EcoTheater - Giants in the Wilderness by G.Thomson Fraser

EcoTheater for the Global Village

Giants in the Wilderness with John Muir


Genevieve aka G. Thomson Fraser
By G. Thomson Fraser


Preface

My first introduction to EcoTheater – theater that addresses environmental concerns – was as a theater major assigned to read Henrick Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, written in 1882. The protagonist, Dr. Stockman, is a popular resident of a small coastal town in Norway, until he makes an important discovery. The medicinal baths, invested in by the town to bring in tourism and prosperity, are contaminated. Waste water from the local tannery is polluting the very waters they are promoting. Of course, the good doctor must do something about it. It is his moral obligation. He fantasizes himself as a hero who will be lauded for his brilliant detective work, and the end result will be that something will be done! Instead, the town turns against him. 

Gov. Dukakis signs Acid Rain Awareness Declaration
Lt. Gov. (now US Senator) John Kerry and Genevieve Fraser (rt.)
 Little did I realize as I read the drama that not too many years later I would be confronted with similar dilemmas. First, there was the issue of acid rain destroying aquatic life locally, nationally, and internationally. Having been raised in the country on a small farm, I was motivated to organize Acid Rain Awareness Weeks which were backed by Governor Michael S. Dukakis who became the Democratic presidential nominee in 1988. These events contributed to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passing some of the strictest legislation in the country to combat acid rain. Then, there was the issue of the experimental landfill in town designed to deal with leachate and other pollutants. It had succeeded somewhat, but on the whole, had failed. Then, the powers-that-be invited in a company proposing a trash-to-energy plant. But the coup-de-grace was a proposal by a multi-national corporation to build a coal fired power plant directly across the street from where we lived. Talk about karma!

In each case, I was able to do something - though it took years to work through each issue. I was appointed to the Conservation Commission by the board of selectmen. The ConCom investigated proposals great and small and could create “stipulations.” Later, I created the town’s Landfill Study Committee which filed a report detailing environmental violations as well as the landfill company’s refusal to pay the town a just stipend. (It helps to have leverage.) But being elected to the Board of Health was the most effective. There you have the power to say, “No!!”

Each challenge presented its own battle and demanded different strategies. Most of the challenges got ugly, but I was not in Dr. Stockman’s position. I was not alone. Gradually, there had been an evolution in public awareness. Compatriots were found willing to fight the good fight. And by a remarkable twist of fate, the acid rain legislation I had promoted years earlier turned out to be key to defeating one of the largest corporations in the world. In the process, the public came to recognize the benefit of environmental safeguards. And then I moved out of town.

Years later, I handled public relations at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, MA and founded The Drama Circle, dedicated to the development of original works for the stage and screen. I also served as the liaison for the college’s Forest and Wood Products Institute. It was through this association that I met Dr. Charles (Hank) Foster, adjunct research fellow and lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, a former Massachusetts state forester, secretary of environmental affairs, and dean of the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

In October 1997, Dr. Foster invited me to attend a meeting of a group of humanists, authors, theater professionals, forest experts, and representatives of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management who were tasked with promoting the development of a Forest Chautauqua, in conjunction with the Centennial celebration of the Massachusetts State Forest and Parks System. Historically, the Chautauqua has been used as a form of adult education organized around a theme. It was decided that a dramatic presentation featuring Charles Sprague Sargent, Gifford Pinchot, and the well-known conservationist John Muir would be the perfect vehicle for presenting three viewpoints on land use management from the late nineteenth century that are still prevalent today – from the scientific, forest management, and the environmental purist perspectives.

Advisors for the project included Sargent and Muir biographer Stephen Fox; Pinchot biographer Char Miller; Vincent Dowling, professional actor/director, founder of the miniature Theater of Chester, and former artistic director of Ireland's Abbey Theater; Gary Hines, who portrays Pinchot at the Grey Towers National Historic Site in Pennsylvania; and William King, a director of the New England Forestry Foundation.

