The National Parks: America's Best Idea (2009) s01e05 Episode Script

Great Nature

PETER COYOTE: In July of 1929, a 90-year-old woman returned to the Yosemite Valley in California.
She was called Maria Lebrado, but 78 years earlier as a young girl, she had been known by her real name To-tu-ya, the granddaughter of Chief Tenaya, leader of the Ahwahneechees, an Indian tribe who for centuries had called the valley their home until in 1851 a battalion of white men had driven them out at bayonet point.
To-tu-ya was the sole remaining survivor of that sad moment.
This was her first time back.
Half a generation after the Ahwahneechees' expulsion, the federal government had preserved the beautiful valley permanently as a national park.
Still, everywhere she looked, To-tu-ya was reminded of how much things had changed.
In a broken mixture of English, Spanish, and her own ancient language, she told her escorts the valley floor was now more wooded and brushy than in her day.
Her people had regularly set grass fires to keep the meadows open and the trees and shrubs at bay.
Then she looked up at the rock walls of the valley.
The great monoliths and majestic waterfalls stood unchanged.
Turning toward Half Dome, the cleft rock she knew as Tis-sa-ack, she stretched out her arms and raised her voice in a strong, clear, high-pitched call that echoed off the granite walls.
It was, she explained, the call her grandfather Tenaya had once used to summon his people together.
Until that moment, she had been the last one to hear it.
[Woman calling] WOMAN: They're islands of hope.
The parks are always where I can go home again.
I go back to my hometown, there is a Safeway where I used to play with Sylvia Gonzalez, they have taken and turned my old school into a junk shop, but the parks don't do that.
So these are places we can always go home and paradoxically that we can always see into the future and hope for the better things.
MAN: When we look at parks and we look at the United States and we examine the whole idea of democracy, I think that the park experience is an exploration of the idea of freedom.
Where do I come from, where am I going, how did I get here, how did we as a people get here? I think that when people go to a national park, they get a sense, a compass to history.
COYOTE: As the 1920s ended, the United States was about to enter two of the darkest and most frightening decades of the 20th Century, ones that included an economic catastrophe that threatened the foundation of American society, followed by a war that threatened the existence of freedom throughout the world.
For a time during those dark years, the national parks would thrive as never before.
In the 1930s and 1940s, hundreds of thousands of American boys would go to the parks in pursuit of a paycheck and discover a new sense of dignity.
Then hundreds of thousands more under different circumstances would enjoy in the parks a moment of peace.
And what happens in the United States is that the American land comes to embody the American nation, and the national parks become the icons of our nationalism, the place where we come to celebrate what it means to be an American.
COYOTE: The national park idea was changing, too.
Though the park service had lost its charismatic first director Stephen Mather, a new president and his progressive administration would vastly expand the number of parks and then even more dramatically expand the very notion of what a national park could be.
A young biologist would insist that the survival of wildlife is as important as the preservation of scenery and that places without mountains or waterfalls should be seen as natural wonders, as well, and in a time when the future of the country was most in doubt, the symbols of her complicated past would be set aside and cherished while Americans from every walk of life and every possible background would find in the parks a deeper connection to their land, their nation, and themselves.
MAN: My sense is that our special connection with the national parks comes from the fact that we're a nation of immigrants, we're a nation of people for whom this is not home, and the national parks are what anchor and root us on this continent.
They are the meaning of home for many of us.
They're what it means to be an American and to inhabit this continent.
It's the end of the immigrant experience, and they're what takes you and says, "Now I am in America.
" COYOTE: In April of 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, newly sworn in as president, asked Horace Albright, the second director of the National Park Service to come along with him during a day trip from Washington to Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains.
MAN AS HORACE ALBRIGHT: The president got in the front seat, where there was more room, and they took the braces off his legs.
He put a cigarette in his long cigarette holder, sat back, and relaxed.
I sat behind him on the jump seat just a few inches from his ear.
I had a dream I wanted to make real.
For years, I had wanted to get the many national military parks, battlefields, and monuments transferred out of the War Department and Department of Agriculture into the National Park Service.
As we approached the Rappahannock River, I began thinking, "If I'm going to talk to the president "about getting the military parks, "I had better get to it.
" Now was the time.
COYOTE: Albright began pointing out sites important to the Second Battle of Bull Run in the Civil War, then broadened the discussion to myriad other battlefields and historic sites in the area.
WOMAN: So my father had a golden opportunity.
He told him exactly what he wanted.
He wanted the monuments, and he wanted the battlefields.
"All right.
" When they got back to the White House, "Hey, Albright," he said.
"Tomorrow morning, I want a plan in my office.
"I want to know what you want to do.
" FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: And to the formal duties of the Park Service by transferring from other departments many other parks, battlefields, memorials, and national monuments.
COYOTE: Within days, Roosevelt would sign two executive orders initiating a sweeping reorganization that overnight transformed the Park Service.
From the War Department, the agency was given responsibility for more than 20 military parks and historic battlefields and monuments: from Castillo de san Marcos, an ancient Spanish fort in St.
Augustine, Florida, to Yorktown, Virginia, where the decisive victory of the American Revolution had been won; From Antietam, where the bloodiest battle of the Civil War was fought, to Appomattox Courthouse, where it ended.
Under the new plan, the Park Service was now expected to protect and interpret more than a dozen nonmilitary historic sites, as well: The Statue of Liberty in New York's Harbor; Mount Rushmore in South Dakota; and many of the District of Columbia's most hallowed places, including the Lincoln Memorial, the shrine to the president who in 1864 had given the national park idea its first tentative expression.
National parks now embraced the idea of America itself.
MAN: Our national heritage is richer than just scenic features.
The realization is coming that perhaps our greatest national heritage is nature itself with all its complexity and its abundance of life.
George Melendez Wright.
COYOTE: During To-tu-ya's emotional return to Yosemite, one of her escorts, chosen because he was fluent in Spanish, was a young Park Service employee named George Melendez Wright.
He had been born into a wealthy San Francisco family.
His mother came from one of El Salvador's most prominent dynasties.
His father was a ship captain.
When they both died prematurely, he was raised by an aunt, who encouraged his fascination with the natural world, which led to a degree in zoology.
Working in Yosemite as an assistant park naturalist, Wright became convinced that the parks were fulfilling only part of their purpose.
By focusing so much on attracting visitors, park managers had overlooked another responsibility, which Wright called "the very heart of the National Park "System," preserving wildlife in its natural state.
MAN AS GEORGE MELENDEZ WRIGHT: When a tourist enters the park, he is looking for the same concentration of animals he saw in the paddocks of the zoological garden.
A galaxy of bears at our garbage platform approximates this concept, and he is satisfied.
Then comes a day when his heart skips a beat.
Walking along a deep forest trail, he comes upon a single bear eagerly peeling the bark from a log in search of fat white grubs.
This is a fresh thrill, and it brings the realization that the unique charm of the animals in a national park lies in their wildness, not their tameness, in their primitive struggle to survive, rather than their fat certainty of an easy living.
COYOTE: Though only in his mid-20s and near the bottom of the Park Service career ladder, Wright proposed to his superiors that he undertake something that had never been done before, a scientific survey of wildlife conditions in the parks.
It took a year of persuasion, but he finally won approval for his plan, partly because of his persistence and friendly personality and also because the financially independent Wright offered to pay for the whole thing himself.
