and natural history of the region.
That being said, the film’s soundtrack was the high point for me. I’m pretty passionate about blue grass.
*Agent Orange is an equal mixture of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D that was used by the US military to defoliate the jungle during the Vietnam War. Thousands of GIs who were exposed to it developed cancer, autoimmune and neurological disease and other health problems and have seen major birth defects in their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In 2014, the EPA generated major controversy by approving a new Dow herbicide containing a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate (Roundup) EPA approves new 2,4-D blend