The intent of a Chautauqua is to provoke discussion. The resulting play - the history drama, “Giants in the Wilderness,” succeeded in doing just that. At the staged reading, prior to going on tour, I had to remind one member of the audience who had a heated discussion with the actor playing the founder of the USDA Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot, that though his ideas were significant, the character he was addressing was an actor involved in “make believe!” I then opened the discussion to the audience who had their own opinions.

“Giants” is dedicated to my granddaughter, MacKenzie. I was in the hospital waiting for my daughter, Rebekah, to give birth as I worked on the play. MacKenzie was born in California, not far from where streets and boulevards are named in John Muir’s honor.

With films such as the critically acclaimed “Silkwood,” “Erin Brockovich,” “I Heart Huckabees,” and Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” the crusade to save the planet has garnered worldwide attention. But a practical application of real world solutions to environmental dilemmas remains elusive. Henrick Ibsen was definitely on to something. Whether it’s referred to as Theater in the Wild, EcoTheater, EcoDrama, Green Theater or by any other name, and whether the theme is local, national or global, its time the public - from toddlers to the most senior among us - take note. From the cave, to the amphitheater, to the Proscenium theatre, and theater in the round, the human animal has always enjoyed a good story, but the most compelling stories are always about us.

Today, we humans have taken center stage in a worldwide drama to preserve the planet that only the gods of antiquity might find amusing. Theater is used to entertain and to inform, to draw us through dynamic conflicts and profound transformations. Theater has always held a mirror up to an audience and reflected back society and the individual as he/she struggles with self-inflicted or gratuitous obstacles. Theater is now challenged to take up environmental global concerns, to serve as a tool for our continued survival.

Genevieve

G. Thomson Fraser
Orange, Massachusetts
July 9, 2008


John Muir
                     
 GIANTS IN THE WILDERNESS

  A One-Act Play Forestry Chautauqua

  By G. Thomson Fraser


Giants in the Wilderness - Copyright© 1998, revised 2008. All rights reserved by Genevieve Cora Fraser (a.k.a. G. Thomson Fraser).

Prologue and Epilogue - Copyright © 1998, revised 2007. All rights reserved by Joseph K. Smith.


“Giants in the Wilderness" is dedicated to my grandchild, MacKenzie Louise Coffman, who was born in California during the birth of the play.

Acknowledgements

“Giants in the Wilderness” is a fiction based on the lives, letters and writings of John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and Charles Sprague Sargent. It was first produced by the Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC) Drama Circle in May 1998 and subsequently toured as part of the Centennial Celebration of the Massachusetts State Forest and Park System.

The original cast of characters included David Henshaw as Charles Sprague Sargent; David Lolli as Gifford Pinchot; Robert Blake as John Muir; and Joseph Smith as the Chautauqua Narrator. The part of John Muir was later performed by Alan Womer during the Massachusetts state tour, with Chet Lubelczyk as the Narrator. Genevieve Fraser directed the production.

I wish to thank Dr. Henry Foster, William King, Char Miller, Alice Ingerson, Stephen Fox, Gary Hines, Ellen Smith FitzPatrick, and Vincent Dowling for their input in the creation of the drama. MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino provided rehearsal space and the use of the Fine Arts Center auditorium for the staged reading. Ms. FitzPatrick served as the Centennial Celebration coordinator.

The Chautauqua Prologue and Epilogue was written for Giants in the Wilderness by Joseph K. Smith whose artwork graces the jacket cover of this book and sections of the children's theater pieces.

"Giants in the Wilderness' was funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and matching funds from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management's Conservation Trust Fund. Since then, the Department of Environmental Management has merged with the Metropolitan District Commission to form the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Genevieve
May 13, 2008


Giants in the Wilderness

NARRATOR

Welcome. My name is ________, and I am your host for this special Forestry Chautauqua presentation of “Giants in the Wilderness” by G. Thomson Fraser.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a Chautauqua is a combined educational and dramatic event built around a topic of current importance. Our Chautauqua is concerned with forests, and in particular with the beginning of our nation's efforts to protect and preserve these valuable resources. We will reflect on the current state of out forests and revisit the questions posed over 100 years ago.