In the summer of 1930 in a Buick Roadster he had purchased and customized to carry camping gear, cameras, and scientific instruments, Wright set off with two colleagues on an 11,000-mile tour of the western parks.
They would keep at it for 4 consecutive years.
At each park, Wright kept a daily log of the animals he saw.
He also gathered information from his conversations with people in the field, park rangers and superintendents, local rangers and hunters, old-time who remembered what it was like back in the 19th Century, anyone with information about the state of wildlife in the parks, to augment what he and his fellow researchers were observing with their own eyes.
Everywhere he went, Wright discovered disturbing evidence that the equilibrium of nature was out of kilter.
Coyotes, wolves, and mountain lions, even badgers and hawks and owls were routinely shot as unwelcome predators.
Buffalo were kept in corrals like domestic cows.
Elk, deer, and antelope were being fed hay in the wintertime.
At Yellowstone, he learned that rangers had been ordered to go to the nesting grounds of white pelicans and stomp their eggs because it was feared that grown pelicans deprived anglers of too many fish.
The bears meanwhile were treated like pets, fed scraps of food at staged events each evening near the parks' ga encouraged to beg for handouts from tourists.
MAN AS GEORGE MELENDEZ WRIGHT: The average citizen expects more intelligence from a bear than he has any right to expect.
He goes on the assumption that if he feeds a bear two sticks of candy and does not want to give it a third he is the one to say, "No, no," and he believes that the bear is to be accused of an unforgivable breach of etiquette if it takes all the candy out of his hand and perhaps takes the hand with it.
COYOTE: Wright eventually published two reports proposing a radically new policy.
Unless threatened with extinction within in a park, each native species, including the hated predators, he wrote, "should be left to carry on its struggle "for existence unaided.
" MAN: When he said that "the rare predators shall be "protected in the national parks "in proportion that they are persecuted everywhere else," that was--that was revolutionary.
COYOTE: Wright also called for the end of winter feedings, closing the bear dumps, no more stocking streams with nonnative fish, expansion of some park boundaries to accommodate grazing habits and changes in a multitude of practices that had become ingrained.
Most park managers were unconvinced, but Horace Albright, intrigued by the surveys, established a new Wildlife Division in 1933 and named George Melendez Wright, only 29 years old, as its chief.
MAN AS GEORGE MELENDEZ WRIGHT: If we destroy nature blindly, it is a boomerang which will be our undoing.
Consecration to the task of adjusting ourselves to the natural environment so that we secure the best values from nature without destroying it is not useless idealism.
It is good hygiene for civilization.
MAN: Part of the changing relationship with national parks as we evolved as a nation went from scenery to science.
The scenery was obvious.
It was overwhelming, it was stunning.
The science is not so obvious.
Science embraces mystery, and it begins to look into the future in ways that most people can't preserve.
It asks questions that most people don't ask, and it says, "We need to hold on to these places, and I can't give you "precise reason why, but the reason will come along later, "and if we don't have them, we'll never be able to explore "the answers to the questions we'll be asking.
" So they hold the answers to questions we have not even yet learned to ask.
[Frogs croaking] WOMAN: I think it's the people that pressure the government to do the things that benefit them.
I don't think most politicians sit there and say, "Now what's "the best thing I can do for the people today?" But they hear from their constituents, and that's what makes up their minds, and the people really love their parks.
They mean a lot.
There's an emotional bond there, and they'll fight for them.
WOMAN: There are no other Everglades in the world.
Nothing anywhere else is like them.
Their vast, glittering openness wider than the enormous visible round of the horizon, the sweetness of their massive winds under the dazzling blue heights of space.
The miracle of the light pours over the green and brown expanse of saw grass and water, shining and slow-moving below, the grass and water that is the meaning central face of the Everglades of Florida.
It is a river of grass.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
COYOTE: For centuries, the fresh waters of Lake Okeechobee had flowed slowly and yet unimpeded across a vast swath of southern Florida toward the Gulf of Mexico, a seemingly endless saw grass marsh punctuated by cypress swamps and mangrove forests, creating an environment unlike anything else on earth.
Its highest elevation is never more than a few feet above sea level, yet its rich landscape supports more than a thousand different species of plants from royal palms and smooth-barked gumbo limbo trees to delicate orchids and bromeliads.
It is the only place where alligators and crocodiles can be found living side by side, and it is a critical breeding ground for wading birds beyond counting: egrets and ibises and herons of all sizes, roseate spoonbills, and the wood stork, the only stork native to America.
GREENE: It's magnificent when you stand there and look out on the vastness of it all.
Well, they call it a swamp, but it's really not a swamp because the water moves ever so slowly, but it moves.
COYOTE: Because of its trackless impenetrability, the Everglades became something of a sanctuary for people, too.
In the 1800s when the Seminole Indians were driven out of Florida, small groups escaped and found refuge deep in the cypress trees and saw grass along with the Miccosukee Tribe and hundreds of runaway slaves.
Later when the fashion in women's hats made the white feathers of egrets more valuable per ounce than gold, plume hunters and poachers hid out in the Everglades and slaughtered the birds there with impunity.
A few game wardens who dared try to stop them were killed, too, but a greater threat soon imperiled not just the birds but the Everglades itself.
Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, elected governor on a slogan of "Drain the Everglades" was merely one in a long series of Florida politicians and promoters who built their careers on the idea of turning the vast wetland into a developer's promised land.
They had divided up the Everglades into lots that they were selling to the suckers from up north.
They were selling land by the gallon.
COYOTE: As mechanized dredges began digging drainage canals, real estate speculators began offering land at $1.
00 an acre, then $20, then $50, even though some of it was still underwater.
A succession of real estate booms swept south Florida.
Much of the northern Everglades was turned into sugar cane plantations, vegetable fields, and cattle ranches.
The towns sprouting up along the coastline began taking more and more land in the interior as their populations swelled.
Then in the late 1920s in the Miami area, a small movement began, hoping to save as much of the remaining Everglades as possible.
The Florida Federation of Women's Clubs had already preserved a 120-acre parcel called Royal Palms and given it to the state.
That wasn't enough for Ernest Coe, a landscape architect who had recently moved from Connecticut to Miami and was shocked to learn that rare orchids, exotic birds, and so much else in the Everglades were being systematically destroyed.
He decided to make it his life's work to create a much larger national park.
Coe threw himself into the cause, convening meetings, firing off petitions, relentlessly pestering politicians, and persuading others to join his crusade.
WOMAN AS DOUGLAS: I can't say I've spent many years and months communing with the Everglades.
To be a friend of the Everglades is not necessarily to spend time wandering around out there.
It's too buggy, too wet, too generally inhospitable.
I suppose you could say the Everglades and I have the kind of friendship what doesn't depend on constant physical contact.
I know it's out there, and I know its importance.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
COYOTE: Marjory Stoneman Douglas soon became the movement's most powerful public voice, even though, as she was the first to admit, she seemed an unlikely champion of the cause.
She wouldn't voluntarily say, "Well, let's go have a picnic in the Everglades," or, "Let's go boating in the Everglades.
" She just wasn't that much of an outdoor person really, but she taught people about the Everglades.
She would go anywhere anytime to make a speech about the Everglades.
COYOTE: A graduate of Wellesley College, Douglas had come to Florida in 1915 to get a divorce after a brief and unhappy marriage, then enlisted in the Navy in World War I and served with the Red Cross in Europe.
