John Muir: Environmental Activist

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John Muir (1838-1914) was an Environmental Activist, Journalist, and founder of the Sierra Club (1892). Muir also helped establish Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. He advised the federal government to adopt a forest conservation policy through articles he published in newspapers.

John Muir was born April 21, 1838, in Dunbar, Scotland. When he was 11 years old he and his family immigrated to the United States to settle in Wisconsin. John attended the University of Wisconsin in the beginning of the 1860s. He left it in 1863 and took up studying botany and exploring the natural world on foot while taking up jobs to support himself. But an accident that happened while he was working in a factory caused him to be temporarily blind.
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He worked in Yosemite as a shepherd then ran a sawmill near the base of Yosemite Falls. Even though he was working he still managed to find time to continue studying nature and its beauties.

Robert Underwood Johnson editor of Century magazine helped re-awaken Muir’s literary and political activity. What stimulated this was a camping trip to Tuolumne Meadows in 1889. After the trip Muir wrote two long articles on Yosemite, advocating a National Park to surround what was then a state-run valley. Johnson published his articles and lobbied vigorously. Congress finally gave in and created National Park that included almost all the present day parks.

1892 Muir and others started the Sierra Club and became its President. The purpose of this club was to preserve and make accessible the Sierra Nevada, which inspired its name. He held the position of president until his death in 1914.

John Muir has greatly contributed to the conservation and preservation of America’s wilderness. His belief that America’s great wilderness should be federally protected as national parks has given generations of people an opportunity to appreciate its beautiful landscapes as they exist naturally. His writings still continue to inspire many naturalists and conservationists in America and the whole world. He will always be known as the Father of Our National

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