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The National Parks Documentary is Ken Burns' Best Yet

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Two young girls watching Old Faithful erupt

On Sunday, September 27th 2009, the first installment of Ken Burns' "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" will air on PBS. The weeklong series will showcase new facets of the national parks in America and the people who strived to preserve the natural beauty of our country for future generations.

Burns once said, "For the first time in human history, land was set aside not for kings or noblemen or the very rich, but for everybody and for all time." Millions of acres of mountains, rivers, lakes, meadows, forests, beaches, and glaciers belong to every person in America. The words "this land is your land, this land is my land" have never rung truer.

Since the mid-1800s, 58 national parks and 333 national monuments and historical sites have been established under the National Park Service. Since the beginning these places have been shrouded in controversy. On one hand their delicate, natural beauty merits preservation and leaves beholders in awe, and on the other hand numerous valuable resources have been unearthed, moving those who stand to profit from their exploitation to pursue development of the land.

Though the federal government reigns over the fate of the parks, it has always been the actions of individuals which have led to their establishment and protection. Burns does a remarkable job of illustrating the impact even a single person has had on our national parks. These people were not necessarily heroes before they endeavored to defend some of America's most stunning treasures; there is no prerequisite for getting involved. Find out how you can have a positive impact and enjoy a national park near you.

Catch a glimpse of clips from the documentary, and read about the series. Ken Burns has a really interesting Q and A section on the PBS website that rekindles the passion for the outdoors and reminds park-goers why the parks are important. If you want to participate in local events related to the documentary, check out the Calendar of Events.

If you're in the New York metro area later this month, please come meet a few of us from Camping Road Trip at the local events in Central Park on September 23rd, and in Battery Park on September 24th and 25th, where you can hop on a ferry to Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty to preview The National Parks: America's Best Idea.

Happy trails!

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