"I wanted my own life in my own way," she said.
She became the "Miami Herald" society reporter but found herself more interested in the struggles for women's rights and racial justice, earning a reputation for her feistiness and colorful writing.
When Ernest Coe turned her attention to the Everglades, Douglas quickly agreed with him that its unique combination of water, wildlife, and plants needed federal protection, but at the national level, many park supporters were unsure whether the Everglades, lacking dramatic mountains, waterfalls, or geysers, was worthy of being a national park.
"A swamp is a swamp," one leading conservationist said.
The National Park Service has spent the first 15, 20 years of its own existence promoting the West, and suddenly, the Everglades comes along, and the National Park Service says, "But wait a minute.
Where's the scenery? "Where's the Canyons? Where's the mountains? Why are people going to come here?" COYOTE: Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.
, who like his father had helped define the national park idea, was dispatched to Florida to study the request.
"The quality of the scenery," he conceded, "is to "the casual observer somewhat confused and monotonous, "perhaps rather subtle for the average person in search "of the spectacular.
" Then at the end of a long day, Olmsted found himself near the nighttime roost of thousands of ibises and herons.
MAN AS OLMSTED: After dusk, flock after flock came in from their feeding grounds and settled in the thickets close at hand.
It was an unforgettable sight that ranks high among the natural spectacles of America.
MAN: Somebody can tell you about a place, and you can nod your head and say, "Yeah, boy, that's interesting.
" Someone can show you a photograph or a painting of it and say, "Man, that's something," but until you're actually there, until you're in the midst of the place, where all your senses are involved, that's the transformative moment, that's when you say, "This is a place, and I am part of it.
" COYOTE: Skeptical Park Service leaders, including Horace Albright, made a series of official trips to decide whether to support the idea.
So did George Melendez Wright, director of the new Wildlife Division.
Both found it easier to conduct at least part of their investigations from the air, floating above the Everglades in the Good Year Blimp.
Both were astonished by what they saw.
"Unless this area is quickly established as a national park," Wright warned, "the wildlife there will "become extinct.
" RUNTE: And then Horace Albright got in a blimp, went over the Everglades, looked down, saw the wildlife, saw the alligators and all the ibises and all the wonderful bird life, and said, "You know, this is a beautiful "place, and I think this could be a park," and began to change his mind.
And in the process of changing his mind, it changed the Park Service's mind.
COYOTE: Finally, Ernest Coe and Marjory Stoneman Douglas' efforts paid off.
A bill to create Everglades National Park passed Congress by the narrowest of margins.
For the first time in history, a park had been created solely for the preservation of animals and plants and the environment that sustains them.
GREENE: It was an enchanted spot, and to me, that was the closest thing to heaven on earth, and I spent almost every weekend down in the a little bitty boat cruising Florida Bay and looking at the birds.
We didn't fish, we didn't speed around in a boat.
We just floated around and felt like we were all part of it.
Us and the birds.
And the fish that we could see on the bottom the water was so clear.
We were just being there part of it all.
I think that's what a national park is all about.
It gives people breathing room, it gives people a tranquil atmosphere.
It gives them an opportunity to be a part of nature.
You're just part of it all, just part of the rest of it.
ROOSEVELT: Today for the first time, I have seen Glacier Park.
Perhaps I can best express to you my thrill and delight by saying that I wish that every American, old and young, The great mountains, the glaciers, the lakes, and the trees make me long to stay here for all the rest of the summer.
To say from standpoint of scenery alone that-- MEN, SINGING: Where seldom is heard a discouraging word And the skies are not cloudy all day COYOTE: In Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the national parks had found their greatest friend in the White House since the presidency of his cousin Theodore Roosevelt a generation earlier.
had developed his own deep love of the outdoors during his boyhood on his wealthy family's country estate.
Adding historic sites and battlefields to the national parks had been simply a first step in the larger reorganization F.
and his administration contemplated, but a much bigger issue demanded his attention.
The Great Depression had thrown 1 out of every 4 American wage earners out of work.
Factories shut down, farms were foreclosed, unemployed young men, concerned that they had become a burden to their families, roamed the countryside by the hundreds of thousands.
Many Americans wondered where their next meal would come from.
In some cities, animals in the zoo were shot and the meat distributed to the poor.
Everyone in the United States was affected.
MAN: The welfare at that time was called relief.
It was sad when I found out the source of that money.
It was from the paupers' fund, so that was hard to take, but, hey, it kept us going.
COYOTE: Juan Lujan had grown up in west Texas near the tiny town of Redford on the Rio Grande.
LUJAN: By the time I graduated from high school, that was the depth of the Depression, so that prompted me and my mother to seek something, and one of the social workers advised her about the CCCs.
COYOTE: The TVA, the PWA, the WPA, the CWA.
Among the alphabet soup of programs Roosevelt's New Deal created to stimulate the economy and combat unemployment was one especially dear to the president's heart because it incorporated his concern for conservation.
He had pushed it through Congress in less than a week after being inaugurated.
The Civilian Conservation Corps put young men to work in national forests, state parks, and national parks, clearing brush and replanting forests, fighting fires, building visitor shelters and ranger cabins, improving campsites and trails.
Horace Albright was part of the early planning, and because the Park Service already had a long list of projects ready to go, it was given a lead role in the new program.
Within 3 months, 1,000 CCC camps were up and running with nearly 300,000 young men at work in them, sending money back home, helping millions of Americans.
LUJAN: Prior to the CCC, I didn't know anything about national parks except what I read in my history books, that they existed somewhere.
I had never been to a national park before.
COYOTE: Juan Lujan was dispatched to help develop what would become Big Bend National Park in Texas.
LUJAN: We were housed in barracks, we ate in a mess hall just like the military, and we had a certain discipline.
We'd get up early in the morning, do calisthenics.
That was before breakfast, and you'd better be at the calisthenics.
Otherwise, KP, kitchen patrol.
COYOTE: For many, it was their first time away from home and their first real encounter with the natural world.
Burton Appleton from Brooklyn was sent to Glacier National Park in northwest Montana.
I once visited my brother in Hackettstown, New Jersey, which was maybe 50 miles west of the Hudson River.
I had an aunt who lived out on Long Island, Eastport, Long Island.
Maybe that was 50 miles.
I can't remember visiting anyplace else.
Those are the only two times that I think I had left Brooklyn, New York.
We'd been on the train for about 4 days, and we were awakened at a stop, and I looked out the window of my upper berth, and there was this mountain with snow in April, and of course, in Brooklyn, we had a bluff maybe in Prospect Park we could walk up, but nothing like that in my past.
Another thing I remember is that I was out there by myself one day with my Kodak box camera, and I--to this day, I don't believe it.
A deer walked up to me within 10 feet maybe.
I stood stock still.
I couldn't believe that, and I took a picture, and as soon as I clicked the camera, the deer turned tail an ran, and I have that photo.
COYOTE: Claude Tyler, at age 16 the eldest of 6 boys and 2 girls in a desperately poor farm family from Blossom, Texas, was dispatched to the barren wastes of Death Valley National Monument.
TYLER: We loaded on a truck somewheres in that area and went to Death Valley, and it was pretty warm then, but in June, it really did get hot.
Fifth day of June, it was 120 in the shade.
270 foot below sea level.
Well, it was hot, and us boys kind of got toughened to it, I think.
