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Dear Mr. Muir,

John Muir & John Burroughs

The work in the field is at an end for the present season, and I am now busy preparing my report. Two alternatives present themselves for the treatment of the reserved public timber lands. One is to reserve all such lands at one blow by refusing to allow any forest lands of the United States to be disposed of hereafter. This course would probably require Congressional action, and it is by no means certain that such action could be obtained. The other course is to secure the reservation of considerable bodies not now reserved, so as to include, as far as possible, all mountain ranges and any other considerable bodies of government timber land which may exist . The President has the necessary authority, and Congress would not require to be directly consulted… Letter from Gifford Pinchot to John Muir, Dec. 15, 1897 on establishing the National Forests

Now this is just cool! The University of the Pacific has made available on the internet 6,500 pieces of correspondence to and from John Muir. The letters become part of the Holt-Atherton Special Collections which includes Muir’s Journals and drawings as well as an extensive collection of photographs. The collection gives images of the original correspondence along with full-text transcriptions.

John Muir, of course, was the heart and soul of the early conservation movement. Around the turn of the century he advised and tutored scholars, educators and politicians such as Louis Agassiz, John Torrey, Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot and on the inherent value of wild places. As co-founder of the Sierra Club, Muir fought tirelessly for preservation of wilderness.

The new collection provides valuable insight into the personal side of John Muir as well as perspectives on his influence on the creation of our national parks, national forests and wilderness system. This is one web place I would certainly be sure to visit, but make sure you have at least a couple of hours to devote before you start to peruse the site.

“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.” John Muir

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