"The National Parks: America's Best Idea"
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Season: 1
Year: 2009


Season 1


Season 1, Episode 1: The Scripture of Nature: 1851-1890

27 September 2009
A study of the first ideas which led to the establishment of America's national parks, with an emphasis on the work of John Muir and the exploration and preservation of Yosemite and Yellowstone.

Peter Coyote ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Dayton Duncan ... Himself - Writer
Carl Pope ... Himself - Sierra Club
Clay Jenkinson ... Himself - Historian
William Cronon ... Himself - Historian
Shelton Johnson ... Himself - Park Ranger
Alfred Runte ... Himself - Historian
Lee Stetson ... Himself - Muir Historian (voice)

Adam Arkin ... Reader (voice)
Gretel Ehrlich ... Herself - Writer

Philip Bosco ... Reader (voice)
Terry Tempest Williams ... Herself - Writer
Gerard Baker ... Himself - Park Superintendent
Kevin Conway ... Reader (voice)

Tom Hanks ... Reader (voice)
Lee Whittlesey ... Himself - Historian

Josh Lucas ... Reader (voice)
Paul Schullery ... Himself - Writer
Kim Heacox ... Himself - Writer

Carolyn McCormick ... Reader (voice)

Tom Bodett ... Reader (voice)
Tim Clark ... Reader (voice)
Murphy Guyer ... Reader (voice)

Gene Jones ... Reader (voice)

Amy Madigan ... Reader (voice)

Eli Wallach ... Reader (voice)

Season 1, Episode 2: The Last Refuge: 1890-1915

28 September 2009
At the end of the 19th century, some Americans begin to question the nation's headlong rush across the continent that has devastated forests and ravaged entire species of animals. Conservation's greatest champion is the new president, Theodore Roosevelt, who creates parks and wildlife refuges, and then audaciously uses the Antiquities Act to set aside 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon as a national monument. John Muir fights the battle of his life to prevent the city of San Francisco from burying the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park under a reservoir, and dies broken-hearted after he loses.

Peter Coyote ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Shelton Johnson ... Himself - Park Ranger
Clay Jenkinson ... Himself - Historian
Terry Tempest Williams ... Herself - Writer
William Cronon ... Himself - Historian
Paul Schullery ... Himself - Writer
Gretel Ehrlich ... Herself - Writer
Dayton Duncan ... Himself - Writer
Duane Smith ... Himself - Historian
Stewart L. Udall ... Himself - Former Interior Secretary
Juanita Greene ... Herself - Journalist
Alfred Runte ... Himself - Historian
Carl Pope ... Himself - Sierra Club
Lee Stetson ... Himself - Muir Historian

Philip Bosco ... Reader (voice)
Tim Clark ... Reader (voice)
Kevin Conway ... Reader (voice)
Murphy Guyer ... Reader (voice)

Tom Hanks ... Reader (voice)

Derek Jacobi ... Reader (voice)

Gene Jones ... Reader (voice)
Marcus Lovell Smith ... Reader (voice)

Josh Lucas ... Reader (voice)

Amy Madigan ... Reader (voice)

Carolyn McCormick ... Reader (voice)

Campbell Scott ... Reader (voice)

Season 1, Episode 3: The Empire of Grandeur: 1915-1919

29 September 2009
America boasts a dozen national parks as the park idea turns 50 years old. A millionaire businessman named Stephen Mather impulsively accepts the offer to oversee them for one year. Mather and his right-hand-man Horace Albright launch a campaign to publicize the parks as a unified system and to persuade Congress to create a single agency to oversee it: the National Park Service, established in 1916. Mount McKinley, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Acadia and Hawaii's volcanoes are set aside as national parks, but Mather's top priority is in Arizona. After a bitter fight, the Grand Canyon is designated a National Park in 1919.

Peter Coyote ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Shelton Johnson ... Himself - Park Ranger
William Cronon ... Himself - Historian
Kim Heacox ... Himself - Writer
Terry Tempest Williams ... Herself - Writer
Carl Pope ... Himself - Sierra Club
Dayton Duncan ... Himself - Writer
George Hartzog ... Himself - Former Park Service Director
Alfred Runte ... Himself - Historian
Gerard Baker ... Himself - Park Superintendent
Judith Goldstein ... Herself - Writer
Brad Washburn ... Himself - Explorer
Bill Brown ... Himself - Historian
Barbara Washburn ... Herself - Explorer
J.L. Crawford ... Himself - Former Ranger

Sam Waterston ... Reader (voice)

Adam Arkin ... Reader (voice)
Trina Carmody ... Reader (voice)
Murphy Guyer ... Reader (voice)

Derek Jacobi ... Reader (voice)

Josh Lucas ... Reader (voice)
Lee Stetson ... Reader (voice)

Philip Bosco ... Reader (voice)
Kevin Conway ... Reader (voice)

Tom Hanks ... Reader (voice)

John Lithgow ... Reader (voice)

Campbell Scott ... Reader (voice)

John Trudell ... Reader (voice)

Season 1, Episode 4: Going Home: 1920-1933

30 September 2009
As the nation enters the 1920s, Stephen Mather and Horace Albright ally themselves with the automobile to "democratize" the national parks and attract more Americans to them. Nebraskans Margaret and Edward Gehrke begin collecting parks each summer, while Glenn and Bessie Hyde spend their honeymoon in a homemade boat on the raging Colorado river through the Grand Canyon. Horace Kephart, a reclusive writer, and George Masa, a Japanese immigrant and photographer, launch a campaign to save the virgin forests of the Smoky Mountains from destruction by making it a national park.

