The National Parks: America's Best Idea (2009) s01e06 Episode Script

The Morning of Creation

[Wolf howls] [Wind blowing] [Bird cawing] MAN: I think wolves are probably the perfect symbol of that earlier time before we human beings set out to conquer nature.
[Howling] They're sort of the resistance movement to everything that we represent.
The brothers and sisters of the wolves' ancestors are the ones who came over to the campfire to join our ancestors and become our most loyal pets.
The wolves' ancestors are the ones who refused to come into the campfire, and we've never really forgiven them for that.
[Howling] They remained free, wild, undomesticated, dangerous.
And long after they no longer posed a real threat to us and our survival, I think we still held it against them that they were out there, free and wild and dangerous, and went out to do as good a job as we could of getting rid of them.
MAN: It is a better world with some buffalo left in it.
A richer world with some gorgeous canyons unmarred by sign boards or superhighways, undrowned by power or irrigation reservoirs.
If we preserved as parks only those places that have no economic possibilities, we would have no parks.
And in the decades to come, it will not be only the buffalo and the trumpeter swan who need sanctuaries.
Our own species is going to need them, too.
It needs them now.
Wallace Stegner.
PETER COYOTE: Since its beginnings in the mid-19th century, the national park idea had embraced two equally important, yet apparently contradictory thoughts--that the park should preserve America's special places in their natural conditions forever and that they should be open and accessible for the enjoyment of all Americans.
Early park leaders had glossed over any paradox, arguing that the best way to protect the parks was to build public support for them by encouraging more and more visitors.
But with the end of World War II, as the parks neared their 100th birthday and an increasingly affluent and mobile nation placed demands on them as never before, the balancing act between preservation and use would be severely tested.
MAN: It's hard to imagine these places existing without those tensions.
They are precisely the right tensions that a democratic nation should have as it tries to figure out how to protect lands that are there for all the people.
COYOTE: The very definition of what constituted a national park would be challenged and then broadened, and just when it seemed as if there were no pristine places left to set aside as national parks, a new one would be created in the backyard of one of the nation's fastest growing cities.
While far to the north, in the nation's last frontier, the basic principles of the park idea would be reinvigorated for a new generation.
MAN: I'm not quite sure why it works this way, but we seem to put our highest ideals in our national parks.
They're like, um, homes for our finest dreams, and therefore they function like consciences.
MAN: When you're standing there silently in the presence of the giant sequoias, you can't help but recognize that you're a part of something that is way beyond whatever it is that you envision this world might be.
You can't stand there all alone without understanding that there's a power in the world that is far greater than anything that you've ever experienced and that you're connected to that power just as that sequoia is connected to that power.
It permeates all of us.
And when you understand that, it improves your relationship with your fellow man because you realize that he has the same capacity.
He has the same access.
He is your brother.
[Big band music playing] COYOTE: In 1946, with the war finally over and gasoline rationing and travel restrictions lifted, attendance at Yellowstone National Park quadrupled from 189,000 to 807,000.
Two years later, it would cross the one million mark for the first time and never turn back.
MAN: All of a sudden, everybody in the world wanted to come to Yellowstone.
Everyone was tired of the war.
Everyone wanted recreation.
Everybody flocked to Yellowstone in their own cars.
There weren't enough campgrounds.
There weren't enough hotels.
There weren't enough souvenirs.
There weren't enough anything, and the buildings had had 4 or 5 years to deteriorate, so the park facilities were in bad shape.
COYOTE: All across the United States, the same thing was happening in other parks, straining the entire system.
Nationwide, annual attendance would climb from a wartime low of 6.
8ilillion visitors in 1943 to nearly 32 million by 1950.
CRONON: One of the things that happened in the 1950s with the explosion of families in cars taking their kids on the road to visit the national parks was that more and more American children grew up with the national parks as a formative part of their childhood, and I think we often forget that in fact one of the aspects of the national parks that is most important to our American-ness, to our patriotism, is the fact that they are landscapes of origin and of childhood for so many Americans.
They are the places where we grew up.
They are the places where we experienced our families in some of their most intimate locations and where our families and our childhoods connected to what it meant to be an American.
MAN: It was just like being in heaven, being in there.
In those days, there was no road.
The park was all a blessed wilderness, and I have often thought since, what a wonderful people we would have been if we had wanted to keep it that way.
[Thunder] Adolph Murie.
COYOTE: Back in the summer of 1922, a college student from Moorhead, Minnesota, named Adolph Murie arrived in Mt.
McKinley National Park in Alaska.
The park had been established 5 years earlier, but Congress had only recently appropriated any money for its protection and development--$8,000 used to hire a superintendent and one assistant, who were instructed to patrol 2,200 square miles, an area half the size of Connecticut.
They were also expected to keep poachers away from the wildlife and prepare the park for the tourists promoters hoped would soon be coming to see the highest mountain in North America.
That year, a total of 7 showed up.
One of them was Adolph Murie, who was there to help his older brother Olaus, a biologist, conduct a study of caribou migrations.
Murie was 22 years old.
It was his first time away from Minnesota.
MAN: Ade Murie was not an imposing or intimidating-looking kind of a man.
He kind of had a Minnesota farmer's look about him, and I don't mean that as an insult, but he was not an overwhelming person by looks.
He was, however, in terms of character and intelligence and durability and stick-to-it-iveness, a man to be reckoned with.
COYOTE: For 5 weeks, Murie and his brother tramped for miles across the tundra, following game trails and the braided gravel beds of glacial rivers, exulting in the notion that they seemingly had the park entirely to themselves.
One day he came across the lone footprint of a grizzly bear.
MAN AS ADOLPH MURIE: In innocent wonder, I gazed at the imprint.
It was a symbol more poetic than seeing the bear himself, a delicate and profound approach to the spirit of the Alaska wilderness.
We come here to catch a glimpse of the primeval.
We come close to the tundra flowers, the lichens, and the animal life.
Each of us will take some inspiration home.
A touch of tundra will enter our lives and deep inside make of us all poets and kindred spirits.
COYOTE: Adolph Murie's trip to Alaska inspired him to get a doctoral degree in biology, and George Melendez Wright recruited him for the Park Service's newly formed Wildlife Division.
By the late 1940s, Murie had made a name for himself as a top-rate field biologist and as an iconoclast whose views on the direction of park policies often got him in trouble with his superiors.
At Olympic National Park, where wolves had been hunted to extinction years earlier, he called for their reintroduction.
No one listened.
At Isle Royale in Lake Superior, the moose population had grown so plentiful because of a lack of natural predators, he wrote, that the park looked "like "a prosperous barnyard.
" And at Yellowstone, Murie objected to plans to build a golf course and opposed a proposal to drain a wetlands around the Old Faithful Lodge in order to reduce the number of mosquitoes bothering the tourists there.
MAN AS ADOLPH MURIE: Let us leave a few wilderness shrines.
Let there be a few outstanding scenes which can be viewed without the attendant chatter of the idly curious.
MAN: The heart of the legislation that established Yellowstone and the other parks is to preserve the environment.
It's as simple as that, and if you're going to preserve the environment, you have to preserve the creatures, the critters, that live there.
COYOTE: Like his mentor George Melendez Wright, Murie believed many long-held assumptions about predators needed to be scientifically tested, and he spent two years studying what to do about Yellowstone's coyotes.