In 1896, the forests in the public domain were threatened with exploitation by timber, mining and ranching interests. The U. S. Department of the Interior requested from the National Academy of Sciences a report on the conditions of the national forest lands. To this end a National Forest Commission was formed, and it was charged with deciding which portion of the public domain should be set aside as forest reserves, and how these lands should be administered and managed.

Our Chautauqua will recreate a field trip the Commission took to Pike's Peak, Colorado, in the fall of 1896 which was part of a three month tour to examine forest conditions in the West. In it you will be introduced to three individuals from history that played major roles in the conservation of forest lands at local, state and national levels.

They are: John Muir, Scottish-born wilderness advocate, founder of the Sierra Club and champion of national parks, and an invited participant in the work of the National Forestry Commission;

Charles Sprague Sargent, a Professor of Natural History at Harvard University and founder of the Arnold Arboretum, the first segment of Boston's Emerald Necklace Park System. Sargent was the author of a forestry book still is use today, A Silva of North America. In 1896, Sargent was the chairman of the National Forestry Commission;

and, Gifford Pinchot, America's first professionally trained forester, founder of the U.S. Forestry Service and the Yale School of Forestry, and the secretary of the National Forestry Commission. Pinchot was also an ally of President Theodore Roosevelt in the early conservation movement.

The debate between Muir, Sargent and Pinchot about national forestry policy over a century ago mirrors the current controversy about how forests should be managed and used. We are going to use these views to enlighten our own deliberations about the forests, here in America and throughout the world. Following the drama, the Chautauqua will continue and the characters may drop by and join in discussions as you continue the debate.

David Henshaw as Charles Sprague Sargent
GIANTS IN THE WILDERNESS

By G. Thomson Fraser


SCENE: A trail off the carriage road leading to Pike's Peak in Colorado.

TIME: Early October.

SETTING:The trail opens onto a clearing and bluff overlooking the Rocky Mountains. The clearing contains a few trees, a large rock at stage left, an old stump, and the remnants of a campfire.

AT RISE: Late morning

Act 1, Scene 1

Off stage: Sounds of horses neighing and whinnying overlap cries of "whoa-boy" and "tie 'em up" heard from a distance. JOHN MUIR and CHARLES SPRAGUE SARGENT exit the scene of the commotion onto a side trail; their voices are heard amid the SOUND of twigs and branches snapping. MUIR speaks with a Scottish accent.

SARGENT

(Breathless) Hold up, old friend. Hold up.

MUIR

Charles, this way.

SARGENT

Good God. Up over that boulder? Hold up. Let me catch my breath.

JOHN MUIR, a slender man with a long beard, enters on stage. He wears a dark suit and felt hat, and carries a knapsack, with books and specimens wrapped in a handkerchief.

MUIR

Why, Charles, it's led to a grand view!

CHARLES SPRAGUE SARGENT enters on stage puffing. Portly, spectacled and bearded, SARGENT is dressed in a gentleman's hiking outfit and carries a folding stool and cane. A binocular case and a case for specimens hang from straps draped round his neck and shoulders. Dirt and twigs cling to his clothes.

SARGENT

My dear fellow, in all our days on the trail and in the woods, have you ever seen a packhorse behave as wildly? And when the coach horses began to bolt...Why, we could have plunged down into the ravine. If you hadn't pulled me out of the stagecoach, I might have been killed!

MUIR

Since my unfortunate boyhood, where I worked like a horse on my father's farm, I've shunned the poor creatures whenever possible. I've found my own two feet serve me better than any pack animal's four.

SARGENT

And only a mountain goat could follow your wanderings.

MUIR

And each one I've befriended has preferred his own way and paths to mine. (sits, brushes himself off)

SARGENT

I wonder what's become of Pinchot and Hague? The last I saw, Hague was yanking the horses away from the nag.

SARGENT opens the stool by the old campfire site, sits and brushes himself off. MUIR sits on the rock.

