1912-1920

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1912-1920 |
 

  1912

  Congress begins several years of debate and hearings on the question of

  whether or not to create a National Park Service.

  Congress passes legislation to amend the Withdrawal Act, opening withdrawn

  lands to mining of "metalliferous minerals" and adding California to the list

  of states where National Forests may not be created or enlarged without

  Congressional approval.

  John Muir publishes The Yosemite, an eloquent and loving portrait which

  concludes with an impassioned plea for the preservation of Hetch Hetchy.

  Concern for "human conservation" and early attempts by American cities to cope

  with the growing problem of urban air pollution are reflected in the material

  compiled by Samuel B. Flagg for a U.S. Bureau of Mines publication, City Smoke

  Ordinances and Smoke Abatement.

  Public interest in conservation issues is reflected in the publication of two

  valuable bibliographies: the Library of Congress's Select List of References

  on the Conservation of Natural Resources in the United States, and the

  Department of the Interior's List of National Park Publications.

  1913

  Debate over the fate of Hetch Hetchy continues in the national press

  throughout the year, along with intensive campaigning to save Hetch Hetchy on

  the part of conservation and nature-related organizations (such as the Sierra

  Club and the Appalachian Mountain Club) and concerned individuals throughout

  the country; the arguments made by the opposing sides in the campaign are

  exemplified by such works as John Muir's pamphlet "Let Everyone Help to Save

  the Famous Hetch Hetchy Valley and Stop the Commercial Destruction Which

  Threatens Our National Parks" (1911), Isaac Branson's pamphlet "Yosemite

  Against Corporation Greed; Shall Half of Yosemite National Park Be Destroyed

  by San Francisco?" (1909), and Martin Vilas's pamphlet "Water and Power for

  San Francisco from Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park" (1915). On

  September 3 and December 6, the House and Senate, respectively, pass the Raker

  Act, granting San Francisco permission to dam Hetch Hetchy, and President

  Woodrow Wilson signs the bill into law on December 19; though a defeat for

  preservation-minded conservationists, the controversy has brought the

  preservationist movement to a new level of maturity, and the conservation

  movement as a whole to a new level of importance and awareness in national

  life; the loss of Hetch Hetchy now galvanizes the campaign to create an

  independent Federal bureau to protect and care for the national parks.

  William Temple Hornaday, now head of the New York Zoological Park, publishes

  Our Vanishing Wild Life: Its Extermination and Preservation, "one of the first

  books wholly devoted to endangered wild animals" (in the words of historian

  Stephen Fox); the book is written to accompany Hornaday's founding of the

  Permanent Wildlife Protection Fund, an organization devoted to campaigning for

  wildlife protection throughout the nation.

  Congress passes what is known as the Migratory Bird Act or Weeks-McLean Act,

  declaring all migratory and insectivorous birds to be within the custody and

  protection of the Federal government; this is eventually superseded by the

  Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

  Congress passes a provision of the Federal Tariff Act prohibiting the

  importation of many kinds of wild bird feathers, which had been extensively

  used for women's hats; this measure is the result of a long public campaign by

  many conservationists, especially the nation's Audubon Societies, against the

  use of wild bird plumage in the millinery trade.

  The National Conservation Exposition is held in Knoxville, Tennessee, in

  September and October, with the support of local and national business and

  political leaders, including Gifford Pinchot and WJ McGee, both of whom serve

  as advisors; though regional in emphasis, this is the major public effort in

  conservation education in this era, an ambitious attempt to educate the public

  into an understanding of conservation issues, and especially "to teach farmers

  and timber-land owners the necessity for general co-operation if we are to

  preserve the forests, streams, and soils of the country," in the words of the

  Exposition's chronicler; the Exposition reveals how thoroughly conservationism

  was construed as an issue of civic and even religious virtue in this era, and

  the sometimes uneasy alliance of business, civic, governmental, and religious

  leadership which gave early conservationism its remarkable breadth of support.

  A descriptive commemorative album, The First Exposition of Conservation and

  its Builders: An Official History of the National Conservation Exposition...,

  edited by W.M. Goodman, is published in 1914.

  Joseph Knowles publishes his best-selling Alone in the Wilderness, an account

  of his probably fraudulent experience living "as Adam lived" off the Maine

  wilderness; its popularity reflects Americans' turn-of-the-century

  preoccupation with the relationship of wilderness to human nature and the

  American character; while Knowles's almost formulaic references to the

  importance of wilderness as a resource for human health, spirituality, and art

  reveal how completely many of the essential ingredients of the conservation

  ethos have permeated American popular culture.

  1914

  President Wilson issues a Proclamation establishing Papago Saguaro National

  Monument, Arizona.

  John Muir dies in California at the age of 76.

  1915

  Congress passes a bill establishing Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

  President Wilson issues a Proclamation establishing Dinosaur National

  Monument, Utah.