The answer, he concluded, was not killing the hated predators but changing park policies.
SCHULLERY: When he produced his study of the coyotes in Yellowstone and demonstrated that they weren't this--this scourge on the landscape and how they actually functioned compared to how people thought they functioned, that they weren't turning Yellowstone into a reservoir of evil that produced countless coyotes that went out and killed off ranchers' livestock, it took a long time for that lesson to soak in.
COYOTE: Yellowstone's superintendent was so upset, he shelved the report and nearly got Murie fired.
Now one of only 3 biologists left in the Wildlife Division, Murie was dispatched to the nation's most remote and least visited national park--Mt.
McKinley in Alaska, the park that had made such a profound impression on him years earlier, and once again he would find himself on the unpopular side of a raging controversy when he embarked on the first in-depth study ever undertaken of wolves.
MAN: The wolf is the master killer of all wildlife, the villain in Alaska's pageant of wildlife, and the worst natural enemy of sheep, moose, and caribou.
Alaska Game Commission.
BROWN: Wolves represented death and destruction.
That bloodthirsty, ravening wolf was viewed as a kind of an interloper.
I mean, you had the nice animals.
You had caribou and deer and sheep, and here were these wolves who would tear them apart and eat them in full view of visitors, and that was anathema.
I mean, extinction was the word.
COYOTE: Americans had been killing wolves for centuries.
Despite a Park Service policy against the extermination of any animal species, they had been systematically eliminated at Grand Canyon, Crater Lake, Death Valley, Grand Tetons, Mt.
Rainier, Olympic, Rocky Mountain, and after the death of two wolf pups in 1926, Yellowstone National Park.
Alaska was now virtually the only place left in the United States where wolves still existed.
WOMAN: At one time, the Park Service was ordered to shoot every wolf they saw.
They figured that anything a wolf get the hunter doesn't get.
But just to shoot wolves to say they shot a wolf--let's-- let's shoot Democrats.
Let's shoot Republicans.
I mean, it made that much sense.
COYOTE: During his first season back in Alaska, Murie walked more than 1,700 miles, crisscrossing the park, gathering data and whenever possible taking photographs and home movies to augment his extensive field notes.
He analyzed more than 1,000 samples of wolf droppings to determine their eating habits, collected 829 skulls of Dall's sheep to study their teeth and understand the age and health of the animals when they died.
His second year, he discovered a wolf den.
MAN AS ADOLPH MURIE: On a ridge across the river from the den, about a half mile or less away, there were excellent locations for watching the wolves without disturbing them.
I spent about 195 hours observing them.
The longest continuous vigil was 33 hours, and twice I observed all night.
MARTIN MURIE: Well, you've got to have patience.
Oh, yeah.
You have to be devoted.
If you have to climb a tree in 30 below and sit there for an hour shivering, you do it.
Every day you're out there.
Doesn't matter what the weather.
He was that type.
COYOTE: He would be at it for nearly a decade, even moved his wife and children to a remote cabin in the park and temporarily adopted a wolf pup he named Wags so he could study its development as it grew from a nursling to full size.
Over time, Murie would get to know wolves better than any scientist ever had, and the report he produced would become a landmark in understanding the species.
WOMAN: I often think if we were to send for a representative of our species to meet with the animals, we would send Ade because he's a man who knows how to listen.
He was a man who understood stillness.
And more than anything, his curiosity and his extraordinary sense of science opened up the landscape in a new way for all of us.
He saw the land as a set of relationships, nothing in isolation, everything connected.
COYOTE: Murie's conclusions that wolves actually strengthened the sheep and caribou herds by culling out the sick and the weak were denounced by hunting groups across the country as a piece of pro-wolf propaganda from start to finish.
As private bounty hunters and federal Fish and Wildlife Service officers initiated a campaign of poisoning and shooting wolves throughout the rest of Alaska, pressure mounted for the park to eradicate its wolves, too.
In response, the Park Service agreed to a limited wolf control program, but the person they selected to oversee it was none other than Adolph Murie, who kept the number of kills to the barest minimum, thinning out only elderly wolves near the end of their natural lives.
And when the sheep herd grew, just as Murie had predicted, the Park Service quietly instituted a permanent ban on all wolf killings.
It was the first time in history that the species nearly everyone seemed to hate found protection from any government agency.
McKinley's wolves had survived.
MAN AS ADOLPH MURIE: Our generosity to all creatures in the national parks, this reverence for life, is a basic tradition and is fundamental to the survival of park idealism.
The goal is to have the minimum of manipulation in our parks.
Let us be guardians rather than gardeners.
Adolph Murie.
MAN: With so many friends, it is difficult to understand why parks are so bedeviled by threats and seem always to be fighting for their very existence.
The story is an old one.
There are frequent occasions when people see nothing wrong with harming, hurting, marring, or spoiling when there are valuable resources of water, power, timber, oil, or minerals to be exploited within park boundaries.
Greatest of all threats to the parks today is the pressure to build dams.
Alfred A.
Knopf.
COYOTE: By 1950, Americans who needed dams for irrigation, city water supplies, and hydropower had been in conflict for half a century with other Americans who wanted national parks kept off limits from any development.
John Muir had fought and lost the first battle when the city of San Francisco used its political muscle to win federal approval for building a dam in the beautiful Hetch Hetchy Valley within the boundaries of Yosemite National Park.
The defeat had galvanized the nascent conservation movement into pushing for creation of the National Park Service in 1916 to make sure nothing like Hetch Hetchy would ever happen again.
Now in the aftermath of World War II, as the populations of states in the arid west began to skyrocket, pressure for more dams only intensified.
With the enthusiastic backing of virtually every elected official in the region, plans were drawn up for 9 billion dollars' worth of dam projects, including two in a remote corner of Utah and Colorado where the Green and Yampa Rivers converge in the midst of winding sandstone canyons, a place known as Echo Park.
But Echo Park was also the site of Dinosaur National Monument, first set aside in 1915 to safeguard an important discovery of prehistoric bones and then expanded in the 1930s to include the dramatic canyonlands upstream.
Few people had ever visited the monument or paddled through its network of canyons, but the handful who had considered it almost sacred.
MAN AS WALLACE STEGNER: This is a country as grand and beautiful as any America can boast.
A 325-square-mile preserve that is part schoolroom and part playground and part-- the best part--sanctuary from a world paved with concrete, a world mass-produced with interchangeable parts, and with every natural, beautiful thing endangered by the raw engineering power of the 20th century.
Wallace Stegner.
COYOTE: Even though the Park Service opposed the dams, President Harry Truman and his Secretary of the Interior supported them.
It was Hetch Hetchy all over again.
It was exactly the same battle, but the world had changed.
There were now many more people prepared to say that, wait a second.
The national parks are not supposed to be breached in this way.
We are not meant to do this kind of work.
COYOTE: In 1952, with 2 of his 7 sons and their families, a 73-year-old retired chemistry professor named Harold Bradley made a week- long trip down the Yampa River, snapping photographs and taking home movies as they traveled.
They had imagined that a desert region named Dinosaur would be little more than an arid, desolate boneyard, one son remembered.
Instead, they found a world of stunning beauty.