MUIR

Aye. Hague tied them up and then scrambled a far and as fast as we did. And General Abbot has encountered worse.

SARGENT

General Abbot? I thought we lost him. He was no where in sight, nor was Professor Brewer.

MUIR

He and your agriculture professor were out of sight because we went round a bend.

SARGENT

Oh, that's right. Perhaps Hague knows what went wrong. He was leading the packhorse. Did you see what happened after he dismounted?

MUIR

Aye. One of the hooves narrowly missed his head.

SARGENT

Good God! One of the hooves all but hit his head?

MUIR

(Laughs) Don't trouble yourself. Hague's head is harder than any horse's hoof. It didn't come close to dinging it. Hague dropped his head down.

SARGENT

In the nick of time! In the nick of time!!

MUIR

Arnold Hague's geological explorations have taken him through more unholy and wild territory then this Forest Commission's journey through the western woods. He and the General have done hard riding out West. And Brewer was raised on a farm. They're old hands at this sort of trouble. As for Pinchot - Hague and Pinchot are a pair. You should have heard them together.

SARGENT

Hague and Pinchot? I hardly think so.

MUIR

Aye. They had their heads together...boasting about belonging to some eastern gentleman's Wild West society.

SARGENT

Eastern gentleman's Wild West society? Eastern gentleman's Wild West... (short laugh) Oh, you mean Teddy Roosevelt's Boone and Crockett Club?

MUIR

Aye. Where they brag about guns and game and hunting down God's poor wild creatures, and other manly matters.

SARGENT

Yes, though Roosevelt does seem sincere about stopping the wholesale slaughter of wildlife. (startled) Good God! (rises) My specimen packs. They were on that creature. I must go back...

SARGENT turns and quickly walks back toward the path.

MUIR

(Rises) No, my friend. Not till things are under control.

MUIR crosses to SARGENT

SARGENT

Muir let me pass. Those specimens are of inestimable value. To have come all this way to have them destroyed, trampled...

MUIR

Your Arnold Arboretum is full of specimens. You'll get yourself killed and for what?

SARGENT

Our food packs were on that horse and we're only halfway to the top. The stagecoach trail to Pike's Peak is not a joy ride to the top like the cog railroad. We'll need nourishment to continue. What if a storm develops? At this time of year, it could snow, which would spell disaster.

MUIR

When Master Pinchot went leaping out of the stagecoach, he went for the packs. I saw him drag them away before the hooves could do their worse. So calm yourself.

SARGENT

You don't suppose...? Pinchot may have been trampled! Maybe that's what's keeping him.

SARGENT turns back again as if to return.

MUIR

Charles, your practical forester, Master Pinchot, can handle matters, far better than we. Why, he's full of tales of fending off wild grizzly bears and other frightful creatures, and a mere horse...

Teddy Roosevelt - Boone and Crockett Club
SARGENT

Despite membership in the Boone and Crockett Club, he is not a product of the Wild West.

MUIR

I grant you, Gifford was raised in high society, but he's roughed it up since.

SARGENT

Roughed it up? Oh. That's bravado, merely bravado. He is not the cowboy he pretends to be.

MUIR

Oh? You should have seen him the night we took off to sleep among the Juniper boughs on the edge of the Grand Canyon – while you were tucked away fast asleep in the safety of your hotel room.

SARGENT

Spare me the details. I was not fast asleep I fretted half to death for his safety and for yours. Though I should have known better with you – the idea! Muir, I promised his parents, while he is in my care out West as a member of the National Forest Commission that...

MUIR

His parents? Oh, no, trust me Charles. Master Pinchot has stepped beyond the reach of his upbringing and is now tangled in the grand mystery of Mountain Thinking!

SARGENT

Mountain thinking? He fancies himself a mountaineer? A carbon copy of you? Ha!

MUIR

When I first met young Pinchot, I suggested he spend time alone, to become self reliant, and commune with God's great wonders. Well, he has done so. But instead of contenting himself to be at one with God's creatures, he now fancies himself to be a sort of forest predator. Revels in pitting himself, face-to-face, with every wild creature he encounters…. including that pestie nag.

