Outdoor Retailers Partner with Documentary Film Maker

According to the Salt Lake Tribune:

By Tom Wharton
Posted: 01/22/2009 04:35:00 PM MST

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns appeared at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Show on Jan. 22 to talk about his new series, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” which will air on PBS stations in September.

After Burns spoke at Thursday’s Outdoor Industry Breakfast at the Downtown Marriott in Salt Lake City, kicking off the annual Outdoor Retailer Winter Market at the Salt Palace, the merger of historian and industry made perfect sense.

Burns, who earned critical acclaim for documentaries about the Civil War, baseball and jazz, recently completed a 12-hour, six-part series that he described as his best work, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” which will air on PBS stations in September.

Working with the outdoor industry, he helped produce a kit to help retailers promote not only the documentary but the idea of getting more people, especially the young, outdoors. The kit encourages retailers to co-host special outdoor events in September, sponsor park of the month nights, host a park lecture series, promote local outdoor or nature clubs, sponsor photo and essay contests, or host family camp-outs.

Burns said such efforts are especially appropriate in difficult economic times.

“It’s paradoxical but in the toughest times of the Great Depression, the national parks thrived as never before,” he said. “We fell back on resources we didn’t know we needed.”

Mike Wallenfels, who heads the Outdoor Industry Association Board, said the industry is surprisingly healthy as families seek low-cost ways to recreate and spend time together.

In an interview prior to the show, Burns said national parks managers must deal with the paradox of the agency’s mission — provide access to citizens while preserving the land for future generations. That’s the heart of the story he is trying to tell in his new series.