08-26-2008, 07:34 PM
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I pulled this from a newspaper some many weeks ago.

I found an online version here:

I REALLY REALLY look forward to this, as I'm a huge supporter of our national parks. I've been to about half of them to date, and one of my goals in life is to visit them all. I may not make it to EVERY park, but I'd be happy seeing 75-85% of them!

Los Angeles, CA July 14, 2008 PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) announced today that it will air the new Ken Burns documentary series, THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICAS BEST IDEA, in fall 2009. The 12-hour, six-part documentary series, directed by Burns and co-produced with his longtime colleague, Dayton Duncan, who also wrote the script, is the story of an idea as uniquely American as the Declaration of Independence and just as radical: that the most special places in the nation should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone. As such, it follows in the tradition of Burnsā€™s exploration of other American inventions, such as baseball and jazz.

Filmed over the course of more than six years in some of natures most spectacular locales from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska ” the documentary is nonetheless a story of people from every conceivable background rich and poor; famous and unknown; soldiers and scientists; natives and newcomers; idealists, artists and entrepreneurs; people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy. It is a story of struggle and conflict, high ideals and crass opportunism, stirring adventure and enduring inspiration set against breathtaking backdrops.

Just as many of the lands that make up todays national parks were the spiritual homes for the indigenous tribes who lived there, they had a profound and often spiritual impact on the settlers who first saw them and on the visionaries who fought tirelessly to preserve them as the common property of the American people, said Ken Burns. They saw in them a visual, tangible representation of Gods majesty. Our film celebrates the beauty of these parks and the vision and foresight of the men and women who made sure that this land would be preserved.

The narrative traces the birth of the national park idea in the mid-1800s and follows its evolution for nearly 150 years. Using archival photographs, first-person accounts of historical characters, personal memories and analysis from more than 40 interviews, and what Burns believes is the most stunning cinematography in Florentine Films history, the series chronicles the steady addition of new parks through the stories of the people who helped create them and save them from destruction. It is simultaneously a biography of compelling characters and a biography of the American landscape.

Making this film was one of the greatest joys of my life, said Dayton Duncan, who has visited all but one of Americas 58 national parks and who is the author of the companion book, to be published by Alfred Knopf. Each park is unique and has its own fascinating historical story. But they are all connected by the transformative idea that they belong to each of us, providing a shared place that lives in the memory of every individual and every family that has visited them over the years. And they are connected by the notion that individual Americans, in the best possible example of democracy, worked to make sure that future generations could enjoy them.

With 391 units (58 national parks, plus 333 national monuments, historic sites and other units), the National Park Service has a presence in 49 of the 50 states (Delaware is the sole exception). Like the idea of freedom itself, the national park idea has been constantly tested, is constantly evolving and is inherently full of contradictory tensions: between individual rights and the community, the local and the national; between preservation and exploitation, the sacred and the profitable; between one generations immediate desires and the next generations legacy.

As America expanded westward, pioneers would discover landscapes of such breathtaking and unusual beauty that written descriptions of the lands were sometimes assumed by people in the east to be works of fiction. Eventually, there emerged a belief that these special places should be kept untarnished by development and commerce so that they could be experienced by all people.

here was a sense that in Europe, you had the Roman coliseum or Notre Dame or the Cologne cathedral, but we didnt have anything like that in America, said Dayton Duncan. But we did have these spectacular natural landscapes that were as unique and ancient as anything in the Old World. So they would become our treasures. They would be the source of our national pride. But unlike in Europe, they did not belong to monarchs or nobility. They belong to everyone.

Wallace Stegner called the national parks the best idea we ever had, and no activity of the federal government engenders such universal support and public loyalty; yet the story of how these special places became preserved as parks, the role of individual citizens in creating them and the powerful stories of peoples emotional connection to them remains relatively unknown.
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