  Cornell horticulture professorLiberty Hyde Bailey, already well known for his

  efforts in the nature-study and country-life movements, publishes The Holy

  Earth, a pioneering attempt to establish an ethic for the man/nature

  relationship which directly influences Aldo Leopold's development of an

  ecologically-based "land ethic" in the 1930s and '40s.

  Overriding the longstanding opposition of Gifford Pinchot and many of his

  associates in the utilitarian wing of the conservation movement, the New York

  Board of Trade and Transportation (which was concerned about loss of water for

  the Erie Canal) and the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks

  (which was dominated by wealthy landowners in the Park region) succeed in

  having a permanent prohibition on timber cutting in the Adirondack Park

  incorporated into the new New York State constitution of this year.

  Under pressure from livestock owners' associations, Congress appropriates

  $125,000 to enable the Bureau of Biological Survey to begin large-scale

  killing of predator animals, such as wolves and coyotes, regarded as injurious

  to sheep and cattle.

  The Ecological Society of America is founded "for the purpose of giving unity

  to the study of organisms in relation to environment, as a means of furthering

  intercourse between persons who are approaching widely different groups of

  organisms from closely related points of view, for the stimulation of

  ecological research, and to assist the development of the utilities which may

  be served by ecological principles."

  1916

  Congress passes the National Park Service Act, creating the National Park

  Service within the Department of the Interior with the support of Interior

  Secretary Franklin K. Lane; Stephen T. Mather is its first Director.

  Congress passes a bill establishing Hawaii National Park, Hawaii, and a bill

  establishing Lassen Volcanic National Park, California.

  President Wilson issues a Proclamation establishing Sieur de Monts National

  Monument on Mount Desert Island, Maine, on lands conveyed to the United States

  by a private citizens' group, the Hancock County Trustees of Public

  Reservations; and a Proclamation establishing Capulin Mountain National

  Monument, New Mexico.

  Frederic E. Clements publishes Plant Succession: An Analysis of the

  Development of Vegetation, a seminal work of ecological science, establishing

  a dynamic model of species succession toward an eventual "climax" equilibrium

  under the influence of climate and other factors in a given habitat; this work

  has profound implications for the future development of conservationist

  thought.

  John Charles Van Dyke publishes The Mountain: Renewed Studies in Impressions

  and Appearances, one of his series of books exploring and celebrating the

  distinctive aesthetic properties of various wild landscapes in elegant and

  perceptive detail; Van Dyke's work illuminates Americans' increasingly

  sophisticated pleasure in scenic beauty in an era when the preservationist

  dimension of conservationism achieved permanent importance.

  1917

  Congress passes a bill establishing Mount McKinley National Park, Alaska.

  The last and widest-ranging of the series of four National Parks Conferences

  meets in Washington to explore the role of the parks in American life and the

  complex challenges facing the new National Park Service; the conference's

  Proceedings, rich in implication for the parks' cultural, economic, and

  scientific history, are published later in the year.

  1918

  Congress approves the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which implements a

  1916 Convention (between the U.S. and Britain, acting for Canada) for the

  Protection of Migratory Birds, and establishes responsibility for

  international migratory bird protection.

  President Wilson issues a Proclamation establishing Zion National Monument,

  Utah, incorporating Mukuntuweap National Monument, and a Proclamation

  establishing Katmai National Monument, Alaska.

  1919

  Congress passes a bill establishing Lafayette National Park, Maine,

  superseding Sieur de Monts National Monument, as the first National Park east

  of the Mississippi; it is renamed Acadia National Park in 1929.

  Congress passes a bill establishing Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona,

  superseding Grand Canyon National Monument, and a bill establishing Zion

  National Park, Utah, superseding Zion National Monument.

  President Wilson issues a Proclamation establishing Scotts Bluff National

  Monument, Nebraska.

  Stephen A. Forbes, a biologist whose work on the ecology of freshwater ponds

  has important implications for the future of conservationist thought, and

  Robert Earle Richardson publish Some Recent Changes in Illinois River Biology,

  a brief study which raises disturbing questions about the complex impact of

  reclamation engineering projects and sewage disposal on riverine biology; this

  work anticipates the kinds of environmental issues which will increasingly

  preoccupy conservationists later in the century.

  The National Parks Association (renamed the National Parks and Conservation

  Association in 1970) is founded in Washington, D.C. by a group of public

  officials, scientists, educational leaders, and other prominent citizens,

  under the leadership of retiring Park Service Education Division chief Robert

  Sterling Yard, and with the personal and financial support of Park Service

  Director Stephen T. Mather; the new organization's purpose is to educate the

  public about and through the national parks, to generate support for the

  parks' growth and protection, and to encourage their responsible enjoyment by

  greater numbers of visitors.

  1920

  Congress passes the Federal Water Power Act, creating a Federal Power

  Commission with extensive authority over waterways and the construction and

  use of water power projects.

  The Ecological Society of America begins publication of its quarterly journal,

  Ecology.