Monday, August 29, 2016


"100 years later, National Park Service lands still grant us ‘breathing space'" PBS NewsHour 8/25/2016


SUMMARY:  One hundred years ago today, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act, creating the National Park Service.  To reflect, Jeffrey Brown takes his Bookshelf segment outdoors to Virginia's Great Falls Park.  He's joined by Terry Tempest Williams to discuss her new book, which narrates the stories of America's "sacred lands," the power they offer visitors and the challenges of maintaining them.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  It was a hundred years ago today that President Woodrow Wilson signed what was called the Organic Act, creating the National Park Service.

Jeffrey Brown takes our Bookshelf outdoors.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  Terry Tempest Williams, author, naturalist and environmental activist, grew up in Utah surrounded by national parks.

TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS, Author, “The Hour of Land”:  They were our backyard.  And with our family business, laying pipe in the American West, it was this wonderful juxtaposition between intrusion in the land and protected land.

JEFFREY BROWN:  The story of the land, right?

TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS:  So, I feel like the American West is in my bones in the deepest way.  And I also felt conflicted at a really young age, because I saw my father, my uncle, my grandfather, my brothers digging trenches in the land.

And yet I saw prairie dogs on the side of the trenches.  And my impulse was to protect them from the very destruction that was putting food around our table..

JEFFREY BROWN:  One hundred years since the creation of the National Park Service, the contradictions and controversies over America's public lands continue.

But there is no denying the popularity of the parks themselves, Great Smoky Mountains in the East, Yosemite in the West, Yellowstone, the oldest park, established in 1872, and so many more, large and small, natural landscapes and historic monuments, some 412 parks and sites in all.

And attendance records continue to be broken, with more than 300 million visits last year.  In “The Hour of Land,” a Terry Tempest Williams, who still lives in Utah, has written part natural history, part memoir, part call for preservation.

We talked at Great Falls Park, a small, but dramatically beautiful National Park Service site just 15 miles from Washington, D.C., with the Potomac River crashing over and through rock formations and turkey vultures hovering overhead.

So, what happens to you when you go out into a park?


JEFFREY BROWN:  The miraculous?  Nothing less than that, huh?

TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS:  I mean superlatives.  This is about superlatives.

Just seeing this, all of a sudden, you say, OK, I remember what matters, and I am very, very small.  And, you know, humor returns, deep breathing returns, and that sense of affection.

"National parks explorer urges Americans to ‘get out there and see’ them" PBS NewsHour 8/26/2016


SUMMARY:  Last June, Darius Nabors embarked upon a journey: in honor of the National Park Service's 100th birthday, he would explore the country’s 59 national parks in 59 weeks.  “I traded the modern conveniences of life...for beautiful sunrises, beautiful sunsets and just beautiful views of our country,” he says.  We followed up with him as he set out for his last destination: Maine’s Acadia National Park.

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