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Local Events to Launch TV series The National Parks: America's Best Idea

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Contact: Vickie Devenport, WSIU Outreach Coordinator and SIRIS Director,
(618) 453-6148, vickie.devenport@wsiu.org

Carbondale, IL- Ken Burns' new documentary, The National Parks: America's Best Idea will premiere on Sunday, September 27 at 7pm on WSIU Television. The six-part series will continue each evening at 7pm through Friday, October 2. The narrative traces the birth of the national park idea in the mid-1800s and follows its evolution for nearly 150 years. The series chronicles the steady addition of new parks through the stories of the people who helped create them and save them from destruction. It is simultaneously a biography of compelling characters and of the American landscape. The National Parks is sponsored regionally on WSIU TV8 and WUSI TV16 by Walgreens and by the Department of Forestry in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

As part of WSIU's local community engagement activities associated with The National Parks series, WSIU TV's weekly magazine-style news series, WSIU InFocus, will feature members of the Cherokee bicycle team for the Trail of Tears Remember the Removal Project. The cyclists passed through Southern Illinois in early July while retracing the path taken by the Cherokee during their forced migration west in the 1830s. The broadcast will air Friday, October 16 at 9pm.

With support of a grant from WETA in Washington, D.C., WSIU Public Broadcasting, the Shawnee National Forest, and the Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears are co-sponsoring two special events in October in conjunction with the launch of The National Parks TV series. WSIU's local initiative, “Touch the Trail,” focuses on our regional connection to the National Park Service through the National Historic Trails System and the National Historic Trail of Tears. The community activities raise awareness of the National Historic Trail of Tears and the beautiful public lands in the Shawnee National Forest. Together, WSIU and our partners, will host the Trail of Tears Volunteer Work Day on Saturday, October 10 from 8am to 3pm on the Crabb/Abbott Farm in Pope County. Participants will help restore a segment of the original trail bed of the Trail of Tears and enjoy hands-on experiences while learning about our region's history and Native American heritage.

Transportation is available but limited. Anyone interested in participating must pre-register by Thursday, October 8 by calling the Volunteer Hotline at (618) 687-1731, extension 125. Volunteers must be at least 12 years old to participate and an adult must accompany all children. Lunch and drinks will be provided.

On Saturday, October 17, WSIU will host a special one-day tour beginning on the western side of the Trail of Tears route in southern Illinois and ending at the Trail of Tears State Park in Jackson, Missouri. Board members from the Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will provide interpretation of the sites that are visited. The tour will begin at 9am in the Arena Parking lot at Southern Illinois University and return to the lot by 5pm. The Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will provide docents for the tour who will share information about the Camp Ground Church Cemetery in Union County and the final encampment in Union County near Jonesboro. Lunch will be provided for the participants at the Trail of Tears Lodge. Following lunch, the buses will continue to the Trail of Tears State Park for a guided tour of the visitors' center and the grounds overlooking the location where the detachments crossed the Mississippi.

Anyone interested in participating in the one-day tour must pre-register by October 8. Space is limited and seats will be available on a first-come, first served basis. To make a reservation or for more information, contact Vickie Devenport at (618) 453-6148 or vickie.devenport@wsiu.org.

Funding for The National Parks: America's Best Idea is provided by General Motors; Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations; Park Foundation, Inc.; Public Broadcasting Service; National Park Foundation; The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation; The Pew Charitable Trusts; and Bank of America.

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