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April 2014

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL FOLLOWS BLUE-COLLAR PIONEERS INTO THE MUD AND CRUD AS THEY FORAGE FOR FILTHY RICHES

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Industrious Americans Leave the 9-to-5 Behind, Choosing Instead to Make Their Living

in the Great Outdoors and on Their Own Terms

 

New Series Premieres Sunday, April 20, at 10 PM ET/PT

 

(Washington, DC – April 7, 2014) A very unconventional workplace exists just outside of the busy cities and suburbs, in the great American wild. But only a select few know exactly where to look and how to support themselves and their families by heading out into the wilderness. Whether it’s digging wild ginseng in a Kentucky holler or wrangling eels from white water, these men and women are willing to lace up their boots, spill a little blood and work their fingers to the bone.

National Geographic Channel tromps into the wild with blue-collar pioneers who shirked conventional 9-to-5 careers to make their living in the deep rivers, soggy mudflats and wild backwoods of America. Filthy Riches, a new series premiering Sunday, April 20, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, travels the country with industrious Americans who prove they're not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty in order to make a living. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com and follow us on Twitter at @NGC_PR.

Now in his 60s, Ray Turner has been catching eels with his handmade weir (a barrier across a river designed to alter its flow) for more than 30 years. Turner is one of only a few people to hold a license to build such a weir on the East Branch of the Delaware River. Every day, he battles the unforgiving river current to protect his weir from falling apart. After harvesting the eels, he takes his bounty back to his self-constructed smokehouse deep in the woods where he processes, smokes and sells the delicacy.

In the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky, Billy Taylor and his sons hunt the prized root ginseng. Taylor is a fully licensed wild ginseng dealer in the state. He and his sons search the forest all day long while trying to avoid encounters with the animals that live in the mountains. Taylor is determined to find his ginseng and deliver it intact to buyers, while his sons, who are learning the business, often struggle to keep up in the bush. Taylor promotes sustainability by planting ginseng berries and encouraging all of his diggers to do the same.

On the vast mudflats created by Maine’s receding tides, dynamic duo Jim Campbell and Andy Johns dig their way across the mud to find valuable bloodworms, prized by fishermen around the world as extraordinary bait. Both Campbell and Johns have worm digging licenses from Maine. They hunt for bloodworms along the coastal mudflats. Each worm is money in their pockets, but the work comes with its downsides. Potentially deadly sinkholes, or “honey pots” as they call them, can take hours out of the day to avoid and can swallow up their day’s work, or even them if they’re not careful. Plus, fierce competition with neighboring clam diggers for territory often leaves them with empty buckets at quitting time. 

Unwieldy tree growths known as burls are very valuable due to the spectacular patterns in them that the rest of the tree doesn’t have. But bringing them to market requires burl hunters Greg Dahl and Albert DeSilva to put their money and their livelihood on the line every day. Dahl and DeSilva acquire permits or receive permission from private landowners to extract burls, but they never know the wood’s true worth until it is cut down and cracked open. They both have a passion and a drive to find and extract the best burls on the West Coast.

Fueled by a steady demand from the restaurant industry, Chris Matherly and Levena Holmes scour the forests looking for wild mushrooms. Traveling across the country and searching in unfamiliar forests, the pair must put their foraging reputation, and lives, on the line to deliver the best mushrooms to their discerning clients — discerning farm-to-table chefs and food sellers who want everything fresh and wild. The rules for mushroom hunting vary from state to state and can be confusing even for the pros.

Eels, mushrooms, ginseng, bloodworms and burls are important natural resources. Their harvesting goes back many generations and is now subject to federal, state and local laws. Sunrise to sunset, this tenacious group of entrepreneurs must rely on their own strength and determination to take on the open wilderness and make their living on Filthy Riches.

 

Premiere Episodes Include:

Filthy Riches: Harvest Moon

Premieres Sunday, April 20, 2014, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT

Making a living off the land is tough, but for some, they wouldn’t have it any other way. For eel fisherman Ray, this means battling fast-moving river currents and constantly rebuilding his eel weir in preparation for the annual eel migration on the Delaware River. For Billy and his sons, surviving off the land means hunting in the dense Appalachian Mountains for prized ginseng root. The Taylors have their first big order of the season, but they must first survive an encounter with a venomous snake in order to dig up the ginseng. Bloodworm hunters Andy and Jim race against the incoming tide to dig for worms in the mudflats of Maine, all the while avoiding waist-deep, quicksand-like mud pits. And burl hunters Greg and Albert are searching for box elder burls, but have only a day to drag the burls from a canyon before the sun sets.

 

Filthy Riches: Hungry for Money

Premieres Sunday, April 27, 2014, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT

On the Delaware River, eel fisherman Ray faces a huge lightning storm as he paddles to his weir. In Oregon, Greg and Albert struggle to remove a 1,500-pound burl from the side of a steep, craggy hill. Across the country in Maine, bloodworm diggers Jim and Andy get into a heated battle with two other diggers who are trying to invade their turf. And in the woods of Michigan, Chris and Levena are trying to find mushrooms that have not been damaged by recent heavy rains. Every day is a battle with the elements if you want to make a living off the land.

 

Filthy Riches: High Stakes, High Reward

Premieres Sunday, May 4, 2014, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT

As the weather begins to turn colder, those that live off the land have to work even harder to make a living. On the icy mudflats of Maine, Jim and Andy decide to share a valuable mudflat with two rookie worm diggers and pass on their expertise while still making a paycheck. In the mountains of Kentucky, ginseng hunter Billy receives a big order that could be worth $12,000 — or it could be a complete bust. In Napa, Calif., burlers Greg and Albert take a big gamble purchasing a walnut burl, but they won’t know if their investment pays off until they fully unearth the monster tree. On the Delaware River, Ray has more than just eels on his mind. He must hurry to repair his pet emu’s fence or risk losing it to a predator.

 

Filthy Riches is produced by Half Yard Productions for National Geographic Channel. For Half Yard Productions, executive producers are Greg Smith, Abby Greensfelder and Sean Gallagher. For National Geographic Channel, executive producers are Brian Skope and Kathleen Cromley; vice president of production & development is Kevin Mohs; senior vice president, production & development is Noel Siegel; executive vice president of programming and strategy is Heather Moran; and president is Howard T. Owens.

 

National Geographic Channels

Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channels US are a joint venture between National Geographic and Fox Cable Networks. The Channels contribute to the National Geographic Society’s commitment to exploration, conservation and education with smart, innovative programming and profits that directly support its mission. Launched in January 2001, National Geographic Channel (NGC) celebrated its fifth anniversary with the debut of NGC HD. In 2010, the wildlife and natural history cable channel Nat Geo WILD was launched, and in 2011, the Spanish-language network Nat Geo Mundo was unveiled. The Channels have carriage with all of the nation’s major cable, telco and satellite television providers, with NGC currently available in over 83 million U.S. homes. Globally, National Geographic Channel is available in 435 million homes in 173 countries and 37 languages. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Chad Sandhas, 202-912-6537, csandhas@natgeotv.com