MAN: My dad knew that there were plans on the drawing board for dams in Grand Canyon and dams that would affect Glacier Park and other parks, too.
If Echo Park Dam could be built, I think a dam could have been built anywhere in the national park system, and they'd say, "Well, you let us do it at Echo Park.
"Why not do it here in Grand Canyon?" COYOTE: Back home in California, Bradley embarked on what he called "a one-man crusade to save Echo Park" by showing his home movie to anyone who would watch it.
Among those who saw it was David Brower, the new Executive Director of the Sierra Club--young and brash with a flair for public relations.
MAN: When I was 8 years old and when my brother was 6, we went down the Yampa and Green Rivers, and it was part of my father's campaign to stop dams in Dinosaur National Monument, and it--you know, I look back on it now and I realize what a piece of history it was.
Many people see it as the beginning of the modern environmental movement.
My father used film, used books, used trips like this down the river.
He was building a constituency of people to appreciate this landscape.
COYOTE: Brower organized Sierra Club outings through Dinosaur's canyons and invited influential Easterners to join them.
Alfred A.
Knopf, the New York publisher, emerged from one trip so impressed that he commissioned a handsome book of photographs and essays, edited by the novelist and historian Wallace Stegner.
Knopf himself wrote one of the book's essays and made sure every member of Congress received a copy.
Other organizations sprang into action, hoping to mobilize public opinion and kill the project in Congress, where approval of the dam seemed almost certain.
Harold Bradley helped persuade the Garden Club of America to oppose the dam and mail leaflets to its members encouraging them to write their Congressmen about it.
The General Federation of Women's Clubs did the same thing.
My brother Steve was the one that got Pop interested, and Pop was the one who got Dave Brower interested, and Dave Brower, once he was interested, kind of galvanized the entire conservation community, and Echo Park really kind of put conservation on the front page for the first time instead of something back with the obituaries.
COYOTE: When mail began pouring into Congress at a ratio of 80:1 against the Echo Park dam, the Speaker of the House reluctantly delayed consideration of its approval.
Authorization for the larger string of dams and reclamation projects would eventually pass, but without the ones in Dinosaur National Monument.
Public opinion had been felt.
A new national environmental movement had been born and immediately began battling against any other attempts to despoil the parks and America's wild places.
DUNCAN: You can save a place, but it's never really safe.
It always takes people caring.
It always takes vigilance.
It always takes effort to keep those forces at bay that want to crowd in, want to change it, want to over-commercialize it.
Once it's ruined, it's ruined, but once it's saved, each generation has its duty to keep it saved.
MAN AS WALLACE STEGNER: Sometimes we have withheld our power to destroy and have left a threatened species like the buffalo, a threatened beauty spot like Yosemite or Yellowstone or Dinosaur scrupulously alone.
We are the most dangerous species of life on the planet, and every other species, even the earth itself, has cause to fear our power to exterminate.
But we are also the only species which, when it chooses to do so, will go to great effort to save what it might destroy.
Wallace Stegner.
MAN: Charles Stevenson, "Reader's Digest.
" Drive to Yellowstone, as my wife and I did late last summer, and the moment you enter, you are in a big city traffic jam.
Pause to look at sights you've come thousands of miles to see, and cars pile up bumper to bumper a quarter of a mile behind you.
COYOTE: The 32 million Americans who had crowded into their national parks each year as the fifties began had suddenly become nearly 62 million before the decade was even halfway through.
98% arrived by car.
The parks weren't ready for them.
MAN AS CHARLES STEVENSON: Yosemite Valley proper has become a city festering with commercialism and ugliness.
This spot, which Theodore Roosevelt once called the most beautiful in the world, now boasts 3 acres of burning dump.
Lovely meadows have been paved to provide parking space.
Warehouses and stores obstruct famous views.
The campgrounds pack in about 97 persons to the acre.
Campers line up 15 deep for the toilets.
[Car horn honking] COYOTE: "The people," a park official said, "are wearing out "the scenery.
" The situation was the same in every park.
To make matters worse, staff levels and budgets were no bigger, and sometimes smaller, than they had been during the Depression.
Meanwhile President Dwight D.
Eisenhower was pushing through Congress the biggest public works program in history--an interstate highway system.
Conrad Wirth, the new Park Service director, proposed a similar 10-year plan for the parks, timing its completion with the agency's upcoming 50th anniversary in 1966.
He named the ambitious project Mission 66.
"The national parks," Wirth said, "are in danger of being "loved to death," and he called for spending $787 million, more than half for new construction, and the rest for repairs, better maintenance, and more staff.
The president enthusiastically agreed.
Work began almost immediately-- fixing roads, modernizing water and sewer systems, improving campgrounds and adding new ones, doubling the park's lodging capacity.
Museums, rest rooms, and information offices were consolidated into a single modern structure strategically located to intercept large numbers of people arriving by car, prepare them for their park experience through a series of displays and presentations, and send them on their way.
Wirth called them visitor centers.
Before Mission 66 was through, 110 of them would be built.
But as the work continued, many of the park's oldest allies became Mission 66's harshest critics.
They hated the increased development and the architectural choices being made.
They thought the new buildings were ugly.
The loudest complaints came from David Brower and the Sierra Club and focused on highway construction, particularly a plan to bulldoze and pave the Old Tioga Road across a long granite escarpment, skirting the shores of beautiful Tenaya Lake in the high country of Yosemite.
KENNETH BROWER: We went as kids with my father because he was photographing it, and we were outraged because we had the religion, and while my father was photographing, my brother and I said, "Well, let's get to it," and we started taking the survey stakes out.
And we had gotten quite a few of them out before my father noticed.
It wasn't my father's style, and he said no, we'd better put them back.
COYOTE: In the end, the road got built.
Some Sierra Club members now questioned the entire premise of helping more people visit the parks.
MAN: I think the battle about that road was the first moment when the Sierra Club began to realize that Muir's notion that you had to bring people to the parks to make them value them and save them was a two-edged sword--that if you brought too many people to the parks, you could ruin them, even if the people who came loved them.
COYOTE: The controversy would forever tarnish some of the real accomplishments of Mission 66.
But the American people, mostly unaware of the debate, continued to flock to their national parks.
Going to the parks was becoming an American rite of passage--journeys creating memories that would last a lifetime.
MAN: In 1959, my mother took my brother and me from Binghamton, New York, across the west.
My father had died in 1958, and we did the grand circuit of the national parks.
My mother made us navigate.
She gave us the road maps, and we picked the routes.
We chose the camp sites.
We had been to Yellowstone for 3 days, seen all the wonders, and then dropped down into the Tetons and Jackson Hole, and I was hooked.
I was a lover and defender of the national parks for the rest of my life.
MAN: 1955 in the summer, my wife and I and my little boy spent the night in Yosemite National Park.
My little boy had heard about what you could see in national parks, and he was particularly interested in the bears.
He'd never seen a bear in the wild.
At night, after we'd turn out the lights, we heard the garbage pails outside being handled by some force, and he said, "Dad, is that the bears?" I said, "I think so.
" He said, "Let's go out and see.
" I said, "No.
You can't go out and see the bears.
"Just hope that they will not bother us.
" And I know that when I took my son to a national park for the first time that I was planting in him the seed that would cause him to want to take his family to a national park.
CRONON: I think for me, the moment that the national parks really changed my life was when I was in fifth grade.
