John Muir

Muir, even more than Thoreau, played a key role in popularizing love of wilderness
wide view of Sierra mountains around Yosemite

his ideas came from transcendentalism--nature is a mirror reflecting the Creator
John Muir sitting on a rock

what he said that was new was seeing wild nature as having the right to exist for its own sake, not just for the benefit of human beings:
half dome mountain with
Muir takes preservation ideas further--we should preserve wilderness for its own sake

The conservation movement split between wise use and preservation
In 1890 Muir published two articles in a leading magazine calling for the preservation of the Sierra mountains around the Yosemite Valley as a national park like Yellowstone, only Muir explicitly said the goal was to preserve wilderness.  A bill was quickly passed and signed.
Muir and Teddy
              Roosevelt on a mountain top
Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir in Yosemite in 1903

In 1892 Muir founded the Sierra Club

The wise use side:
Meanwhile at the same time the federal government also passed a law setting aside forest reserves, leading to the National Forests, which have a very different philosophy than the National Parks
Gifford Pinchot
Gifford Pinchot

Muir's view?
"Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away; and if they could, they would still be destroyed - chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides. Branching horns, or magnificent bole backbones. Few that fell trees plant them; nor would planting avail much towards getting back anything like the noble primeval forests. It took more than three thousand years to make some of the trees in these Western woods - trees that are still standing in perfect strength and beauty, waving and singing in the mighty forests of the Sierra. Through all the wonderful, eventful centuries God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods; but he cannot save them from fools - only Uncle Sam can do that. "
cartoon--logging in a national forest

This page written and copyright Pamela E. Mack
last updated 2/26/10
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