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Pioneers of Environmental Protection

John Muir

John MuirBorn April 21, 1838 in Dunbar, Scotland

Died: 1914 in a Los Angeles Hospital

Accomplishments

bullet Attended the University of Wisconsin, 1860 - 1863
bullet Authored many books and influential writings detailing conservation and preservation ideas
bullet Called the "Father of the National Park System"
bullet Helped found the Sierra Club in 1892 and was president until his death
bullet Father of two daughters

Environmental Legacy

Through his works and deeds, John Muir helped to create America’s National Parks, its National Monuments and its great forest reserves.

Muir began his conservation career after an accident, while working in a carriage parts shop, left him with a blinding eye injury. Upon recovering, he vowed to turn his eyes toward the fields and the woods. He traveled the United States, contracting malaria in 1867 while on his trek across the Florida swamps to the Gulf of Mexico.

Observations from his travels led him to write about conserving and preserving America’s natural beauty. Muir’s writings moved presidents, congressmen and plain Americans to action. His book American Forests led President Grover Cleveland to establish 13 Forest Reserves totaling more than 21 million acres. This eventually led to the creation of the U. S. Forest Service.

President Theodore Roosevelt was moved by Muir’s book, Our National Parks, published in 1901. Muir and Roosevelt met in 1903 and together they laid the foundation of Roosevelt’s conservation programs. During his term, Roosevelt established 148 million acres of National Forest, five National Parks, and 23 National Monuments. He established the nation’s first wildlife refuge on Pelican Island in Florida as a result of his meeting with Muir.

Muir had a direct hand in the preservation of land resulting in the creation of Yosemite (1890), Sequoia (1890), Mount Rainier (1897), Petrified Forest (1906), and Grand Canyon (1908) National Parks. In 1892, he helped to found the Sierra Club to "make the mountains glad." Today it is America’s oldest and largest environmental organization. He was president of the club from its start until his death in 1914.

Long after his death, Muir continues to be an inspiration to those striving to protect the natural environment.

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