My parents put my brother and me into the back of a Ford station wagon, and we left Madison, Wisconsin, and spent 6 weeks circumnavigating the entire American west, but what we were really doing was going from national park to national park to national park to national park, and it was so overwhelming, it moved me so deeply, that it changed my life.
I would not now do what I do in my life were it not for that experience.
Part of it was the vistas, but what I most remember was opening the door of that car and getting out and walking to some site with my parents, and my father in particular, who's a wonderful storyteller and, like me, is a historian, always having some story to tell about the place that we were in that carried me back into layers of the past that were also in the place that we were in in the present.
And in that reconnection of past and present, discovering that there was far more to see in the place I was in than I ever would have imagined without the stories that he shared with me in that place.
DUNCAN: I grew up in a little town in Iowa.
Both of my parents worked, so we didn't take very many vacations.
My dad would paint the house during his vacation, or maybe we'd go fishing in a lake in Minnesota, but we never went on real trips.
And when I was just about to turn 10, we decided, this year we're going to do it.
We packed up borrowed camping equipment from people we knew, borrowed my grandmother's car, and headed west.
Um, it was a great experience.
We went to the Badlands.
I had never seen something like that.
Playing and running around on that denuded, bizarre landscape.
We went to Custer Battlefield, as it was called then--the Little Big Horn.
I found an arrowhead that I was pretty sure probably was Crazy Horse's.
It wasn't until I was a father myself that my dad revealed that he had bought that arrowhead in the gift shop and dropped it right underneath me.
And then we came to Yellowstone.
We arrived two days after the great earthquake of 1959.
We lived through 3 or 4 tremors.
The earth was shaking underneath me.
The forces that had created Yellowstone were reawakening.
Half of the park was closed.
When we went to the geysers, the rangers talking would say, "Well, this geyser used to go off about every two months.
"Whoop! There it is now.
" Or "this one," you know, "hasn't gone off since the earthquake.
" The earth was in motion there.
We went to the bottom of the waterfalls, and I thought, "Boy, I am not in Iowa anymore.
" MAN: I'm probably the last Secretary of Interior--this was 42 years ago--who will be flying along in a plane and look off and say, "Goodness, that ought to be a national park" and seeing it become a national park.
So it was a wonderful period of expansion and of new ideas in terms of what the Park Service should be doing.
SINGERS: All the leaves are brown All the leaves are brown And the sky is gray And the sky is gray I've been for a walk On a winter's day On a winter's day COYOTE: Throughout the 1960s, Stewart Udall would serve as Secretary of the Interior to presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, overseeing the most ambitious program of creating new parks since the time of Franklin Roosevelt.
The pace of population growth and development in the west gave Udall, a former Arizona Congressman, a sense of urgency.
"What we save now," he said, "may be all we save.
" He joined forces with the Sierra Club to push for creation of Redwood National Park along the northern coast of California, home to the tallest trees in the world, which over a lifetime spanning two millennia, can grow 300 feet high, requiring an environment of rainfall, fog, and soil found only in a narrow band of land a few hundred miles long.
By the 1960s, logging had cleared 85% of the original redwood forest.
The national park saved half of what remained.
In west Texas, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the ancient remains of an ocean reef rising out of the desert, had once been the home of grizzly bears, wolves, and buffalo, as well as the Mescalero Apaches, who used the mountain oasis as a refuge until they, too, were driven out.
"My Lord," Udall said when he first saw it, "what a paradise "that place is.
" He also supported North Cascades National Park, a roadless wilderness on the border of Washington and Canada, containing 318 glaciers in its jumble of mountains, nearly 1/3 of all the remaining glaciers in the lower 48 states.
And in the stark desert of eastern Utah, where the Green River meets the Colorado amidst a seemingly endless maze of meandering canyons, is a place John Wesley Powell had first described in 1869 as a "wilderness of rocks "and a world of grandeur.
" Powell had given the features he saw names like Cataract Canyon, the Dirty Devil, the Labyrinth.
A hundred years later, Udall helped give it all another name--Canyonlands National Park.
UDALL: I remember a night when I woke up.
We were camping up on the high cliffs, and I looked off into what is the Doll's House and the Maze, and the moon came through.
It was like I was transported into anther world.
There was a few minutes where I just felt that I was having an experience that I would never have again.
COYOTE: Udall also helped persuade Congress to set aside other parts of the American landscape and place them under Park Service protection.
National seashores from Cape Cod in Massachusetts to Padre Island in Texas to Point Reyes in California.
National lake shores like Indiana Dunes and Picture Rocks in the Great Lakes.
The Ozark National Scenic Riverway in Southwestern Missouri, the first in a string of rivers that would have portions kept in their free-flowing, natural conditions.
National trails like the Appalachian Trail, extending 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine.
And national recreation areas, often reservoirs behind the dams being built all over the west.
To help him, Udall named George Hartzog the new Park Service director, who brought to the job the same energy and back-slapping political skills Stephen Mather had used so successfully 50 years earlier.
Hartzog would push the Park Service to have a greater presence in urban areas, to serve minority populations that did not yet have a relationship with the parks, and to increase the number of historic and cultural sites.
To him, the park system's role in preserving and interpreting American history was just as crucial as protecting the large natural parks.
HARTZOG: My father, from South Carolina, only made one trip out of that state during his lifetime, and that was to visit our family here in Washington.
And he said, "I want to see the Lincoln Memorial.
" Abraham Lincoln was not a favorite historical personage in the low country of South Carolina when I was a boy growing up, and neither was he in my family and in our home, and I was surprised that the only thing he wanted to see in Washington D.
C.
was the Lincoln Memorial.
I started to get out of the car, and he said, "No, I want "to go alone," and I sat there and watched him walk those steps, and he got there and stopped and faced Lincoln and turned to the right and went around that memorial and read every saying of Lincoln's and came back and got in the car.
Tears were welling in his eyes, although they were not running, and he said to me, "I'm now ready to go home.
" That's what they mean.
CROWD SINGING: We shall overcome COYOTE: On August 28, 1963, Hartzog witnessed a much larger crowd at the Lincoln Memorial when a quarter of a million people converged on the National Mall as part of the March on Washington to protest the Jim Crow laws that still discriminated against African Americans in the south and to call on Congress to pass a civil rights bill to bring them to an end.
There, a young minister named Martin Luther King Jr.
, who had recently been jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, who the director of the FBI considered a Communist sympathizer and whose life was in constant danger from people who hated the color of his skin and everything he stood for, gave a speech that would be considered a turning point in American history.
KING: I have a dream that my 4 little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today! [Cheering and applause] This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet "land of liberty, of thee I sing.
"Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims' pride, "from every mountainside, let freedom ring.
" And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
[Cheering and applause] And when this happens, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children-- black men and white men, Je and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics--will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old negro spiritual, "Free at last, free at least, thank God "Almighty, we're free at last!" [Cheering and applause] HARTZOG: What higher purpose can a national park serve than to be responsive to the crisis in our society, to the voice of the underprivileged, to the voice of the protester who's objecting to the institutional status quo, who is seeing a need beyond where we are? It was of the same dimension as the first time I stood on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and looked at that magnificent canyon in front of me.
These are everlasting moments that stay with you and influence your life all your life.
