As THIS AMERICAN LAND enters its seventh season, coming soon to PBS stations nationwide, Series Host Ed Arnett reflects on his second year in season six and looks forward to what's coming up next -
Ed Arnett: The story on the Chenier Plain and coastal restoration was my debut as a field correspondent and was a really great story on a major conservation issue in the Gulf Coast region. We know what the problem is - loss of coastal marshes that buffer storm surges and salt water intrusion that kills marsh systems - and we even know some good solutions, but the problem is one of resources and time to heal the landscape and improve its condition. The good news is that this region recently received millions of dollars for coastal restoration from the federal government's settlement with British Petroleum after the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. I'd like to believe that somehow our story helped educate the public and decision-makers to help make this happen. But the troubles in the Gulf region continue, as we saw this past summer with hurricane Harvey and other storms that continue to chunk away as coastal marshes. Everyone in America should watch this episode and learn about why the Gulf matters to all of us and to appreciate the effort, resources and time needed to turn this situation around.
We also did a fantastic 5-part series on bobwhite quail last season. Most Americans wouldn't think a common species like bobwhites have been in serious decline - but they have, and it's all about loss of their habitat. We highlight different regions of the country and landowners, wildlife and natural resources professionals, and landowners making a difference to reverse habitat loss and declines in quail populations. But the most important thing for people to know is that management of habitat for a gamebird like quail extends far beyond just that critter - good quail management benefits hundreds of species of plants and animals and demonstrates how good conservation across the landscape allows for balancing the needs of wildlife, clean water, and the needs of humans too.
I've been humbled the past two seasons to work with such a great team on a television series that truly brings real-life conservation right into the living rooms of all who watch. Informing people about real issues and how to solve them is so important, especially now as our society increasingly is becoming more urban and disconnected with the outdoors. It is vital that we communicate why conservation is so incredibly important to all of our lives.
Theodore Roosevelt once boldly claimed that "there can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country," spoken at a time of extreme exploitation and expansion by Americans across the country. I would argue that this position rings even louder today. Roosevelt also stated that "conservation means development as much as it does protection." He went on to note that he recognized the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land, but did not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. That quote captures the essence and true meaning of conservation and why it is so important to all Americans. It also encompasses the vision of This American Land - highlighting not only key issues conservation, but also balanced solutions to complex problems that affect real people. I'm inspired and proud to play a role in communicating to the American public what conservation is, why it is important, and what people are doing about it for current and future generations.
Stay tuned for more field notes. In the meantime, share your favorite story from THIS AMERICAN LAND
April 14, 2016
As our production team prepares for season six of THIS AMERICAN LAND, coming soon to PBS stations nationwide, Series Host Ed Arnett reflects on his first experience in season five and looks forward to what’s coming up –
Ed Arnett: I really liked all of our stories from last season because they were so well done and informative. But I’m also a little biased, as my participation in the sage grouse story spawned my new adventures with This American Land and joining as the new host! More important though, that story was very timely and presented the key issues surrounding sage grouse and the sagebrush ecosystem to our viewers. In my 25+ year career as a wildlife biologist, I’ve never seen a greater effort to coordinate landscape conservation and management of an entire ecosystem like we saw for sage grouse – at it paid off in September last year when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined the grouse did not warrant Endangered Species Act protection. I’m looking forward to telling our audience more about how sage grouse and sagebrush conservation developed and why it is so important to the American people.
I also really liked the story on Bristol Bay. This unique area is so incredibly important to the local, state and national economies and the traditions and values of local people in the region. Bristol Bay also provides some amazing recreational opportunities for any American who wants to venture there and experience it. The story truly epitomizes why our natural resources are so important to all Americans and why some areas are just too special to develop for other values.
I was truly flattered and honored to be offered the opportunity to join this ground-breaking series. What inspired me was the opportunity
to take my career experience as a biologist, work with my colleagues and partners across the country and generate new ideas and
stories that need to be told to our audience. A challenge for many natural resource professionals is the ability to convey their
messages about science, management, and conservation of our natural resources to the general public. We have to make conservation
relevant to real people who often are disconnected with nature. If we don’t tell the important stories about wildlife, public
lands, clean water, improving development and reducing impacts on the environment, and highlight the people making these things
happen, we will see a broadening disconnection as our society changes. When people lose interest or simply don’t know about nature,
their support for conservation will wane or never be established. THIS AMERICAN LAND is a fabulous bridge to reconnect
all Americans to the natural world and what conservation means for all of us and that’s what inspired me the most – the opportunity
to help build and maintain that bridge!
Stay tuned for more field notes. In the meantime, share your favorite story from season five in the comments!