Have you ever heard of John Muir and Gifford Pinchot? These two men expressed different beliefs over preservation and conservation. John Muir was America’s most famous conservationist. While Gifford Pinchot was one of America’s leading preservationist. Both of these men spent most of their lifetime defending the natural resources and the wildlife around the world. John Muir is one of California’s most important historical personalities. Born in Scotland, he has been called “The Father of our National Parks,” “Wilderness Profit,” and “Citizen of the Universe. As a wilderness explorer, his exciting adventures in the Sierra Nevada and Alaska’s glaciers led him searching for nature’s beauty. Gifford Pinchot was born to a wealthy family on August 11, 1865, at his family’s summer home in Connecticut. His family was upper-class merchants, politicians, and land owners. His father asked him what he thought about being a forester because not a single American had made forestry a profession. Pinchot had no idea what a forester was other than being in the woods.
Since he liked everything about the woods he decided in favor of forestry. He studied at Yale and then furthered his education by attending a French forestry school where he learned the value of selective rather than unrestrained harvesting of forests. John Muir devoted his life to safeguarding the world’s landscapes. He was the founder of the Sierra Club and a major influence on conservation in the U. S. After an eye injury, he decided to turn his eyes to fields and woods.
He walked from Wisconsin to the Gulf of Mexico, then sailed the Caribbean and the West Coast of North America, landing in San Francisco. He began writing about the western wilderness which attracted the attention of famous men of the time. He published many articles and 10 books about his travels. This led to an act of Congress that created Yosemite National Park. He strongly believed in preserving the natural land and taught people the importance of experiencing and protecting our natural heritage. Muir and Gifford had two different approaches to wilderness and the environment.
Muir believed preservation was the priority but Pinchot was determined to stop exploitation through a wise use approach of all natural resources. Both men thought management was needed for preservation. They also thought America would fail to meet its future needs if natural resources and the environment were left uncontrolled. Muir and Pinchot were also obsessed with the fury of development. They knew development was necessary but wanted to keep and preserve the forests, mountains, fields, and lakes. Gifford Pinchot was chief of the Division of forestry in 1898.
Under President Roosevelt, the Forest Service added millions of acres to the national forest, controlled their use, and regulated their harvest. Roosevelt’s successor, President Taft, did not really care for government ownership of land. This is what divided Roosevelt and Taft and led to the creation of the Progressive Party. Pinchot ran for the United States Senate but did not win. He then changed from national to State politics. His goal was governorship. This is where he believed he would have the greatest opportunity to bring about the reforms he proposed.
As Governor, his plans focused on government reorganization and economy, enforcement of prohibition, and regulating public utilities. He was elected as governor a second time but never did win the nomination for election to the United States Senate. His last years were giving advice to the President and writing a book about his life as a forester. John Muir’s words and deeds helped inspire President Roosevelt’s innovative conservation programs like the first National Monuments by President Proclamation, and Yosemite National Park by congressional action.
John Muir and other supporters formed the Sierra Club “to make the mountains glad. ” He was the first president in the club, an office he held until he died in 1914. In order to make the mountains happy the John Muir Trust shows that the damage on the wilderness over the years can be repaired. He campaigned for the creation of Yosemite National Park, which Congress approved in 1890. John Muir got the title “The Father of the National Parks System” from President Theodore Roosevelt because he was a good and influential writer.
Gifford Pinchot and John Muir encouraged preservation and conservation of our forests and natural resources. These men have started the process of repairing and keeping the forest safe. They believed in order for the United States to meet its future needs something had to be done. Many articles and books have been written to inform the people of the need to preserve. Without the achievements of this two men America and the World would not have the resources it has today. Their life reminds us of the important things that just one person can do.
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In a life defined by restless searching, William McPherson was a three-time college dropout, a Merchant Marine seaman (“one of my attempts to try on a new identity and escape the world around me”) and a Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic for The Washington Post.
He was editor of The Post’s Book World section in the 1970s and wrote two novels in the 1980s, one of which the Atlantic Monthly declared “a flawless literary achievement.” He was 53 and at the pinnacle of his craft when he left The Post in 1987 to seek adventure in Eastern Europe ahead of the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellite countries.
He freelanced, but bad investment decisions and health reversals shriveled his savings. To considerable attention, he wrote a self-lacerating essay in 2014 about his slide into what he called the “upper edge of poverty” — not quite destitution but where “a roof over your head and a wardrobe that doesn’t look as if it came from the Salvation Army is as good as it gets.”
He described the confluence of events — largely of his own making — that acted as a current tugging him away from the middle class and beaching him on “Grub Street.”