FRANKLIN: The idea of the national parks certainly was appreciated by Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s.
A century later, here is Martin Luther King giving his great speech "I Have a Dream" before a vast audience, before Abraham Lincoln, and with a park ranger standing by him.
You have this sweep of history.
You have these dramatic turns.
You have these marvelous coincidences and ramifications that extend from Lincoln to King, from the idea of the national park to the Park Service officer standing by King when he gives his "I Have a Dream" speech.
The parallels of history are infinite and limitless.
COYOTE: 5 years later, Dr.
King would be assassinated.
12 years after that, his birthplace in Atlanta, Georgia, would be dedicated as a historic site, part of the national park system.
[Wolf howls] MAN AS ADOLPH MURIE: We were approaching our cabin one stormy night.
It was snowing and getting dark, and out of the storm came music, the long, drawn, mournful call of a wolf.
It started low, moved slowly up the scale with increased volume.
At the high point, a slight break in the voice, then a deepening of the tone as it became a little more throaty and gradually descended the scale, and the soft voice trailed off to blend with the storm.
We waited to hear again the voice of wilderness, but the performer, with artistic restraint, was silent.
Adolph Murie.
I think we all pick up certain sounds or sights that are sort of symbolic, and I think that for Adolph, the sound of the wolf meant wild, nature, untamed but also a part of the planet, a part that we just can't do without.
[Wolf howls] He felt very much like Thoreau felt, I think, about wildness.
We got to have it.
COYOTE: When the Mission 66 plans had been unveiled for Mt.
McKinley National Park, they called for widening and paving the 90-mile rough and narrow gravel road that provided the only access into the park's interior.
The road would permit a showcase hotel near beautiful and quiet Wonder Lake, expanded campgrounds, gas stations, and a visitor center.
No one was surprised when Adolph Murie came out against it and submitted a detailed analysis to the park superintendent outlining his concerns.
MARTIN MURIE: Adolph was just passionately determined to stop that road, and he was a very stubborn person for what he believed in, and we need stubborn people.
He became more accepting, more diplomatic as time went on.
He became more forgiving, but he knew how to draw a line in the sand, and when it come to things like that, Wonder Park Road, he'd say no.
No.
BROWN: He was the conscience of the park.
He stood like a rock on these matters of principle.
He was not unduly cantankerous or aggressive.
He just lasted.
He just wore away at them like water on a granite boulder.
COYOTE: "My efforts were not appreciated," Murie said, and for the next two years, he was reassigned to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
When he was finally allowed to return to Alaska to continue his research, Murie was dismayed at what he found.
The first 13 miles of park road had been excavated and paved, and at mile 65, a visitor center was being constructed that looked, he said, "like a Dairy Queen.
" To stop further construction, he turned to his brother Olaus, now the director of the Wilderness Society, for help.
MARTIN MURIE: He kept telling Olaus, "Now, you got to write "about this road.
" He'd feed Olaus the data about the road and say, "Write about it.
You write beautifully.
"I can't do it.
You can do it.
" COYOTE: Olaus Murie was the perfect person to help.
He was accustomed to waging public campaigns and in a position to openly challenge the Park Service.
This time, the Park Service director listened.
That was the last frontier.
This is your last opportunity to save virgin America is Alaska, and it's enormous.
COYOTE: Hartzog stopped the roadwork where it was--13 miles widened and paved, another 17 widened but unpaved, and the remaining 60 miles to be kept in more or less the condition Adolph Murie had suggested--a narrow gravel pathway where, he said, "the feeling one gets is that "the road passes through a wilderness that comes up to "the road.
" It is still that way today.
MAN AS ADOLPH MURIE: Freedom prevails.
Even the bad wolf seeks an honest living as of yore.
He is a respected citizen, morally on a par with everyone else.
In our thinking of McKinley, let us not have puny thoughts.
Let us think on a greater scale.
Let us not have those of the future decry our smallness of concept and lack of foresight.
Adolph Murie.
RUNTE: By the 1960s, if you stood on Glacier Point and looked down at Yosemite Valley, you saw lights.
You saw fires.
You saw cars everywhere.
You looked down at that valley and you said to yourself, "This looks more like a city than it does a national park.
" COYOTE: For nearly a hundred years, one of the biggest attractions in Yosemite Valley had been the dramatic firefall.
Every evening in the summer season, as throngs gathered to watch, a huge bonfire would be built on Glacier Point, then pushed over the edge to cascade down toward the valley floor.
In 1968, Hartzog said no and ordered a stop to it.
HARTZOG: The firefall in that magnificent valley was about as appropriate as horns on a rabbit, and it should not be there.
It was an absolutely spectacular sight, but it was inappropriate for the silent tranquility and beauty of that great valley.
COYOTE: At Yellowstone, Hartzog also enforced what George Melendez Wright, Adolph Murie, and many other biologists had advocated years earlier--not just a paper policy against feeding the bears, which tourists and park officials had routinely ignored, but a concerted effort at weaning the bears from human food along the roadside or at garbage dumps.
SCHULLERY: They saw it as beneath the dignity of a national park-- that these bears should in some sense have a right to a more natural life and that people should be experiencing them in a more natural way.
COYOTE: New park policies now recommended placing scientific research as the basis for management decisions, emphasizing that the complex ecology of each park be restored to what it had once been and stating that a national park should represent a vignette of primitive America.
Slowly, in the tension between preservation and use, parks as nature's sanctuaries and parks as tourist resorts, things had begun to shift a little, back in nature's direction.
George Melendez Wright's old vision was finally being taken seriously.
MAN: I like the quiet out here.
I'm not pestered or bothered by a lot of people.
I am alone, but I am not lonely.
When you have plenty of interests, like the water and the woods, the birds and the fish, you don't get lonely.
Lancelot Jones.
COYOTE: By the 1960s, no one knew Biscayne Bay, off the southeastern tip of Florida, better than Lancelot Jones.
He had been born in the bottom of a small boat there in 1898 while his father was frantically sailing his pregnant mother toward a hospital in Miami.
From that time on, the bay had been his home.
His father, Israel Lafayette Jones, had risen up from slavery in North Carolina, migrated to Florida after the Civil War, and steadily improved life for himself and his Bahamian wife.
Eventually, he had managed to buy 3 of the small, uninhabited islands that separate Biscayne Bay from the Atlantic Ocean and began a profitable business growing key limes.
In honor of his favorite story, "The Knights "of the Round Table," he had proudly named his two sons King Arthur Jones and Sir Lancelot Jones, hoping, perhaps, Lancelot said later, that by giving us great names, we would become great men.
But 3 years after his father's death, the Hurricane of 1935 had laid waste to the family's lime crops and forced Lancelot into a new line of work as a fishing guide for wealthy visitors to Biscayne Bay.
By the 1960s, there were plenty to go around.
Just across a small channel from Jones' modest home on Porgy Key was the Cocolobo Club, an exclusive retreat for some of the multimillionaires who wintered at Miami Beach, men with names like Firestone, Maytag, Honeywell, and Hertz.
They had this exclusive club down there, and it was nice for them.
COYOTE: Lancelot Jones became the favorite fishing guide for them and for their politically well-connected friends.
GREENE: He was a tall, lanky kind of guy and very hospitable, and he seemed like a perfectly happy guy living out there by himself.