SARGENT

A wild creature, indeed! What could have inspired the creature to behave so...so... badly? And moments before we were about to disembark for a picnic. The stagecoach driver was right. It would have been a fine spot. Fortunately for us, you spotted this trail...

Alan Womer as John Muir
MUIR

And it's led to a glorious sight. (breathes deeply) At moments like this I think of Shelley's masterpiece, The Triumph of Life. (recites) "The sun sprung forth rejoicing in his splendor, and the mask of darkness fell from the awakened earth..." (spreads his arms wide and bellows) How glorious are God's first temples! Blessed should every pilgrim be in these holy mountains!

SARGENT

(Amused, coughs politely) Yes. This is a good spot to catch our breath and rest.

SARGENT takes the binoculars out of the case. MUIR walks to edge of the bluff, shields his eyes.

MUIR

Your Massachusetts colleague, that Wellesley Professor, Katherine Lee Bates is right. Such magnificence deserves a hymn.(sings) "O beautiful for halcyon skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!" (pauses in his singing, commands)

Come see the purple mountains, man!

(Sings) "America! America! (stops singing, points)'Tis truly majestic! Charles, join me. Come; see the purple through the fog.

SARGENT views the scene with his binoculars.

SARGENT

Yes, yes. I can see it from here.

MUIR

Quit your brooding and fretting, and join me, man.

SARGENT rises and joins MUIR to admire the view. MUIR breathes deeply.

MUIR (cont'd)

Fill your lungs. Come. Breathe the air, sweet and pure.(breathes deeply)

Breathe, man, breathe!

MUIR slaps Sargent on the back. SARGENT recoils from the edge of the precipice.

SARGENT

I am breathing! But not for long if you hurl me off the cliff.

MUIR

Relax, Charles. Well. Well??

SARGENT

(Breathes deeply)You're right. It is the perfect tonic. (silence as he surveys the scene) Ah, such grand old Ponderosa...

MUIR

'Tis a fine species. Though my good Professor Sargent, in grandeur, variety, and beauty, no forest on God's earth can rival the great coniferous forests of my beloved Sierra.

SARGENT

But, Muir, open your eyes. Study the species.... (silence).

Well? Well?

MUIR

(Surveys the scene)Your right, Ponderosa is grand.

SARGENT

It's a splendid species. The thing will be to describe its many forms and show their inseparable characters. That will be the challenge of my next book. Let the species-makers name as many as they like. On the whole, Ponderosa is a kingly specimen.

MUIR

The Sequoia is king. Ponderosa is more like a wandering knight of King Arthur's time.

SARGENT

A wandering knight? (laughs) How so?

I don't follow you.

MUIR

Aye. Look, again, man. Spy how he's clad... thick, scaly, nonflammable bark. As for wandering, the Sequoia endures extreme climates. He's spread out in all directions.

SARGENT

I do rank it above the Sugar Pine, in spite of its majesty.

`MUIR

Aye. The Sugar Pine's a regal beauty. Where as Ponderosa's the noble, unconquered, armored knight - without fear and without reproach!

SARGENT pats MUIR on the back

SARGENT

Much like you, Muir, much like you! (silence) How I'll miss these conversations, my friend, when I'm back East.

MUIR

Back in Boston? Watching your football games and eating roast turkey? As you sink back into your happy life as a Harvard professor?

SARGENT

How I wish my existence were that simple. But with this Forest Report due, as the Chairman of the Commission....

MUIR

Charles, we've been wandering through the western woods for over three months. And with the sights we've seen – the damage and destruction of the forests. Don't worry, it'll be a fine report. You're more than up for the job.

SARGENT

If only I could get the others to agree. Muir, as the leader of the Commission I have an example to set. I behaved badly running off as I did, even if the horse did act a bit deranged.

MUIR

Auld friend, the others scrambled too.

SARGENT

So, I'm not the only coward in the face of madness?

