California Forever is a two-part series that tells the history and legacy of California’s magnificent state parks, from Yosemite in 1864 to the present day. It is also the story of how the ‘park idea’ first started in California and led to the creation of the national park system. Together, the two one-hour episodes illustrate the importance of California’s state parks for preserving the state’s history, culture, and environment, as well as for public enjoyment. Many of the state’s parks, now national icons, are facing a variety of challenges today.
Episode One – California Forever: The History of California State Parks
Highlights the discovery and creation of California’s state parks system and profiles the individuals and groups whose passion helped preserve and protect them for future generations, including John Muir. The episode takes viewers on a scenic, cultural and historical tour of California’s state parks, highlighting key events and historic places that are crucial chapters of the California story, including Spanish colonists at Old Monterey, fortune seekers in Gold Country, the ill-fated Donner Party, and native tribes on the North Coast.
Episode Two – California Forever: Parks for the Future
Presents the very real challenges that state parks currently face in California today, including habitat destruction by overuse; protection of native species at the expense of recreation; climate change; encroachment of private industry; and park closures due to state budget cuts. Episode two also profiles the diverse cultures that made California home, commemorated in many parks, and the challenge of making state parks more accessible to people of all backgrounds.
Reviews & Awards“California Forever offers educators an invaluable classroom tool for heightening interest in and understanding of American history. Through its vivid exploration of the Golden State’s rich heritage of cultural and natural landscapes, this two-part program makes clear how the building blocks of history—people, ideas, events—are tempered by the natural environment that envelops them.”
–Jeffrey K. Stine; Curator of Environmental History, Smithsonian Institution
“Beautifully integrates the history of the ‘park idea’ with a balanced treatment of current challenges to park management of competing visions and austere finances. Stunning visuals, thoughtful interviews, and insightful narration would engage any student that cares about the relationship between social well-being and the natural environment.”
– Keith Gilless, Dean, College of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley
“Highly recommended. California Forever charts the movement to create state parks in California, which was an uphill battle for years due to many competing interests—squatters, farmers, timber companies—who tried to exploit these public lands for private purposes.”
– Video Librarian
“Beautifully shot…Begins by exploring the contributions of John Muir and Frederick Law Olmsted, both of whom recognized the need for maintaining natural lands and fighting industrialists eager to chop down forests for wood."