He knew a lot of people.
A lot of important people would stop by and visit him when they went down there, including all these big shots that belonged to that private club.
He knew where all the fish were and where everything else was, too, down there.
COYOTE: But other millionaires had other plans for the bay and its chain of more than 3 dozen pristine islands.
In 1961, a shipping tycoon announced he intended to construct a deep-water port, an oil refinery, and an industrial complex once he dredged a deeper channel through the shallow bay 8 miles out to the ocean.
At the same time, a group of developers proposed a bridge linking the mainland to the islands to do with them what had already happened at Miami Beach and Key Biscayne--a series of high-rise hotels, retail shopping centers, and private beachfront properties.
The organizers convinced authorities to create the city of Islandia and ferried a voting machine to Elliott Key, where they staged an election attended by 14 of the 18 registered voters, all of them absentee landowners hoping to cash in on the anticipated real estate boom.
Lancelot Jones, one of only two full-time residents of the new Islandia, was not among them.
He was against their plans and had also turned down offers from the refinery developer to buy Porgy Key.
MAN AS LANCELOT JONES: I never thought commercialization of this land was right.
I always felt this land was not right for development, that it should stay as it is.
COYOTE: Meanwhile, a small group had formed to fight both proposals.
Lloyd Miller, an avid fisherman, believed the refinery and seaport would turn one of Florida's most fertile fish-breeding grounds into a stagnant pool of oily water.
Juanita Greene, an enterprising young writer for the "Miami Herald," worried that the considerable financial interests behind both developments were steamrolling the plans toward hasty approval.
Her own newspaper supported the refinery.
She thought the public was not only being shut out of the decision but would also be denied access to precious waterfront once everything was completed.
It would become, she warned, "a rich man's paradise.
" GREENE: I could see that for the average Joe who wanted to go to the beach on Sunday afternoon, there were fewer and fewer places to go.
I didn't think that that was fair that only people who could live in the fancy hotels or the condominiums had access to the beach.
I objected mightily to it and wrote a story in which I said "This is a freak city with lots of power and no people.
" And it was true.
COYOTE: At a meeting held around her dining room table, Greene, Lloyd Miller, and another friend, Art Marshall, decided that the only way to stop the development of the islands was to make it a national park.
Greene persuaded her newspaper to at least cover the budding opposition movement and to allow her to write occasional opinion pieces advocating her point of view.
As the public leader of the opposition, Miller found his car sprayed with paint.
People urged his employer to fire him.
An anonymous caller threatened his family.
GREENE: And somebody poisoned his dog.
So Lloyd had to put up with a lot, but he was a determined man, and he was not gonna be run out of this.
COYOTE: Slowly their movement gained strength.
A slate of anti-refinery candidates was elected to the county commission.
Local political leaders withdrew their support for a bridge to the islands.
And after visiting the bay, Stewart Udall came out in favor of protecting it.
In October of 1968, Lloyd Miller was peering over the shoulder of President Johnson as he created Biscayne National Monument, saving 173,000 acres of the bay, coral reefs, and islands.
[Seagull cawing] MAN SINGING: Sitting in the mornin' sun COYOTE: The first private landowner to sell his land to the federal government for the new national monument was Lancelot Jones--277 acres on 3 islands on the condition that he be allowed to live out his life in the family home on Porgy Key.
MAN SINGING: Sittin' on the dock of the bay GREENE: And that's the kind of guy he was.
MAN SINGING: tide roll away GREENE: He was not one of these greedy people that was waiting for the developers to come pay him big bucks for his land.
He just liked things the way they were and was willing to help other people have an opportunity to enjoy the islands.
COYOTE: His favorite pastime was teaching small groups of schoolchildren about the bay's fish and sponges whenever the Park Service brought them to Porgy Key.
The only compensation he asked for was a key lime pie.
MAN SINGING: Watching the tide roll away MAN AS LANCELOT JONES: I like the name "monument.
" It mea that things here are going to stay pretty much as they are today.
Lancelot Jones.
[Singer whistling] MAN AS WALLACE STEGNER: The national park idea, the best idea we ever had, was inevitable as soon as Americans learned to confront the wild continent not with fear and cupidity, but with delight, wonder, and awe.
Once started, it grew like the backfire it truly was, burning backup wind against the current of claim and grab and raid proving that our rapacious society could hold its hand, at least in the presence of stupendous scenery, and learn to respect the earth for something besides its economic value.
Wallace Stegner.
COYOTE: On March 1, 1972, Yellowstone, the world's first national park, celebrated its centennial.
During its 100 years of existence, the park had seen its wildlife wantonly slaughtered by poachers and then protected by law.
Yellowstone had been guarded by cavalrymen and park rangers, defended by poets, and studied by scientists.
Endlessly painted and photographed by artists and amateurs alike, toured by one American president after another, seeking everything from exhilarating inspiration to simple relaxation.
Yellowstone had been the site of everything from Indian wars to bitter fights over the limits of commercial exploitation, battles over the value of nature, and a continuing argument over how Americans could enjoy its treasure house of wonders without ruining it for the next generation.
Along the way, Yellowstone had become one of the most recognizable symbols of America itself.
In 1972, Old Faithful, still spouting as regularly as it did when it got its name a century earlier, would thrill 2.
2 million people.
But they would represent a tiny fraction of the 165 million visitors who came that year to a park system that now had a presence in nearly every state in the union--38 national parks and roughly 200 historic sites, national monuments, and other places Americans had set aside for posterity.
By the 1970s, the park idea had spread from Yellowstone all the way around the world, ultimately becoming, like the idea of freedom itself, one of America's greatest exports-- more than 4,000 parks in nearly 200 nations.
MAN SINGING: Light out singing And walking in the morning sunshine Sunshine daydream COYOTE: But back in the United States, in the farthest corner of the nation, the national parks were about to experience their most dramatic expansion.
WOOD: Most people ask, "What brought you to Alaska?" but the question to ask is "What made you stay?" We just fell in love with the country.
The country told us what it should be and what it shouldn't be.
I think that being out there was a little bit like Conrad said of the sea--it's not for you or against you.
It's just very unforgiving of errors.
COYOTE: In the hundred years since Secretary of State William Seward had purchased it from Russia in 1867, Alaska had had the nickname Seward's Folly, especially by those who believed a territory so remote and so far north was a colossal waste of the $7.
2 million Seward had agreed to pay, even if it was more than twice the size of Texas.
John Muir had a different name for it.
MAN AS JOHN MUIR: To the lover of pure wildness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.
This is nature's own reservation, and every lover of wildness will rejoice with me that by kindly frost it is so well defended.
MAN: Alaska was the last chance to do it right.
This is it.
This is the end of the line.
So we buckled down, and it became a very serious affair about what to do with Alaska.
COYOTE: After Alaska was granted statehood in 1959, a federal law was passed to settle the claims of Alaska's native peoples, including the Inupiaq and the Tlingit, the Aleut and the Athabaskan.
The land was to be divided up, some for the new state to control and open for development if it wished, some for the tribes, and a portion to be withheld forever in the national interest for all Americans.
As the discovery of vast oil deposits on the north slope and the construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline demonstrated, the stakes were enormous.