MUIR

Madness? Madness, that's it!

SARGENT

You are joking. I saw no frothing, no foaming.

MUIR

Don't you see? Being broken and civilized into man's ways, drove the poor creature mad!

SARGENT

You are joking.

MUIR

But the more I think on it, it wasn't a seething, more of an angry raging, than rabid. Perhaps it's an omen – a presentiment of the wild ravings of Congress.

SARGENT

It may well be a premonition of what will happen once my Forest Commission Report is made public. Muir, by all that's right that report should move the hardest of hearts, but when there is a dollar to be made…

MUIR

Your right, money talks. They'll be a fight to be sure. Despite their coy invitation, with Congress finally ready to see the report, there's a reason.

SARGENT

A method to their madness, you mean? Muir, you may be our only hope. No man in the world can place the forests' claim before them so clearly and forcibly as your own dear self.

MUIR

Young Pinchot has strong opinions on forestry matters. And he's the Commission's Secretary. I'm merely a sightseer along for the ride.

SARGENT

Ah, yes. Gifford Pinchot, America's first native-born practical forester, as he styles himself, my erstwhile protégé. He has his head full of organizing a governmental forest service. Filled with political appointees, I suspect.

MUIR

Filled with political appointees, to be sure!!

SARGENT

A governmental forest service at the whim of every crooked timber industry spokesman, and every greedy speculator in league with Beelzebub!! An educated, scientific, timber harvester!! That is precisely what Gifford has become - a timber harvester! And to think at one time, I had high hopes for him.

MUIR

Your Yale Professor Brewer has certainly stamped his mark on him. Trees as agriculture! Ugh.

MUIR sits on the rock.

SARGENT

But after his return from Europe with his head full of studies in the forests of Germany and Austria....

MUIR

The cultured forests of Europe's aristocracy are no model for the fate of America's wilderness. Planting and harvesting is not a world of wildly born.

SARGENT

Tell that to our first American-born practical forester, with his elegant job at the Vanderbilt forest estate.

MUIR

Oh, yes. He's all a twitter about being a proper forester. Brags he can sprout a crop of commercial timber everlasting and protect the water and the home to wildlife – and the Vanderbilt estate is the proof, or so he claims.

SARGENT

Muir, sometimes I wonder if you and I are the only men alive who truly love trees, in their natural state, for their own sake.

MUIR

That I cannot tell, but I hope we've misjudged Master Pinchot. Surely, even he must fathom that, in the place of the old trees - tens of centuries old, during a man's life only saplings can be grown. It took more than three thousand years to make some of the trees in these Western woods - trees that are still standing in perfect strength and beauty, waving and singing in the mighty forests.

SARGENT

You speak truth, Muir. But sadly there are those among us on the Forest Commission, who cannot see the forest through the trees. For them, man's needs come first...even in this precious wilderness.

MUIR

Oh, Charles, through all the wonderful, eventful centuries since Christ's time - and long before that - God cared for these trees, saved them from fire, drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods. But even He cannot save them from fools- only Uncle Sam can do that.

SARGENT

Precisely. Only Uncle Sam can save the forest, but who has the ear of Uncle Sam?

MUIR

Your meaning the wealthy miners and saw-mill owners? The cattle dealers and sheep grazers?

SARGENT

That's understood, but who else?

MUIR

You're speaking of politicians?

SARGENT nods his head, stares off into the distance as if to see the future.

A particular politician?

SARGENT

Mark my words; though he claims to be devoted to the interests of the forest, Pinchot is that politician. He makes a point of talking with influential people, whenever he can.

MUIR

As Secretary of the Forest Commission, I'm sure he's...

SARGENT

As Secretary of the Forest Commission, he has overstepped the bounds of propriety! Gifford had the impudence to arrange a private conference with the President.

MUIR

The President? The President of the United States? President Cleveland met with Gifford? What for? To indulge him for the sake of his father?