We all got a good suntan.
COYOTE: Tyler was then sent to Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California, a peak more than 10,000 feet above sea level.
TYLER: I'd never been to the mountains before.
It was all new to me.
Kind of short-winded the first time I went up there.
Ha ha ha! Get up above the tree line, why, you get short of breath, and I would make pictures and send them home and tell them I was doing all right and this is where I'm at, and Mother would write and say, "Well, you be careful on those mountains.
" We got paid $30 a month of which a whole $5.
00 was ours.
The rest of it went home, and $25 a month seems like nothing, but it made a big difference.
Money and dignity was important because whenever you need a shirt and you buy it, if you bought it with your own money, that's a good feeling.
ROOSEVELT: It's very good to be here at these Virginia CCC camps.
I wish I could see them all over the country.
I hope that all over the country they're in as fine condition as the camps that I have seen today.
I wish that I could take a couple of months off from the White House and come down here and live with them because I know I'd get full of health the way I have.
LUJAN: We almost thought he was God.
We really liked him.
Because at the same time, there were many other programs having nothing to do with the CCC, but there was progress, there was work, there was money in the community circulating.
COYOTE: Besides the conservation work they did, the men also participated in organized sports, hobby clubs, discussion groups, and classes meant to prepare them for getting jobs once they left the camps.
At Big Bend, Juan Lujan helped lay the foundations for new park buildings and then, because he spoke both Spanish and English fluently, became a museum guide.
He was also put to work teaching his less-educated comrades.
LUJAN: Most of the enrollees in that particular camp had not graduated from high school.
Many of them had little or no education, and those of us that had some, we volunteered to teach classes, and some of them wanted to learn how to read and write Spanish.
I taught some of those, too.
COYOTE: Juan Lujan would go on to college, something his mother always wanted him to do, eventually earn a master's and then a doctoral degree and continue teaching others for the rest of his life.
After his time at Lassen, Claude Tyler returned to Blossom, Texas.
TYLER: I went back to school for a year.
I went over to the school house, and the teacher wanted me to go from a--I had only finished about the fifth grade, and he looked over some of the things that I took in CC camps and correspondence courses, and he put me in the first year in high school, and so I went one year in high school, and that's the last of the education that I had.
It's because my parents hadn't really got up on their feet real good.
I went back to CC camps and stayed two terms in there.
APPLETON: I was not a very good high-school student.
My grades were not all that good, and I am convinced to this day that the only reason I was able to matriculate at the New York State College of Forestry was that I convinced the registrar or the dean of admissions of my experience in the CCC.
That's what the CCC did for me.
COYOTE: Over the course of the Depression, more than 3 million men would find work at one time or another with the Civilian Conservation Corps.
They would build more than 97,000 miles of fire roads in national forests, combat soil erosion on 84 million acres of farmland, and plant 3 billion trees, more than one half the total reforestation accomplished in the nation's history.
During that time, some $218 million would be pumped into projects solely within the national parks, including trails and buildings that remain to this day.
RUNTE: The Depssion is a golden age because the National Park Service is a federal agency, and it's going to get all of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "let's rebuild the nation" dollars.
And the budgets of the National Park Service soar, and as the National Park Service looks at projects that could put people to work, Congress agrees, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt agrees, and the National Park Service suddenly finds itself swimming in money relative to what it had in the 1920s.
ROOSEVELT: We are definitely in an era of building today, the best kind of building, the building of great public projects for the benefit of the public and with the definite objective of building human happiness at the same time.
TYLER: Looking back on it now, I believe that it helped a lot of families have a better life.
I realize now that it was for the benefit of the economy, too, but I believe that a lot of families might not have been able to survive if it hadn't have been for that program.
And I got to see a lot of the world that I wouldn't have seen before that if I hadn't have done to the CC camps.
Mount Lassen was outstanding all right.
Death Valley was just hot.
I don't know whether I'd call that a favorite memory, but I can remember it.
[Clattering] SCHULLERY: The national parks have always been managed pretty much by the values of their time.
It was still spectacle.
Wild beauty was defined on superficial levels that had very little to do with wildness and how wildness actually works.
Oddly enough, it's the scientists who had the most to do with redefining beauty.
MAN AS GEORGE MELENDEZ WRIGHT: In the end, the National Park Service either will be praised for intelligently conserving the last fragments of primitive America or condemned for failure to hold to the real purpose.
George Melendez Wright.
WOMAN: I think his passion really shows through in his writing.
He was very persuasive.
He could convince people who really were against his ideas, he could bring them along.
He was a joyous person.
He was very comfortable in his own skin, not egotistical but very confident in himself.
He was a small person even by Hispanic standards BRE PEQUEÑO, but with a big heart, mind, and presence.
COYOTE: By 1936, George Melendez Wright was married with a growing family, but he was busier with is work than ever.
The Wildlife Division he had started within in the Park Service now had 27 biologists promoting Wright's vision that park policies had to take the animals and plants into account, not just the tourists.
His personal interest in Yellowstone's trumpeter swans, the largest and most rare of American water fowl, which had been reduced by hunting to a mere handful of breeding pairs, had turned into a personal crusade to save them from extinction.
Wright solicited the help of local rod and gun clubs, lobbied state fish and game commissions and other federal agencies, even donated some of his own money again to create a special wildlife refuge that ultimately brought the swans back from the brink.
MAN AS GEORGE MELENDEZ WRIGHT: Sometimes while I'm watching these birds, the illusion of the untouchability of this wilderness becomes so strong that it is stronger than the reality, and the polished roadway becomes the illusion, the mirage that has no substance.
COYOTE: In February, the traveled to the newly authorized Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas, where the Chisos Mountains rise out of the Chihuhuan Desert and the Rio Grande cuts through a series of dramatic canyons separating the United States from Mexico.
With Roger Toll, another rising star within the Park Service, Wright was part of a two-nation commission studying the possibility of an international park straddling both sides of the border.
His fluency in Spanish and his outgoing disposition helped him make friends with his Mexican counterparts.
After the meeting, he and Toll headed for home.
Near Deming, New Mexico, an oncoming car blew a tire and crashed head-on into their vehicle.
Both men were killed.
George Melendez Wright was 31.
Without him, the Park Service's interest in wildlife waned.
By the end of the decade, of the 27 biologists who had once been under his supervision, only 9 were left.
MAN: Scenery without wildlife is scenery.
Wildlife is a component of the grander scene.
Without that wildlife, you don't have a national park.
George Melendez Wright was a savior of wildlife in America's national parks, but more importantly, George Melendez Wright is a savior of the national park ideal.
ROOSEVELT: I'm very keen about travel, not only personally-- you know that--but also travel for as many Americans as can possibly afford it because those Americans will be fulfilling a very desirable objective of our citizenship, getting to know their own country better, and the more they see of it, the more they will realize the privileges which God and nature have given to the American people.
COYOTE: Throughout the Depression, President Roosevelt made a number of well-publicized visits to the national parks, glorying in the chance to be outdoors in the midst of such stunning landscapes, even if the polio that had destroyed his legs confined him to the backseat of his touring car, and he cheerfully encouraged his ROOSEVELT: I decided today that every year ought to be National Parks Year.
There is nothing so American as our national parks.
The scenery and wildlife are native, and the fundamental idea behind the parks is native.
It is in brief that the country belongs to the people.
