"Tower Creek, Yellowstone"
|John Muir in 1872|
The "Indian Wars" came to and end with the sad battle at Wounded Knee in 1890, and John Muir creates the Sierra Club in 1892 to enlist public and governmental support for the idea of preserving natural areas. Frederick Jackson Turner read a paper at the the American Historical Meeting in Chicago declaring that "the frontier is dead" in 1893. At the close of the century, Gifford Pinchot is appointed as Chief of the Division of Forestry for the country, which later became the National Forest Service, as the government began conservation of natural resources.
President Theodore Roosevelt set aside the first National Wildlife Refuge at Pelican Island in Florida. The use of the Executive Order by sitting Presidents has been invaluable in protecting public lands.
|Grand Canyon from Powell Point|
"The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world... Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see."
In 1906, the passage of the Antiquities Act allows Presidents to establish National Monuments and Devil's Tower becomes the nation's first followed by Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908.
In 1913, a major conservation fight is lost when a dam is allowed at Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite. This loss boosts the determination of the environmental movement to increase their efforts for protection. Between 1920 and 1929, Arthur Carhart, Aldo Leopold, Robert Sterling Yard and others advance the idea of national wilderness preservation through their writings and appearances around the country.
Stay tuned -- more on the history of Wilderness next week.