The fight over what to do with the federal land would consume more than a decade and would quickly become a national one, waged in the halls of Congress, involving commercial and industrial groups capable of spending millions of dollars in advertising and lobbying, versus the Alaska Coalition, a collection of 50 environmental groups which quickly mushroomed to 1,500 organizations, representing 10 million members, most of whom had never set foot in Alaska.
It was the largest grassroots conservation effort in American history.
POPE: An entire generation came along and said, "We want "to be part of this," and for them, the Alaska battle was the culmination.
We'd passed clean air and clean water acts.
We'd passed the Wilderness Act.
We'd set aside millions of acres of wilderness in the 1970s, and suddenly we had a landscape where we could really save what was best about it.
People embraced it.
people rallied to it.
It was the chance to get it right.
COYOTE: In the mid-1970s, Congressman Morris Udall of Arizona, the brother of Stewart Udall, sponsored a bill setting aside 110 million acres of federally owned land in Alaska.
In May of 1978, Udall's bill passed overwhelmingly in the House--277 to 31.
But in the Senate, even though a clear majority favored the legislation, a threatened filibuster by Alaska Senator Mike Gravel tied things up, preventing a vote before Congress adjourned.
It appeared that the big dreams for preserving large sections of Alaska would be for nothing.
Then, President Jimmy Carter, acting on the recommendation of his Interior Secretary, Cecil Andrus, decided to bypass Congress and invoke the Antiquities Act, a tool presidents have been using in the name of conservation since Theodore Roosevelt.
On December 1, 1978, Carter took out his pen and signed executive orders creating 17 national monuments covering 56 million acres of the most critical areas in Udall's bill.
In Alaska, all hell broke loose.
MAN: I'd be in favor of sending a contingent of state troopers to Washington to arrest President Carter and Andrus for conspiracy to commit a felony, namely the theft of millions of acres of land in Alaska.
DIFFERENT MAN: In a new national monument near Mt.
McKinley, about 1,500 Alaskans staged what they said was a trespass.
They ran races, shot guns, claimed they had violated 27 laws, and dared park rangers to arrest them.
HEACOX: You have a frontier mentality in Alaska.
"We want to do things our way.
" The opposition was intense.
Park planes were burned.
President Carter was burned in effigy.
People protested in the streets.
RUNTE: In New York City, 99% of the people would be for the park.
In Alaska itself, 99% of the people in some of these towns were against the parks because they lived there, and they didn't see how the tourist industry was going to benefit them in any way.
COYOTE: To handle the volatile situation on the ground, the administration chose John Cook, a westerner who had earned a reputation as a tough problem-solver.
The parks were in his blood.
His father and his grandfather had worked at the Grand Canyon, and he joined the Park Service the day he graduated from high school, steadily working his way up the ladder.
COOK: When I stepped off the plane, I was the third least popular person in Alaska.
The least popular was President Carter.
Cecil Andrus was pretty unpopular as well.
He was the number two man, and then it was me.
We were told they would kill the first Park Service person that set foot in Duffy's Tavern in northeast Alaska.
4 days later, I walked into Duffy's Tavern with a tape recorder and a roll ofaps, wearing Alaska clothes, in the middle of winter flew a ski plane in and sat there with 200 people, half of them getting pretty tanked up, and faced them all, talked to them, told them what was gonna happen and what wasn't gonna happen.
COYOTE: On the Kenai Peninsula at the head of Resurrection Bay was the small town of Seward, named for the much-maligned politician who had made Alaska part of the United States.
Its economy revolved around fish harvesting and a commercial port that had briefly boomed with activity during the oil pipeline's construction.
Nearby was the Harding Icefield, a sheet of ice 700 square miles wide and one mile thick, spawning more than 30 glaciers, many of which descend directly to sea level, where they have carved a series of deep coastal fjords.
Their waters teem with wildlife--whales, sea lions, and seals beyond number.
Carter's proclamation had created a 570,000-acre Kenai Fjords National Monument in hopes it all would eventually become a national park.
The sentiment in Seward was dead-set against it.
Twice, the city council passed resolutions condemning the idea.
MAN: Beverly Dunham.
DUNHAM: Alaskans are being criticized for wanting as much of state lands under Alaskan control as possible.
We have been termed selfish for wanting development DUNHAM, VOICE-OVER: I was fearful of it.
I thought the same thing that most people did, that it was going to harm us.
Any interference by the federal government in any way was offensive to Alaskans in general and Sewardites in particular.
We were just fearful of what would happen to us.
COOK: I was sent up there to make it work, and what I did is I hand-picked people.
I brought up a task force the first year.
I said, "Whatever you do, never lie to the people.
"Don't whitewash anything.
Go from town to town.
"Live in the towns.
Be truthful.
" It's awfully hard to stay angry at your neighbor if your neighbor's a good neighbor.
Governor Hammond and I came up with a term that he used to help soften things, and that was that the new national monuments and tourism would be Alaska's permanent pipeline because we won't run out of visitors but in a long time run out of oil.
COYOTE: While John Cook tried to dampen the local hostility to Carter's proclamations, the Alaska Coalition prepared for another Congressional battle to settle all the Alaska land issues once and for all.
My friends, the vote you make in just a few moments is the one you've got to live with and your grandchildren have to live with.
There ought to be a few places left in the world the way the Almighty made them.
We'll never see a buffalo herd again, but if we're wise today, your grandchildren might be able to see a caribou herd.
This is the test of conservation in your Congressional career.
This will be the most important vote you will cast.
COYOTE: On December 2, 1980, after another year and a half of debate and compromise, President Carter signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act into law.
It wasn't everything he and the Alaska Coalition had once hoped for, but it was still the largest single expansion of protected conservation lands in world history, creating 4 national forests, 10 national preserves, 16 national wildlife refuges.
The national park system, with 47 million acres added to its care, had suddenly more than doubled in size.
Within those additions were 7 brand-new national parks.
WOMAN: I got a question which-- to write an article on why we need national parks, and the question struck me dumb for a minute.
It was like saying, "Why do we need air?" I mean, we need to have these places, even if I never go--the only place I've never been is Alaska.
Even if I never go to Alaska, I need to know it's there.
COYOTE: And at Seward, the national monument at Kenai Fjords became the seventh of the new national parks.
5 years later, as the tourist economy and Seward began to emerge as a crucial part of the town's livelihood, the city council quietly but officially rescinded its two previous resolutions denouncing the park idea.
Several years after that, they asked that the national park at their doorstep be expanded.
DUNHAM: I think it's great.
It has done a lot for Seward.
As far as tourism is concerned, it has made a vast difference.
There are, I think, a thousand seats on day cruisers that come in and take people out to the fjords.
It has proven that it hasn't hurt anything.
If anything, it's enhanced it.
COOK: And in Alaska, man was acknowledged.
The natives, who were a part of that landscape long before European man came and called it wilderness, were using it.
They still get to use it for subsistence purposes.
It's still a part of their culture, and they are a part of the preservation.
And it's not preserving museum Indians.
It's preserving a dynamic culture that's within a dynamic landscape that's also changing.
COYOTE: Mt.
McKinley National Park, which had been in existence since 1917, was also affected by the Alaska Lands Act.
Its area was nearly tripled in size--2.
4 million more acres to the park itself, plus an additional 1.
3 million acres in two national preserves next to it--a dramatically larger expansion than even Adolph Murie had proposed just before his retirement.