They are not for the rich alone.
COYOTE: Despite hard times, the number of park visitors continued to rise during the 1930s from roughly 3 million a year at the start of the decade to 15.
5 million in 1939, and Roosevelt was intent on setting aside more places for them to visit.
He turned his attention to the northwestern corner of Lake Superior off the coast of Minnesota and Michigan and the largest freshwater island in the world, creating Isle Royale National Park.
The president also used his authority under the Antiquities Act to bypass Congress altogether and create a string of national monuments.
Some of them would eventually be elevated to park status, including Joshua Tree in southern California, named for the distinctive plants Mormon pioneers believed looked in silhouette liked the Prophet Joshua raising his arms to beckon them forward.
The Dry Tortugas, a remote cluster of 7 tiny islands 70 miles off the southernmost tip of Florida.
On one island sits the largest brick fortification in the world, Fort Jefferson, used during the Civil War as a prison.
Capitol Reef in Utah, where a hundred-mile fold in the earth's crust exposes a panoply of differently colored rock formations the Navajo Indians called The Land of the Sleeping Rainbow.
And off the coast of Santa Barbara, the Channel Islands, a crucial breeding ground for hundreds of animal species, including the California brown pelican, whose nesting place had virtually disappeared everywhere else in the western United States, an oasis of undeveloped land just a few miles from the explosive urban growth of greater Los Angeles.
All clear! ROOSEVELT: We should remember that the development of our national park system over a period of many years has not been a simple bed of roses.
It has been a long and fierce fight against many private interests, which were entrenched in political and economic power.
MAN: This is an allocation out of the total sum COYOTE: No one was more willing to take on entrenched interests than the president's irascible Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, a self-described old curmudgeon.
A Chicago lawyer and former Republican stalwart known equally for his explosive temper and his fierce devotion to New Deal policies, he had become one of Roosevelt's closest and most controversial advisors.
"The meanest man who ever sat in a cabinet office "in Washington," Horace Albright said, "and the best Secretary of the Interior we ever had.
" Ickes fought battles on every front.
One of his first acts was to abolish the department's segregated lunchrooms.
Then he told the national parks in the South to simply ignore local Jim Crow laws requiring separate facilities for blacks.
At Virginia's Shenandoah National Park, signs segregating campgrounds or picnic areas were quietly taken down.
Ickes make more enemies by repeatedly proposing the creation of a Department of Conservation that would put national parks, national forests, and all other natural resources under the same administrative control--his.
Congress repeatedly refused, but he continued to have Roosevelt's ear and trust and was tirelessly effective in advocating new parks regardless of the opposition.
In 1937, Roosevelt and Ickes entered into a park controversy that had been raging for 30 years.
On the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle, majestic mountains trapped the moist Pacific winds, which dropped 160 inches of rain a year, nurturing verdant rain forests that contained the largest specimens in the world of Douglas fir, red cedar, western hemlock, and Sitka spruce.
For centuries, it was the homeland of native tribes like the Makah and Quinault, the Hoh and Skokomish.
Over the years, more than 10 different bills had been introduced in Congress to make Mount Olympus National Monument into a National Park.
Each one was defeated, caught in a seemingly endless battle between the Forest Service and the Park Service.
Meanwhile, loggers were approaching the last virgin stands of rain forest.
"Left to the care of the Forest Service," Harold Ickes contended, "such places suffered the same fate as "a pig in the stockyards.
All that is left," he said, "is the squeal.
" POPE: Harold Ickes was one of the few Interior Secretaries of the 20th Century who was as big as the parks because Ickes was the first Secretary of the Interior who really engaged the fact that you could save a place once somebody had aspirations on it.
The early parks were created before anybody big and powerful had aspirations, and when San Francisco, which was big and powerful, drew its bead on Hetch Hetchy, San Francisco won, Hetch Hetchy lost.
Ickes said, "Wait a minute.
"Big, powerful people may have their aspirations "on the Olympics, but they don't have to win.
" COYOTE: The president decided to have a look for himself, but his visit was arranged by the Forest Service and its allies in the lumber and pulp mill industries, all of them intent on convincing Roosevelt that a national park would ruin an already suffering local economy.
No detail was overlooked.
They excluded all Park Service officials from the invitation list, scheduled a massive logging train to rumble past the president's lodge during his breakfast, a not-so-subtle reminder of the jobs at stake, and they moved the sign marking the National Forest boundary to give the impression that a heavily logged area, now several square miles of burned stumps, was not on federal land.
"I hope the son of a bitch who's responsible for this is "roasting in hell," Roosevelt said, not realizing that he was actually looking at a national forest d his guide was the forest supervisor.
When Roosevelt learned about the deception, it only increased his commitment to protect the forest.
On June 29, 1938, with the president's passionate support, Congress converted the National Monument to Olympic National Park and gave Roosevelt the authority to expand its boundaries, which he soon did, saving two of the most threatened valleys by stripping an additional 187,000 acres away from the Forest Service.
MAN: When the weekend comes around, I get restless.
At night, I bring maps of Mount Rainier into bed with me and fall asleep looking at them.
When it's time to depart for a trip, I cannot stay in bed any longer and get up before anyone else.
I can't wait to go hiking again.
Iwao Matsushita.
COYOTE: Among the millions of people who took President Roosevelt's advice to visit national parks were Iwao Matsushita and his wife Hanaye, Japanese citizens who had moved to Seattle in 1919.
Each Sunday, the Seattle Camera Club, which he had helped start, organized outings to nearby Mount Rainier National Park, where Matsushita not only took still photographs but also created home movies and kept a small journal to record their adventures.
[Projector running] MAN AS IWAO MATSUSHITA: Beyond these high valleys, you can see the craggily white mountains, whose peaks are showing through a thick fog.
It is a view worthy of a sumi-e painting.
Looking to the north, you can see Mount Rainier appearing majestically like our king of mountains Mount Fuji.
I sit on a patch of heather.
I marvel at the speed with which clouds are changing their shape.
I crouch by a stream fed by the remaining snow to enjoy a cold drink of water and open up my sushi.
COYOTE: By the mid-1930s, Iwao and Hanaye had visited the park more than 100 times, drawn to the place they called Holy Mountain.
MAN AS IWAO MATSUSHITA: Everyone here is having a good old time, and no one had a reason to frown.
Like a paradise of our own world and time.
Looking up, I feel as though the great snowy mountain were an affectionate mother to all the people playing on her slopes.
COYOTE: Farther to the south, another Japanese immigrant was finding similar joy and inspiration in another national park.
MAN: Success or failure is not my aim in life.
Whether I be a flake of snow or only a drop of dew, I do not care.
I wish only to paint with gratitude to nature in my heart and with sincerity in my brush.
This is my future, this is my biography.
Chiura Obata.
COYOTE: Chiura Obata had arrived in the United States in 1903 at age 17, a promising young painter whose original intention was to stay only briefly in America before going on to Paris to continue his career, but he soon set down roots in San Francisco, creating some of the only on-site sketches of the destruction wrought by the Great 1906 Earthquake, making a name for himself in the bay area's international art community, even co-founding the first Japanese-American baseball team on the mainland.
Then in 1927, he visited the high Sierra and John Muir's Yosemite.
MAN AS CHIURA OBATA: In the evening, it gets very cold.
The coyotes howl in the distance.
In the mid-sky, the moon is arcing.
