John Muir (1838-1914)

  • Conservation through preservation of wild lands was the philosophy championed by John Muir. His lifelong fascination with nature began in his youth in Dunbar, Scotland and grew on his family’s farm in Wisconsin. Muir never completed a college degree, but combined coursework from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with his strong religious upbringing, astute ability to observe and record nature, and extensive travels to further develop his views of the deeply spiritual connection between humans and the natural world.

    Unlike many of his contemporaries, Muir advocated for the protection of species and habitats solely for the sake of their long-term viability, regardless of traditional value to humans as commodities. Muir regularly corresponded with President Theodore Roosevelt and influenced efforts that expanded National Parks, Monuments, National Wildlife Refuges, and National Forests and facilitated passage of the 1906 Antiquities Act under Roosevelt. He co-founded the Sierra Club and was directly involved in the establishment of Yosemite, Seqouia, Mount Rainier, Petrified Forest, and Grand Canyon National Parks. Muir Woods National Monument, the John Muir National Historic Site, and the John Muir Wilderness are additional testaments to his lasting conservation legacy. Throughout his life, Muir penned numerous books and hundreds of articles and essays that would expose millions of readers to the wonders and significance of nature through his unique view, even long after his passing. Muir once said, “In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks,” and he remains one of the most influential forces in the creation of the American Conservation Movement.

    The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.