Adirondacks on PBS World

Mon, 08/16/2010 - 7:00pm
Lake George viewed from the top of Tongue Mountain.

WNED Buffalo/Toronto and Working Dog Productions

An in-depth look at the sprawling and magnificant Adirondacks.

Sprawled across six million acres in upstate New York, Adirondack Park is by far the largest park in the lower 48 states. Yet it is the only one on the continent in which large human populations live and whose land is divided almost evenly between protected wilderness and privately owned tracts. This patchwork pattern of land ownership has created an utterly unique place that maintains, at its very heart, a delicate and dynamic relationship between progress and preservation. Through the varied perspectives of several passionate characters, the high-definition special The Adirondacks, encoring Monday, August 16, at 7 p.m. on PBS World (cable 524/DT21.2), explores the remarkable history, seasonal landscape and current state of the Adirondacks.

The Adirondacks is organized by the four seasons. This is essential to understanding the rhythm of life in the park, where human activity, like nature itself, ebbs and flows with the coming of spring, summer, fall and winter. The seasonal introductions include brief essays by Adirondack naturalist and author Ed Kanze. Accompanied by a musical score by Michael Bacon (brother of Kevin) of the Bacon Brothers Band, the scenic visual essays help viewers understand how close to nature many Adirondackers live.

Among others, the film features a craftsman restoring one of the legendary Great Camps, rustic retreats for the super rich of a bygone era; an Olympic hopeful training in Lake Placid, home to two historic Winter Games; a young visitor climbing his first Adirondack High Peak; and North Country Public Radio reporter Brian Mann’s story on proposed development in Tupper Lake. Each segment displays the astounding rustic and rugged qualities of the vast wilderness in vivid detail.

“Above all, it is the passionate characters, each with a unique perspective on the region, that bring this extraordinary land to life,” says producer Tom Simon. “The Adirondacks’ towns, villages and scattered residents comprise a year-round population of about 130,000. These ‘islands of people in a sea of wilderness’ are one of the most unique features of the Adirondacks. It is what has made it both treasured and contested terrain for all of its modern history — a major theme of our program.”

The Adirondacksconveys why living within these protected lands makes for an extraordinary human existence. For many people, questions about the relationship between man and nature are largely theoretical; Adirondackers, however, confront these issues in their everyday lives as loggers, conservationists, innkeepers, artists or athletes. As viewers get to know these engaging characters, they may contemplate their relationship with the natural world in a different light.