The old park, surrounded by the new additions, was now officially designated a wilderness, bringing with it even greater protections to the land and animals Murie had championed.
And as if to symbolize all that had happened, the park's name was changed to reflect its deeper history.
It would revert to the Athabaskan Indian name for the tremendous mountain at its core--Denali, the high one.
COOK: History will, of course, view the creation of those national parks along with Seward's purchase of Alaska.
History will show that it was the right thing to do.
COYOTE: John Cook would soon go back to the lower 48 to become superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
As his father and his father's father had done, he would pass on his love for the national parks to his children, including his daughter Kayci, who would become the fourth generation of the Cook family to serve in the Park Service.
KAYCI COOK: At the end of my father's career in 1999, I had become what I always wanted to be, a superintendent, and I used my power in that position to honor my father for his 43- year career with the National Park Service, and I invoked the tradition of the military tattoo at Fort McHenry National Monument Historic Shrine, and I bestowed upon my father the title of Honorary Colonel of the Fort McHenry Guard.
I felt very proud doing that for him, and as we stood up and saluted one another, commander to commander, I felt much more strongly that it was a mantle that he was passing to me much more than anything that I was giving to him.
I have a 4-year-old son, Sean, and he has already expressed an interest in being a ranger like his mommy.
He sees me put this uniform on every day.
He loves to wear my hat around.
I think he's showing some real promise in terms of being a fifth generation, and that would not hurt my feelings.
[Car horn honks] MAN: When I was a child in Detroit, national parks really didn't exist.
There were no family trips to national parks, so it really didn't exist for me and for my friends.
We didn't sit around talking about, "Boy, can't wait to get "to the Grand Canyon," you know.
That didn't come up as a topic of conversation in Detroit for me as a child.
But always, there was this desire to see Yellowstone.
There was a desire to see the Grand Canyon, to see Yosemite.
There was a desire to fully invest my physical self and my spiritual self in America because that's a part of America that I didn't know, and I wanted to become familiar with it.
COYOTE: In 1984, Shelton Johnson became the first generation of his family to visit a national park when he stepped off a bus at the entrance to Yellowstone and immediately fell in love with everything it offered.
Johnson soon started a career in the Park Service and by the 1990s he was working in Yosemite as an interpretive ranger, proudly telling visitors the little-known story of the African American buffalo soldiers, the park's earliest protectors.
In the last decades of the 20th century, the focus of the Park Service shifted.
More and more historic sites were saved, including reminders of painful episodes in American history, set aside on the belief that a great nation could openly acknowledge them.
From Kingsley Plantation in Florida, preserving not only the owner's grand home, but also the cluster of small cabins used by the slaves who made his comfortable life possible.
The central high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, where in 1957 federal troops had to escort 9 African American teenagers past angry mobs to their classes, crystallizing the crisis of school desegregation.
From Andersonville, a deadly Civil War prison camp in Georgia to a polished slab of marble in Washington D.
C.
listing the names of 58,000 dead and missing soldiers who served their country in Vietnam.
From Sand Creek and Washita on the Great Plains, where Chief Black Kettle's peaceful Cheyenne villagers were massacred by American soldiers.
To Manzanar in the high desert of eastern California, where American citizens of Japanese descent were kept behind barbed wire during World War II.
From Oklahoma City, where 168 empty chairs now commemorate the men, women, and children killed in a senseless act of domestic terrorism in 1995.
To a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, that immortalizes the sacrifices made by passengers aboard United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001.
CRONON: When you're asked, "Well, what is coherent "about a system that contains natural wonders "and birthplaces of famous people?" I think the answer you come to is that they are all finally about a vision of where the United States comes from.
We come from nature, but we also come from our own past, and so the interpretation of nature and history together is not a distraction that the parks face.
It is the very core of the enterprise.
They are all about where we come from.
COYOTE: In the years to come, Americans would continue expanding the number of national parks and continue using them in ever-increasing numbers, from 255 million visitors in 1990, then closing in on 300 million visitors a decade later--each visit an opportunity to forge a new relationship to their land, their nation, and themselves.
MAN: We need national parks to have people--especially our kids--understand what America is.
America is not sidewalks.
America is not stores.
America is not video games.
America is not restaurants.
We need national parks so people can go there and say, "Ah.
This is America.
" DUNCAN: And then it was my turn to take my family out to see the national parks.
It was gonna be our own epic journey as a family.
If there's a national park between Arizona and the Canadian border along the spine of the Rocky Mountains, we went there.
We broiled in the sun in Arches and Canyonlands, went and visited Dinosaur as I had when I was a small boy, hiked around Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons, then to wear bear bells, which was very exciting for the kids because bears might be around.
At Yellowstone, I got to watch my children see their first bison.
And then we came to Glacier National Park, and it was something of a sentimental return for Diane and me because 13 years earlier, when we were courting, we had gone there.
And as we went up Going to the Sun Highway, I took a picture of my daughter, about to become a beautiful woman in the same place that her beautiful mother had once sat for a photograph, and then we got to Logan Pass, and my son Will and I decided to go on a buddy hike and headed up toward Hidden Lake.
And we came around a corner, and coming toward us were these mountain goats.
And I said, "Shh.
Just be quiet.
"Don't do anything to disturb them, and maybe we'll get to "take a picture.
" Well, we just stepped to the side, and this family of mountain goats came right down the trail within about 2 or 3 feet of us, and I don't know whose eyes were bigger, Will's or mine.
I had asked everybody to keep a diary during our trip, and that night in his diary, Will wrote, "This was the most "exciting day of my life.
" And so it was the most exciting day of my life, too.
COYOTE: In January of 1995, a convoy of trucks entered Yellowstone National Park at its northern gate, where a stone arch dedicated by Theodore Roosevelt proclaims the park's purpose--"for the benefit and enjoyment "of the people.
" Riding in cages in the trucks were 14 gray wolves recently captured in western Canada.
Two months later, after being kept in small pens to acclimate them to their new surroundings, the wolves were set free, part of a long-range plan to reestablish the predators in their former habitat and make the world's first national park a little more representative of what it had once been.
I keep imagining that first wolf coming out of its cage, and I think of Adolph being there, and he probably would have cried.
Just think--we now have wolves in Yellowstone.
COYOTE: Within only a few years, the wolves were thriving--part, once more, of the entire Yellowstone ecosystem.
WHITTLESEY: I was in the back country with one of my good friends, and we're standing out there in the dark, and we hear this long, low, throaty howl, and I'd never heard that sound before.
[Wolves howling] And I knew immediately what it was, and I remember standing there thinking "I am so lucky to get to hear that "sound that has not been heard in the back country "of Yellowstone for 60-some years.
" WILLIAMS: I think our challenge as lovers of our national parks in the 21st century will be the challenge of restoration.
I think that's the story that's yet to be told, the story of restoration.
And not only are our national parks a gift, I think they're a covenant.
They're a covenant with the future, saying, "This is "where we were.
"This is what we loved "and now it's in your hands.
" MAN: One learns that the world, though made, is yet being made, that this is still the morning of creation.
This grand show is eternal.
It is always sunrise somewhere.
The dew is never all dried at once.
A shower is forever falling.
Vapor is ever rising.
Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming.
On sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.
John Muir.