All the trees are standing here and there [Coyote howls] and it is very quiet.
[Water running] You can learn from the teachings within this quietness.
Some people teach by speeches, some by talking, but I think it is important that you are taught by silence.
WOMAN: I think for my grandfather it was not only that he was able to paint this landscape, but for him, it became a spiritual inspiration, as well, and he would describe it that this was "the greatest harvest "for my whole life and future in painting," and not only did he paint for art that he would bring home but also even just little postcards.
He sent several postcards back to his children back home.
One of them reads, "Gyo-chan, the lovely moon is gone.
"It went to bed early to sleep.
"Grow big and shine more.
" COYOTE: For two months, he and two other artist friends tramped the high country, taking in all the park had to offer, exposing Obata to what he called "not just shizen," or nature, "but dai-shizen, great nature.
" Obata's Yosemite images drew huge crowds when they were put on exhibit and rave reviews from the critics.
"To see our native beauty spots through the eyes "of a foreign artist of high rank," one of them wrote, "is to find new charm in our own land.
" By the 1930s, Obata had been asked to join the art faculty at the University of California, and every summer, he and his family would return to Yosemite, where he gave lectures, taught outdoor sketching classes to the tourists, and made his annual pilgrimage to a special mountain spring, whose clear water he collected for use in making his paints throughout the rest of the year.
MAN AS CHIURA OBATA: I dedicate my paintings first to the great nature of California, which has always given me great lessons, comfort, and nourishment, second to the people who share the same thoughts as thoug drawing water from one river under one tree.
My paintings, created by the humble brush of a mediocre man, are nothing but expressions of my whole-hearted praise and gratitude.
COYOTE: By 1940, thanks in great part to the national parks they had come to cherish as their own, both Chiura Obata and Iwao Matsushita had decided the United States was home, even if its laws at the time prohibited them from becoming citizens because they had been born in Japan.
When the company he worked for ordered him back to Tokyo, Matsushita resigned.
The Depression would make finding a new job difficult, but he and Hanaye wanted to stay close to their Holy Mountain.
MAN AS IWAO MATSUSHITA: I enjoy my life in Seattle.
I have so many happy memories with nice people, both Japanese and Americans.
I have visited Mount Rainier, my lover, more than 190 times.
I cannot leave Seattle when I think of the beautiful views of Mount Rainier.
Iwao Matsushita.
MAN: Fortunate he is who may see Mount McKinley against the summer midnight sky, the lush fern forests of Kilauea, the white jubilance of Yosemite's waters, and the somber rock and surf of Acadia National Park.
To record and interpret these qualities for others, to brighten the drab moods of cities, and build high horizons of the spirit on the edge of plain and desert, these are some of the many obligations of art.
Ansel Adams.
COYOTE: In 1938, a book arrived at Harold Ickes' It was filled with stunning images of the mountainousil.
" Kings River Canyon region of the southern Sierra, captured by an aspiring photographer named Ansel Adams.
This was his first book of landscapes, and since he knew that Ickes was interested in making the area a national park, Adams had sent it along with his personal compliments.
Ickes took it to the White House to show President Roosevelt, who liked it so much he quickly appropriated it for his own.
Ansel Adams was on his way to becoming the most influential photographer for the cause of national parks since William Henry Jackson's images of Yellowstone had helped persuade Congress to create the world's first park in 1872.
There is this unending argument about whether art can affect human affairs, and I think Ansel is one great example of how it did.
Muir is another example.
Muir's writings absolutely had effect, and it wasn't just propaganda writings.
It was his evocative descriptive writings of the Sierras.
Same with Ansel.
Ansel used his photographs in this movement and used them very effectively.
COYOTE: The sensitive only child of a patrician San Francisco family, Adams had first encountered nature during a family trip to Yosemite.
There, seeing the waterfalls and the rock faces, El Capitan, The Three Brothers, Half Dome, he was transfixed.
"We should not casually pass them," Adams wrote later, "for they are the very heart of the earth speaking to us.
" "I knew my destiny," he added, "when I first experienced Yosemite.
" In the 1920s when he made two pack trips into the Kings Canyon Country, it ignited in him the conviction that the place was just as inspirationally spectacular as Yosemite and equally deserving of federal protection.
It was an old dream.
John Muir had fought for it and failed in the 1890s.
Then Stephen Mather had taken up the cause with the same result.
Now Adams and the Sierra Club believed they had an ally who shared the dream and had the power to make it come true-- Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes.
"If I had my way about national parks," Ickes said, "I would create one without a road in it, a place where man "would not try to improve upon God.
" Ickes saw in Kings Canyon his chance to create a new kind of park, a wilderness park in which roads, hotels, and other large developments would be banned.
He thought it should be called the John Muir Kings Canyon Wilderness Park, and he threw himself into the fight against the forces that instead wanted dams, irrigation projects, grazing, timber harvesting, and elaborate tourist resorts.
Through a series of shrewd maneuvers, he turned one private interest group against the other, waged ceaseless battle against the Forest Service's efforts to retain control over the land, and persuaded most of the major conservation groups not to abandon their support because of the compromises he felt he had to make.
"Ickes was," one opponent of the park said, "overambitious, egocentric, ruthless, unethical, "and highly effective.
" In the final moments before the vote in Congress, the name was simplified, dropping any reference to John Muir and wilderness.
On March 4, 1940, President Roosevelt signed the law creating Kings Canyon National park.
Because it was a roadless park and because of his disability, Roosevelt would never be able to see Kings Canyon in person.
Instead, he contented himself with following John Muir's trail through the photographs and words of Ansel Adams.
MAN AS ANSEL ADAMS: The dawn wind in the high Sierra is not just a passage of cool air through forest conifers, but within the labyrinth of human consciousness becomes a stirring of some world magic of most delicate persuasion.
Here are forces familiar with the eons of creation, contemplating the flow of life and of change through living things, each of them tied to cloud, stone, and sunlight.
We may make new discoveries about ourselves.
COYOTE: In the fall of 1941, Ickes decided Adams could be of even greater assistance.
He put him on the Interior Department's payroll at $22.
22 a day and told him to bring back photographs of all the parks for prominent display in the capital city.
Adams said it was one of the best ideas ever to come out of Washington and happily packed up his station wagon to set out on his assignment.
Off and on for the next 8 years, he would compile thousands of images of the national parks and visit every one of them except, to his great regret, the Everglades.
[Radio static] ANNOUNCER: This bulletin from the NBC Newsroom here in New York.
SECOND ANNOUNCER: We've just had a flash ANNOUNCER: Action against Pearl Harbor defenses.
SECOND ANNOUNCER: saying that a state of war exists with the United States.
THIRD ANNOUNCER: That the Japanese have attacked the United States Naval Base.
SECOND ANNOUNCER: Now we begin to see through things, it's obvious that the--the, uh, Imperial General's staff has precipitated an attack and now announces that that attack is war.
COYOTE: But just a few months after Adams began his travels, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the United States was thrust into another World War.
Now Adams pursued his project with even greater passion.
To those who questioned whether his artistry could be put to a better purpose in wartime, he had a simple reply.
"I believe my work," he wrote, "relates most efficiently to "what we are fighting for.
" Like everything else in American life, the national parks now found themselves subordinated to the all-out effort to defeat Japan and its ally Germany.
The CCC camps closed down as the men who had been working on trails and park buildings became soldiers and shipped out overseas.
