As THIS AMERICAN LAND enters it’s 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 –
What was your favorite story from season 6?
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.
What inspires you about being part of the team at THIS AMERICAN LAND?
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 season five in the comments!