Aired Sunday September 27th, 2009 at 5:00 pm on KUED HD Ch. 7.1
The National Parks: America's Best Idea 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.
Filmed over the course of more than six years in some of nature's most spectacular locales - from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, Florida's Everglades to Utah's Arches - the 12-hour series is also a story of people from every walk of life - 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 precious portions of the land they loved. It's the story of struggle and conflict, high ideals and crass opportunism, adventure and inspiration - set against breathtaking landscapes.
Produced by Ken Burns, The National Parks: America's Best Idea airs over six consecutive evenings, beginning Sunday, September 27, at 5 p.m., and repeating that night at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. 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, and personal memories and analysis from more than 40 interviews, along with what Burns believes is the most stunning cinematography in any of his documentaries, 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.
With 58 national parks, plus 333 national monuments and historic sites, the National Park Service has a presence in 49 of the 50 states (Delaware is the sole exception). 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 all people could experience them.
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 people's emotional connection to them remain relatively unknown.
To kick off the premiere of the series, KUED and the law firm of Fabian & Clendenin are hosting a free public screening at Sugar House Park Sunday, September 27, at 6:30 p.m. of the first episode of the Ken Burns series. The public is invited to bring their families, a picnic, blankets and chairs, to enjoy the most spectacular landscape in America on the big screen. (In case of inclement weather, the screening will move to the Highland High School Auditorium.)
To find out about additional National Parks-related events, visit kued.org.
KUED HIGHLIGHTS UTAH NATIONAL PARKS
In conjunction with the long-awaited broadcast of Ken Burns' series, KUED is broadcasting its own productions featuring the stunning landscapes of Utah. KUED's local productions will be paired with five of the six episodes, beginning September 27, with Utah: The National Parks at 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. and ending October 2 with a special hour-long Utah NOW look at many of Utah's scenic wonders. Here is a rundown:
UTAH NOW: "An Interview With Ken Burns"
Friday, September 18, at 7:30 p.m.
Utah NOW's Doug Fabrizio talks with Ken Burns talking about the making of his documentary "The National Parks."
UTAH: THE NATIONAL PARKS
Sunday, September 27, at 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Utah's national parks are home to some of the most stunning landscapes in America. John Howe's film is a symphony of sight and sound that features the spectacular landscapes of Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Zion National Parks, set to music from some of the world's greatest composers.
RED ROCK RONDO
Tuesday, September 29, at 9 p.m.
KUED joins with the Western Folklife Center to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first national park - Zion. The hour-long special explores Zion's stunning natural and cultural landscape through music performed by an all-star ensemble. Also featured are local residents whose stories inspired Red Rock Rondo's "Zion Song Cycle," by composer Phillip Bimstein.
THE JACKSON HOLE STORY
Wednesday, September 30, at 9 p.m.
In the shadows of the Teton Mountains, a group of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, neighbors gathered one summer's night in 1923. Together, the cross-section of locals shared a vision for the future of their town. They formulated "The Jackson Hole Plan," an ambitious balance between conservation and development. Their casual meeting set in motion the creation of Grand Teton National Park.
GLEN CANYON: A DAM, WATER AND THE WEST
Thursday, October 1, at 9 p.m.
Glen Canyon Dam was one of the most extensive construction projects in human history. Forever changing the face of the American West, the dam would create one of the world's largest man-made bodies of water in a desert, while drowning thousands of years of history.
UTAH NOW: "Utah's National Parks"
Friday, October 2, at 9 p.m.
In an hour-long special, Utah NOW travels to some of Utah's national parks to explore our state's unique relationship to many of the most beautiful scenic wonders in the country.
Local funding for The National Parks: America's Best Idea is provided by the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and Fabian & Clendenin.
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