Park budgets were cut to a quarter of their pre-war levels.
Just as in the First World War, pressures mounted to open them up to timber cutting, mining, and grazing.
Harold Ickes did his best do minimize the damage.
MAN AS ANSEL ADAMS: When World War II began, there were strong pressures in many circles to close the national parks for the duration with the thought that no one needs a vacation in wartime.
Ickes disagreed with this, stating that in times of national stress and sorrow the people needed precisely what the national parks could offer.
Ansel Adams.
COYOTE: When Ickes informed Roosevelt that a proposed bombing range would endanger the breeding grounds of the rare trumpeter swan that George Melendez Wright had worked so hard to preserve, the president dashed off a quick note to his Secretary of War countermanding the decision.
"The verdict is for the trumpeter swan and against "the Army," Roosevelt wrote.
"The Army must find a different nesting place.
" In 1941, the year leading up to America's entry into the war, a record 21 million people had visited the national parks.
The next year, the figure dropped to 9 million, then to 6.
8 million in 1943.
All across the system, many park rangers changed uniforms and went off to war.
"Poor, old National Park Service is in a bad way," a now retired Horace Albright wrote to his successor after being informed of all the cutbacks, but the parks still had a role to play.
At Mount Rainier, units of what would become the 10th Mountain Division were taught how to survive in high altitudes and cold weather.
War planners also realized that national parks could provide much needed rest and recuperation for battle-weary soldiers.
The Navy took over the swank Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite for a convalescence center.
Rest camps went up in Sequoia, Carlsbad Caverns, the Grand Canyon, and Mount McKinley National Park in Alaska was transformed into an army recreation camp.
Soldiers stationed in the Aleutian Islands could fish, hike, ski, skate, and relax.
In 1943, 1.
6 million soldiers found momentary solace and enjoyment in a national park, 1/4 of the total visitation.
That same year, Ansel Adams interrupted his photographic survey and went to the Owens Valley of California in the eastern shadow of Mount Whitney to document something entirely different.
After the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed an executive order requiring all people of Japanese descent living on the West Coast, even those who were United States citizens, to be uprooted from their homes and sent to internment camps for the duration of the war.
"We must prosecute this war with all ruthless efficiency," Adams wrote after he had photographed the Manzanar Internment Camp, "but we must be certain that, as the rights "of the individual are the most sacred elements of our "society, we will not allow passion, vengeance, hatred, "and racial antagonism to cloud the principles of universal "justice and mercy.
" WOMAN: Dear Husband, I'm a little too much tired, but I'm sure I can live here all right.
Just imagine a mountain camp.
When the sky's clear, we will see our holy Mount Rainier, I suppose.
I will write you again very soon.
Lovingly yours, Hanaye.
COYOTE: Because he had worked for a Japanese company, Iwao Matsushita was arrested and taken away from his wife in the first hours after Pearl Harbor.
Hanaye was put in a temporary detention center near Seattle, where she tried her best to boost the spirits of her husband far away in an internment camp in western Montana.
WOMAN AS HANAYE MATSUSHITA: Dear Husband, after severe rain, the sky became clear, and we saw Mount Rainier over the hill yesterday for the first time.
There will actually be a day when you'll be released and we'll be able to rest peacefully.
Once in a while, I dream about running around the base of Mount Rainier.
Remember the times we hiked through the mountain together? It all seems like a dream.
MAN AS CHIURA OBATA: The sudden burst of Pearl Harbor was as if the Mother Earth on which we stood was swept by the terrific force of a big wave of resentment of the American people.
Our dignity and our hopes were crushed.
COYOTE: Friends of Chiura Obata had pleaded with the federal government that the artist posed no security threat and even suggested that he be taken instead to his beloved Yosemite.
The request was denied.
Obata and his family were forced to go to a camp in Topaz, Utah.
To help keep his and his fellow prisoners' minds off what he called "the intolerable sin" of their incarceration, Obata opened an art school at the camp and continued his own sketching and painting.
HILL: So here he was basically with a community of fellow Japanese.
"Yes, we are in this desert, but don't just look "at the dust and the ground, don't just be depressed "about what's happening.
"You can somehow lift your spirits by looking "at the mountains that are surrounding us.
" They were not the same mountains that he had experienced in the Sierras of course, and yet, he felt comforted.
He would use that word.
"I still feel comforted and nurtured by great nature.
" And he wanted other people to understand this, as well.
COYOTE: One of his paintings, "Moonlight Over Topaz," was given to the president's wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, in thanks for her speaking out for fair treatment of Japanese Americans.
Years later in remembrance of his personal ordeal, Obata would paint "Glorious Struggle," the image of a tree in Yosemite's high Sierra, whose own struggle to survive seemed to give him strength and hope in his darkest hour.
One subject he loved to paint again and again was the sequoia.
For him, they were this great vertical line that connected heaven and earth, and for him, he saw the life of a person in these trees and that no matter the storms and trials of life that these trees survive with great dignity and great strength.
MAN AS CHIURA OBATA: In such times, I heard the gentle but strong whisper of the Sequoia gigantean.
"Hear me, you poor man.
"I've stood here more than 3,700 years in rain, snow, "storm, and even mountain fire, still keeping my thankful "attitude strongly with nature.
"Do not cry, do not spend your time and energy worrying.
"You have children following.
"Keep up your unity.
Come with me.
" Chiura Obata.
COYOTE: In the midst of the war, a letter arrived at the White House for President Roosevelt.
MAN: My dear Mr.
President, many years ago, I purchased some 30,000 acres of land in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, confidently expecting that the federal government would gladly accept the land as a gift to be added to its national park system.
15 years have passed.
The government has not accepted the property.
I have now determined to dispose of the property, selling it if necessary in the market to any satisfactory buyer.
Very sincerely, John D.
Rockefeller Jr.
COYOTE: The longest festering fight in the history of the parks was about to erupt into a full-scale battle.
Back in the 1920s, Horace Albright had shown Mr.
and Mrs.
John D.
Rockefeller Jr.
the flat, sage-brush- covered plain called Jackson Hole and explained to them his dream that all of it, the valley floor as well as the mountains, would one day be preserved, but when Congress had created Grand Teton National Park in 1929, it left the valley alone and set aside only the mountains.
Meanwhile, Rockefeller continued anonymously buying up ranches and homesteads in the valley with the intention of donating it all for the park's expansion, but Wyoming politicians, who had learned of Rockefeller's scheme, did everything they could to thwart his plan, not wanting Washington to tell them what they could and could not do with their land.
The state's sole congressman even introduced a bill calling for the complete abolition of Grand Teton National Park despite the fact that the mountains were not part of the dispute.
MAN AS HORACE ALBRIGHT: I must confess I get pretty discouraged at times in trying to understand some of the people out there.
It almost makes one weep, not for one's self because after all what difference does it make to an individual what happens to Wyoming, but one weeps for Wyoming itself.
Horace Albright.
COYOTE: Albright was a private citizen but more determined than ever to see his dream fulfilled.
In 1943 with Congress still unwilling to enlarge the park, he and Rockefeller and Harold Ickes decided that their only hope lay in the president's unique authority under the Antiquities Act to create a national monument.
Rockefeller's letter to Roosevelt was meant to prod the president into action.
It worked.