Mr. McPherson, 84, died March 28 at a hospice center in Washington. The cause was complications from congestive heart failure and pneumonia, said his daughter, Jane McPherson.
Mr. McPherson had come to The Post in 1958 as a copy boy and was travel editor within five years. After an interlude in New York as a senior editor at the publishing firm William Morrow & Co., he was lured back to The Post in 1969 by executive editor Benjamin C. Bradlee to run Book World.
He poured out reviews, applying what the 1977 Pulitzer jury commended as “broad literary and historic perspective” to authors as varied as poet Archibald MacLeish, essayist and children’s book author E.B. White and novelist Saul Bellow.
In a biographical sketch for the Pulitzer, Mr. McPherson wrote in the third-person dry: “Grateful to be able to pick the books he likes. Does not enjoy reviewing books he does not like.”
Soon after his win, he moved to the editorial page staff as a letters editor and occasional columnist. “I didn’t want to edit Book World anymore,” he later told the Chicago Tribune, “because I knew how hard it was to write a book, and I didn’t want to criticize other books.”
Meanwhile, he was busy writing his first novel, the lavishly praised “Testing the Current” (1984). Set on the cusp of World War II, it chronicled the lost innocence of a remarkably observant 8-year-old boy in Michigan who struggles to understand a world that is at once destabilized and destabilizing, with his mother’s affair and the death of a schoolmate.
Writing in the New York Times, author and poet Russell Banks called “Testing the Current” an “extraordinarily intelligent, powerful and . . . permanent contribution to the literature of family, childhood and memory.” He placed the book, fictional with some clearly autobiographical elements of Mr. McPherson’s Midwestern youth, on equal footing with such first-rate memoirs as Frank Conroy’s “Stop-Time” and Russell Baker’s “Growing Up.”
Mr. McPherson’s second book, “To the Sargasso Sea” (1987), picks up with the same character at 40, a successful playwright suffering a domestic and professional crisis.
With two well-received books to his name, Mr. McPherson took early retirement from The Post, went to Europe to see the Berlin Wall come down and spent six years freelance writing about post-Ceausescu Romania.
He badly miscalculated how far his savings would take him. “I’d acted like one of those people who win the lottery and squander it on houses, cars, family, and Caribbean cruises,” he wrote in his 2014 essay, “Falling,” published in the Hedgehog Review academic journal. “But I hadn’t won the lottery; I’d fallen under the spell of magical thinking.”
His newspaper pension was paltry, he said, and medical costs soared. He suffered a major heart attack that brought on congestive heart failure, enervating him and curtailing his income from writing.
In “Falling,” he described the humiliation of asking friends and family for handouts, which managed to keep him off welfare, Medicaid and food stamps. He lived in Washington, where he received a housing subsidy from the federal government. The city helped cover medical insurance payments. He was able to afford a cellphone and a computer — instruments that for a writer, he said, were needs more than wants.
The essay was admired as an unvarnished reflection on a precarious freelance existence. Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin offered that it was also broadly, even frighteningly, relevant to circles beyond the world of journalism.
“The issue here is hardly exclusive to writers,” Ulin noted, “although it’s hard to read this essay as a writer without a blade of apprehension slicing through your heart. Why? McPherson was working, is still working; ‘Falling’ is beautiful, deft.”
William Alexander McPherson was born on March 16, 1933, in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., where his father was manager at a Union Carbide chemical plant.
He told the Washington Independent Review of Books that in childhood he “read omnivorously and indiscriminately. . . . It was my father who kept the Index of Prohibited Books. He saw me pull ‘Anthony Adverse’ off the shelf . . . and told me to put it back. I was too young to read it. That was all I needed. I devoured the book.”
He attended the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and George Washington University but, he later told the Times, “I never did snag a degree.”
His marriage, to Elizabeth Mosher, ended in divorce. Besides his daughter, of Athens, Ga., survivors include two grandchildren.
“Testing the Current” was reissued in 2013 by New York Review Books Classics. The next year, Mr. McPherson wrote “Falling.”
“I am glad that none of my friends has ever found himself sitting on a bench in a park with a quarter in his pocket, as I once did, and nothing in the bank,” he noted in the essay. “It gives new meaning to the sense of loneliness and despair.
“I wallowed in that slough for a bit. It was not, after all, a happy situation and I am not a dimwitted optimist. But I had two choices, die in the slough or move on. I thought of the last two lines of Milton’s ‘Lycidas,’
At last he rose, and twitch’d his mantle blue:
To-morrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.
“So I got up, forever grateful to Mr. Barrows, my college English instructor, for teaching me to study ‘Lycidas’ seriously and realize what a great poem it is and why that matters.”