The National Parks


Mr. President Goes to Yellowstone

In celebration of Yellowstone's anniversary in 2010, The White House released a short film about the First Family's trip to the park and archival footage of previous Presidential visits.

AIRED: March 09, 2010 | 0:11:48

- The state of our National Parks in 2009

is uh, we have a lot of work to do,

but we have a great vision for the future.

President Obama understands and recognizes

the importance of our National Parks.

We know that our National Parks

bring in over 300 million visitors a year.

They are American's best idea,

and, uh, National Parks create the opportunity

of unifying the American spirit.

And so we have been very pleased that

President Obama and his family decided that

as part of their summer they would

actually visit National Parks

and put a spotlight on the National Parks,

because it is a unifying American idea,

fundamentally democratic and very much a part of our future.

(jet engine roaring)

(acoustic guitar music)

- Mr. President.

- What's up bro?

Hey, how are you?

How are you?

- Hi, Mr. President.

- Mr. President.

- I have great memories of here.

I was 11.

My grandma, my mom, and my sister who was with us,

she was two at the time.

And we traveled throughout the country,

the entire, uh, the entire summer.

This was our last stop and my favorite stop.

- The National Parks, to me, I think,

are studies in leadership.

How presidents have, uh, related to the National Parks

have been, in some ways, defining aspects

of their larger leadership quality.

(acoustic guitar)

- Well, I think it's always special

when a president visits anywhere.

Chester A. Arthur was the first

to visit Yellowstone in 1883.

President Theodore Roosevelt, Roosevelt came in 1903.

Then in 1923, Warren Harding.

In 1927, silent Calvin Coolidge visited us.

Then in 1937, FDR, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt came.

(bright string music)

- [Narrator] President Franklin D. Roosevelt,

swinging through the west on a campaign tour,

took time off for a visit to Yellowstone National Park.

An exponent of conservation, Mr. Roosevelt

backed many measures aimed at enlarging

our national forests and preserving wildlife.

This was a moment of relaxation amid the scenes he loves.

- This is a moment that I have been

looking forward to for a long, long time.

To return to Yellowstone,

where I spent one of the greatest summers of my life.

- Gerald Ford was an interesting example of a president,

because he had been a park ranger in Yellowstone.

Then after Ford, uh, Jimmy Carter came to Yellowstone

and was, again, fishing was his primary focus.

After Carter, George Herbert Walker Bush,

who came to Yellowstone in 1989.

Bill Clinton was here twice.

Yellowstone is the symbol of our National Parks

because it's the oldest one and the first one

in the history of the world.

- And then after, after, um, Bill Clinton,

of course, we had President Barack Obama.

(water gurgling) - [Katie] Rotten eggs.


And Malia-- - So why, why don't, uh,

why don't we have Katie explain to everybody

why it smells like eggs and why it looks so hot.

- Why it looks so hot.

It looks so hot because it is,

and because we're on a volcano.

We're standing on top of a volcano

that still has molten rock a couple of miles down,

much closer than any place else in North America.

- I think what's really important

with the presidential visit is the focus of attention

on resource protection.

And I think that's really what Yellowstone's all about

is protecting these resources because these things here

are pretty darn special.

They're like no place else on Earth,

and you know, you would think a place like Yellowstone,

historically, would, because it has the deep history,

would be invulnerable or invincible

to, to dangers, and that's just not the case.

- Under this president's leadership,

we're able to move forward to invest in our Parks

in a way that hadn't been done for a very long time.

We have a billion dollars from the recovery funds

that are actually going to build roads

and facilities at Yellowstone and Yosemite

and a whole host of other places

where we are gonna make some major improvements,

in large part because of the President's leadership

and this effort.

So we have huge projects and huge plans,

but we interface with so many people here in America

and are so a part of the economic engine of this country.

- Recovery Act has been a real boom for us.

It's been welcome dollars.

The great thing about the way the National Park Service

and Yellowstone approach the Recovery Act,

the funding with that was just,

we lined up a variety of projects

that we already had in the queue

of things that we wanted to do.

And as we, as that list of projects

across the National Park Service matured,

we wanted to make sure that we were putting

a certain amount of that money into

energy conservation projects, alternative energy projects,

because we would reap the benefits of that.

- And what we hope is that

the focus of the President on this,

some of the new initiatives coming out of the

Interior Department and Secretary cells are,

permit us to reinvigorate our own passionate

interest in the National Parks,

to remind us that we are all co-owners

of the most spectacular scenery on Earth,

and our obligation as co-owners

is to just go visit this property now and then,

make sure it's being taken care of,

and put it in our will for our posterity.

- In Yellowstone, we have two seasons:

winter and construction.

(mellow banjo music)

- The CCC camps, I wish I could

see them all over the country.

I hope that all over the country,

they're in as fine condition

as the camps that I've seen today.

I wish that I could take a couple of months

off from the White House and come down here

and live with them because I know I'd get

full of health the way they have.

The only difference is that they've put on

an average of about 12 pounds a piece

since they got here, and I'm trying to

take off 12 pounds.

(crowd laughs)

- [Announcer] Men from the big city

are finding work and happiness in this

government conservation camp at Yellowstone.

(pickaxes falling)

Far cry from the roar of the sub--

that of Old Faithful, the most famous geyser in the world.

- [Female Ranger] Take your photos now.

Photos now, it's at its tallest.

- The YCC program spawned from the CCC from the 1930s.

(acoustic guitar)

We then transformed that into the Youth Conservation Corps.

We teach these students to practice

environmental stewardship as they

become our leaders in the future.

- Everyone working together as a community

really gives me hope.

When you find out that kids

can actually work together and create something great,

it makes you feel really good.

- Helping students discover who they are

and who they want to be in the future

is one of the most important pieces.

(honking and cheering)

- [Obama] At the age of 11, uh, it was decided that

me, my two-year-old sister at the time,

my grandmother, and my mother would take

a trip throughout the continental United States.

And when I think about that trip,

the sight of the Grand Canyon,

the sight of bison running through a stretch of plain

at Yellowstone, it, it gave you a sense that

this was something special, this country that we have.

And it's seared into my memory

in a way that very few things have been.

- He was telling his girls and he was telling the First Lady

about when he first saw this place,

and he was telling us the stories of, uh,

the bison and approaching the bison out at the park

and other stories that he told us,

he was thinking about a time in his life,

now over 30 years ago, that he was at that same place.

So it was, uh, it was a grand moment for me to be there

with the President at Yellowstone.

- You know, the thing I remember most

was, you know, driving by and seeing,

it was elk.

And uh, I remember bison.

In fact, I ran up close to a bison.

(all laughing)

- It's never a good idea to approach bison closely.

(truck beeping)

- We now live in a virtual world, particularly our children,

and we spend way too much time focused on

what is not reality.

And the parks offer the antidote.

- I am amazed at the number of children in this country

who have never seen such a thing as a panoramic vista,

a place where you can ascend a high point

and look around for 360 degrees

and see no evidence of buildings or fences

or farms or telephone lines.

Just sheer nature, and it's amazing

the number of folks who have not experienced that.

And I think places like this serve

to rejuvenate and refresh and inspire us

in those sorts of ways as we become

more and more of a developed place.

- [Obama] The notion that, collectively,

we come together and we say,

"We're gonna preserve some things

"that last beyond our individual lives,"

that we're gonna pass that on.

And we have to do it together.

You know, that's part of what

is, hopefully, best about our government,

and so every once in a while, we need

the ability to step back from our personal wants

and project something finer and better

for future generations.

That's what the Park District's all about.

(acoustic guitar)

Alright, let's go eat!

(acoustic guitar)