Thursday, October 01, 2009

Stewards of the Land

If you haven’t been watching documentary filmmaker Ken Burns’ new PBS-TV mini-series, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea--which began last Sunday night--then you’re really missing out on some wonderful small-screen storytelling. Although the series title doesn’t make it sound like scintillating entertainment, Burns and producer/writer Dayton Duncan have put together a feast of modern landscapes, historical photography, and character sketches that are both inspiring and tragic. The first couple of episodes, which focused on naturalist and author John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt (an unusually conservation-minded Republican who used his office to broaden the scope and possibilities of park development), set a fine precedent for succeeding installments, which have talked about early park promoters Stephen Mather and Horace M. Albright, and Standard Oil heir John D. Rockefeller Jr., whose philanthropy did much to save what might have been lost natural treasures in the United States. If you’d like to catch up with the series so far, click here. This six-part series ends tomorrow night.

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