Peter Coyote ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Ruth Kirk ... Herself - Writer
Dayton Duncan ... Himself - Writer
Alfred Runte ... Himself - Historian
William Cronon ... Himself - Historian
Lee Whittlesey ... Himself - Historian
Paul Schullery ... Himself - Writer
John Cook ... Himself - Former Park Superintendent
Nevada Barr ... Herself - Former Ranger
J.L. Crawford ... Himself - Former Ranger
Shelton Johnson ... Himself - Park Ranger
Tuan Luong ... Himself - Photographer
Marian Albright Schenck ... Herself - Daughter of Horace Albright

Carolyn McCormick ... Reader (voice)

Adam Arkin ... Reader (voice)
Murphy Guyer ... Reader (voice)

Derek Jacobi ... Reader (voice)

Amy Madigan ... Reader (voice)

Eli Wallach ... Reader (voice)
Kevin Conway ... Reader (voice)

Tom Hanks ... Reader (voice)

Gene Jones ... Reader (voice)
Sho Wada ... Reader (voice)

Sam Waterston ... Reader (voice)

Season 1, Episode 5: Great Nature: 1933-1945

1 October 2009
A new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, expands the national park idea to embrace battlefields and other historic and iconic sites. He enters pitched battles to create national parks on the Olympic Peninsula, Florida's Everglades, Wyoming's Teton Mountains, and California's High Sierra; he also creates the Civilian Conservation Corps to provide young men with jobs improving conditions at national parks. George Melendez Wright, a young Park Service employee, begins arguing that the parks are not doing enough to protect wildlife in their natural state. In Seattle, Iwao and Hanaye Matsushita fall in love with Mount Rainier National Park; and in California, another Japanese immigrant, Chiura Obata, finds inspiration for his art in Yosemite. When they are interned during World War II, they all find solace in their memories of the national parks of their adopted country.

Peter Coyote ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Nevada Barr ... Herself - Former Ranger
Shelton Johnson ... Himself - Park Ranger
William Cronon ... Himself - Historian
Carl Pope ... Himself - Sierra Club
Marian Albright Schenck ... Herself - Daughter of Horace Albright
Paul Schullery ... Himself - Writer
Kim Heacox ... Himself - Writer
Juanita Greene ... Herself - Journalist
Alfred Runte ... Himself - Historian
Dayton Duncan ... Himself - Writer
Juan Lujan ... Himself - Resident of Redford, Texas
Burton Appleton ... Himself - Resident of Brooklyn, New York
Claude Tyler ... Himself - Resident of Blossom, Texas
Pamela Wright Lloyd ... Herself - Daughter of George Melendez Wright
Ernest Ortega ... Himself - Former Park Superintendent
Kimi Kodani Hill ... Herself - Granddaughter of Chiura Obata
Kenneth Brower ... Himself - Writer
Martin Murie ... Himself - Writer
Clifford Hansen ... Himself - Former Governor & Senator, Wyoming
Terry Tempest Williams ... Herself - Writer

Philip Bosco ... Reader (voice)
Tim Clark ... Reader (voice)

Tom Hanks ... Reader (voice)

Amy Madigan ... Reader (voice)

Yumi Mizui ... Reader (voice)
Kevin Conway ... Reader (voice)

Andy Garcia ... Reader (voice)

James Kyson ... Reader (voice) (as James Kyson-Lee)
Albert McFadyen ... Reader (voice)

George Takei ... Chiura Obata (voice)

Season 1, Episode 6: The Morning of Creation: 1946-1980

2 October 2009
After World War II, an increasingly mobile and affluent nation begins placing demands on the parks as never before, and the parks are in danger of being "loved to death." A Park Service biologist named Adolph Murie argues that ingrained practices such as killing predators runs counter to the purpose of national parks, while David Brower of the Sierra Club mobilizes public opinion to defeat Congressional proposals for dams in pristine places. In the 1970s, when President Jimmy Carter uses the Antiquities Act to set aside 56 million acres in Alaska, a huge uproar results -- and the largest grassroots movement in conservation history fights for the creation of seven new Alaska parks, adding 47 million acres, more than doubling the size of the park system.

Peter Coyote ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Dayton Duncan ... Himself - Writer
William Cronon ... Himself - Historian
Paul Schullery ... Himself - Writer
George Hartzog ... Himself - Former Park Service Director
Lee Whittlesey ... Himself - Historian
Bill Brown ... Himself - Historian
Martin Murie ... Himsel - Nephew of Adolph Murie
Ginny Wood ... Herself - Alaskan Bush Pilot
Terry Tempest Williams ... Herself - Writer
Richard Bradley ... Himself - Son of Harold Bradley
Kenneth Brower ... Himself - Writer
Carl Pope ... Himself - Sierra Club
Alfred Runte ... Himself - Historian

John Hope Franklin ... Himself - Historian
Stewart L. Udall ... Himself - Former Interior Secretary
Juanita Greene ... Herself - Journalist
Kim Heacox ... Himself - Writer
John Cook ... Himself - Former Park Superintendent
Bev Dunham ... Herself - Seward Resident
Nevada Barr ... Herself - Former Ranger
Kayci Cook Collins ... Herself - Park Superintendent
Shelton Johnson ... Himself - Park Ranger
Gerard Baker ... Himself - Park Superintendent

Adam Arkin ... Reader (voice)
Murphy Guyer ... Reader (voice)

Carl Lumbly ... Reader (voice)

Philip Bosco ... Reader (voice)

John Lithgow ... Reader (voice)
Lee Stetson ... Reader (voice)

Eli Wallach ... Reader (voice)

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