On March 15, 1943, Roosevelt signed an executive order establishing Jackson Hole National Monument, placing 221,610 acres of federal land on the eastern border of Grand Teton National Park under Park Service control.
In Wyoming, the response was a declaration of political war.
The president, one senator said, had committed "a foul, sneaking, Pearl Harbor blow.
" A journalist wrote that Roosevelt's action followed the general lines of Adolf Hitler's seizure of Austria.
MAN: When this happened, it was a big uproar, lots of talk, lots of talk, and the ranchers were totally opposed, and they thought their grazing rights were being destroyed.
COYOTE: Wyoming's governor threatened to use state police against any National Park official attempting to assume authority in the new monument.
Some Forest Service employees gutted their ranger stations before turning them over to the Park Service, and hoping to provoke a confrontation and draw attention to their cause, a group of armed local ranchers, led by the aging movie star Wallace Beery, defiantly herded 500 head of cattle across the monument without a permit.
MAN: I was born here in Jackson Hole in 1912.
There was pretty strong resentment about the manner in which the monument had been created, and we had rifles, and wthe monument land, and Wallace Beery was right at the--right at the head.
ostensibly to shoot anybody who might try to stop us.
No one tried to stop us, but we did get a lot of attention.
COYOTE: In Washington, Wyoming's delegation pushed through a bill abolishing the national monument and turning the land back to the Forest Service.
Roosevelt vetoed it.
The state of Wyoming then went to court, claiming that Jackson Hole lacked the objects of scientific or historic interest necessary for national monument status.
Postcards showing a ramshackle outhouse were circulated with a message saying, "These are some "of the historic structures here.
"This is one known to have been occupied several times "by Horace M.
" A federal court dismissed the case, saying it was a dispute between the executive and legislative branches which the judiciary would do well to steer clear of.
In 1945, Roosevelt died and World War II ended, but the battle of Jackson Hole roared on.
MAN AS HORACE ALBRIGHT: Dealing with Wyoming is like dealing with the Russians.
You never get anywhere by trying to cooperate.
Horace Albright.
COYOTE: "This was a battle," the retired Albright said, "I had to get into.
" He lobbied his Republican friends like former president Herbert Hoover and marshaled a campaign by major conservation groups to rally their members to tell Congress that the American people also had a stake in what happened in Wyoming.
A study was published showing that retail sales taxes in Jackson Hole had doubled and the region's overall economy had been strengthened by the boost in tourism, but the local political climate remained decidedly, stubbornly antipark.
Finally in 1950 after it became clear that the bitter battle would never end in unconditional surrender by either side, a compromise was worked out.
Teton County would be reimbursed for lost property taxes, existing grazing rights were grandfathered in, and the migratory elk herd would be managed by both the Park Service and the state, which would be permitted to oversee supervised hunts.
part of an enlarged of Jackson Grand Teton National Park,came now 3 times its original size.
Included in it was the 30,000 acres of private land John D.
Rockefeller Jr.
had been trying so hard to give away.
MURIE: So it's not just the spectacular.
It's the foreground.
You have to have foregrounds to wilderness, you have to have the highlands and middle lands and the lowlands, and a huge piece of northern Jackson Hole is saved from strip malls, saved from what happened to--to--down in the town of Jackson.
COYOTE: Tucked away in the compromise that finally ended the battle of Jackson Hole was another concession: "According to this provision, future United States presidents "are barred from ever again using executive action to "establish new national monuments "in the state of Wyoming except "by the express permission of Congress.
" Wyoming, the state with the distinction of having the world's first national park, Yellowstone, and the first national monument, Devil's Tower, now had another distinction--the only state where the Antiquities Act is null and void.
HANSEN: I was one who was very critical of the Rockefellers and I'm grateful now that I wasn't successful because I and did all I was able to do to try to thwart their plans, have to appreciate as everyone else does the uniqueness and the beauty of this area.
Thank God for the Rockefellers.
I've told them on more than one occasion that I'm glad I lost that fight.
WOMAN: For all the bureaucracy, for all the red tape, for all the arguments about public policy, our national parks are first and foremost places of love, and I think each American can look into their own hearts and tell you, "This is my national park," and it might be the Great Smokys, it might be Yosemite.
For our family, it's Grand Teton.
This is the range of our memory.
My great-grandfather brought my grandfather, who brought my father, who brought us as children.
It's the last place my mother came before she died.
It's also the last place my brother took his family before he succumbed to lymphoma.
I'll never forget.
We were at the Murie Ranch, and Steve and Ann and the girls were walking toward the Snake River.
It was pink light, alpenglow, and Steve stopped, and you could see the reflections of the Tetons in one of the pools, and he turned to Ann and the girls, and he said, "Mark this moment.
" And then 5 elks went across the Snake River, and I watched this family of 5 return.
These are the stories that allow us to go home and face not only our lives but even our deaths.
That's the power of these remembered landscapes.
DUNCAN: The Declaration of Independence began with this incredible statement that all men, all human beings are created equal.
We've been chasing that ideal, those words for the rest of our history, often too slowly, never quite reaching it even yet, but that's the statement that we're chasing.
The national park idea, which is the best idea we had after we became a nation, didn't start that way with a bold statement, grand ideals that we're trying to chase.
It began sort of experimentally, improvisationally, and it's only as we've moved through time that we have added this notion of what a park is and what's allowed in it and what's not allowed in it, what we should be drawing from it, but like the notion of freedom, we've always been arguing over it, we've always been trying to grapple with its meaning, and always trying to on the one hand remain true to the ideal but leaving it up to each succeeding generation to either push it a little bit farther or broaden it a little bit more.
COYOTE: In the midst of Franklin Roosevelt's presidency, the world renowned contralto Marian Anderson had been denied the opportunity to perform in Constitution Hall, the 4,000-seat auditorium controlled by the Daughters of the American Revolution, because of the color of her skin.
At the urging of Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes, who had once been the head of the NAACP in Chicago, quickly issued Anderson permission to sing at a different venue, the Lincoln Memorial, a recent addition to the national park system.
The concert was free and drew a crowd of 75,000 of all races and creeds.
HAROLD ICKES: Genius, genius draws no color line, and so it is fitting that Marian Anderson should raise her voice in tribute to the noble Lincoln, whom mankind will ever honor.
Miss Marian Anderson.
COYOTE: After being introduced by Ickes, Anderson stepped to the microphone and began her program.
My country, 'tis of thee Sweet land of liberty Of thee we sing Land where my fathers died Land of our pilgrims' pride From every mountainside Let freedom ring Ave Maria ICKES: In this great auditorium under the sky, all of us are free.
When God gave us this wonderful outdoors and the sun and the moon and the stars, he made no distinction of race or creed or color.
[Anderson continues singing "Ave Maria"] POPE: You start out with places that were created in the late 19th Century because nobody wanted them, like Yellowstone.
You go through places like Hetch Hetchy, which were sacrificed because somebody did want them.
You go to the Olympic Peninsula, and the guys who wanted to cut the logs lose.
You go to Jackson Hole, and the state of Wyoming desperately fights the creation of Grand Tetons and then puts it on its license plates, and finally, you end up with history.
So what--what, a European would ask, does all this have in common, and I think what it all has in common is these are the places where Americans encounter who they are and are home.
These are the places that make this continent our home.
This is what enables Americans to inhabit this whole place, where after all very few of us originally came from.
ANDERSON: Ave Maria [Cheering and applause]