The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

National Parks embody an idea as uniquely American as the Declaration of Independence and just as radical: that the most magnificent places we possess belong not to royalty or the rich, but to everyone – and for all time. A selection of five clips from the television series on National Parks, directed by Ken Burns, scheduled to air on PBS in the fall of 2009, will focus on different personalities instrumental in the creation of today’s National Parks and to our understanding of their mission. The first two clips introduce George Melendez Wright, who in the late 1920s began arguing that the parks were concentrating too exclusively on attracting visitors and not enough on another vital mission: protecting wildlife in its natural state, particularly the trumpeter swans that he helped save from extinction. The third and fifth follow Adolph Murie who in the 1950s argued that ingrained practices such as killing predators ran counter to the purpose of National Parks. Also, we witness his fight against a plan for a highway and major tourist development in the heart of McKinley National Park in the 1960s. The fourth clip deals with the birth of an aggressive environmental movement that succeeded in preventing the construction of two huge dams on the Yampa Rive. A production of Florentine Films and WETA. Directed by Ken Burns. Produced by Julie A. Dunfey.

Introduced by Jeffrey Stine, Chair, Division of Medicine and Science, National Museum of American History. Post-screening discussion introduced by David Thompson, Vice President of Cultural Programming, WETA TV 26. Discussion with producer Julie A. Dunfey follows screening.

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