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Telluride Colorado

Mountainfilm Symposium on National Parks

America’s National Parks have had a lot of publicity lately, and not all of it good. 

A tragic incident in Yellowstone earlier this month occurred when well-meaning tourists “rescued” a bison calf, which eventually led to the need for rangers to euthanize it. This incident and others like it—people vandalizing pubic lands and carving names into rocks, illegally entering closed portions of a park—highlight the problems that exist at the intersection of wilderness and human visitors. And with the country celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016, the timing is perfect for Telluride Mountainfilm to take a closer look at National Parks as the subject of its Moving Mountains Symposium.

Friday’s symposium takes place from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at High Camp (Telluride Conference Center) and is open to all Wilson, Ama Dablam, and Patron pass holders. The event will feature a roster of influential writers, rangers and conservationists talking about the past, future, and present challenges facing America’s preserved places. Speakers include historian, professor and author Douglas Brinkley, climber and Yosemite chief of staff Michael Gauthier and the country’s oldest serving park ranger, 94-year-old Betty Reid Soskin.

Also speaking will be World Press Photo Award-winning photojournalist David Guttenfelder and science and wildlife journalist David Quammen, who both delved into documenting America’s oldest National Park, Yellowstone, for the May issue of National Geographic Magazine .

River runner and author Kevin Fedarko and filmmaker Pete McBride will also share tales from their audacious project to walk a 650-mile transect through the heart of the Grand Canyon, from the rafting put-in at Lee’s Ferry to the terminus Grand Wash Cliffs. The pair will discuss how the challenges facing the canyon are emblematic of the country’s entire National Park system. “Kevin is an amazing storyteller,” said Mountainfilm Program Director Katie Klingsporn. “The point of it is to highlight how many threats encircle what is one of our most iconic National Parks: mining, developments in each direction.”

The symposium discussion will be emceed by author, Pacific Crest Trail thru-hiker and festival alumna Cheryl Strayed.

Although there are several films that will prominently feature National Parks as a backdrop— Bisonhead , Elk River , Martin’s Boat , to name a few—the weekend event that best showcases and explores what has been called “America’s best idea” is Friday’s symposium. The event officially opens the festival and sets the stage for four days of film, education, conservation, inspiration, and celebration.