SARGENT

Gifford broke the news to me knowing full well the inappropriateness of his actions. It was my prerogative to meet with the President, if I had a mind to, not his. He usurped me. I am the Chairman of the Forest Commission. He is merely the Secretary.

MUIR

Outside of his brazenness, no harm could've been done.

SARGENT

According to young Pinchot, the President is anxious to do everything in his power to help the plan of forest reform.

MUIR

There now. 'Tis good news. Is it not?

SARGENT

But my good friend, whose idea of reform are we speaking of? Young Pinchot's?

MUIR

Charles, is the President for you, or against you? Did the lad turn the President against you? Did he? Did he? (rising anger) Because, if that's the lay of the land, then...

SARGENT

No. I'm sure I have the President's support...despite our disagreements. But not on all fronts.

MUIR

Cleveland will soon be out o' office.

SARGENT

That's the damned politics of it! That's why, more than ever, I need you.

MUIR

I thought it best I not be on the Forest Commission.

SARGENT

Oh, I've gotten over your refusal, and I've come to agree. It was for the best. You're more valuable outside of the Commission...as a spectator and supporter.

MUIR

Alright, then.

SARGENT

If only it weren't so damned complicated.

MUIR

The path of uprightness is never easy.

SARGENT

Muir, no one knows as well as you the worth of our forests. Their use for lumber is but a small part of their value.

MUIR

Granted, I have pressed the need for a national park at Yosemite like a missionary preaching the gospel. The hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.

SARGENT

Oh, it's the politics, the damned politics. But with the backing of that Sierra Club you've created, the influence you can bring...

MUIR

My influence? Why Charles, you're forgetting your own influence and power. You're the man the preeminent Smithsonian Institution commissioned to write "A Silva of North America."

SARGENT

But it's a book for botanists, dendrologists, and abori-culturists - not the general public.

SARGENT crosses back to the stool.

And if the truth were to be told, you would have done as good a job, if not better, than I.

SARGENT sits, pokes at the remnants of the logs with his cane.


MUIR

Not so. It is bravely, sturdily, handsomely done. A fine work! And your "Garden and Forest" magazine has done a fine job telling the tale. Why, your editorials and articles have roused the nation so that finally the light has dawned.

SARGENT

My "Garden and Forest" magazine is financially bankrupt.

MUIR

But not bankrupt in spirit. Why, through it, the truth has become plain, America needs a national forest policy. Before, public thoughts were all on shrubbery... ornamental planting and such trivial stuff.

SARGENT

(Wounded) But I have a special fondness for shrubbery. Why, my magazine has devoted volumes and volumes on the subject of ornamentals. Perhaps it's not as grand as Mountain Thinking but shrubbery and ornamentals…

MUIR

(Placating) And I have a fondness for shrubs too. I only meant…

SARGENT

(Defensive) And as an active member of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, since... Why, Fredrick Law Olmstead himself helped design the Arnold Arboretum. Muir, few would disagree that majestically designed landscapes provide nourishment for the soul. Indeed, the very object of a park is to bring the country into the town... Why, shrubbery and ornamentals add a great deal to these settings.

MUIR

Professor, you've done a grand job with your Arboretum. But think on it. (crosses back to the rock) It was you who conceived o' takin an inventory of the forests and trees of the country in the Tenth Census. It was YOU! By wagon and train, hiking along wild Indian trails, you headed a small battalion of botanists... crisscrossed the country. It was you who investigated the trees and forests of this great nation! (with emphasis) Before 1880, the census only took note of the people!

SARGENT

I'm embarrassed to boast, but some experts have ranked my volume of the "American Forest Trees" as the last word on forest distribution in the nation

MUIR

Aye. It is bravely, sturdily, handsomely done. A fine work.

SARGENT

It was a grand opportunity to chronicle the tremendous wealth and value of our forests... that is, before the cutthroats and thieves completely pillage and plunder the land.

MUIR

A sad legacy.

SARGENT

But, together we've led the fight for National Parks, and know the army's need to protect them. "No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite," you said, and the public listened.

MUIR

Aye.

SARGENT

That rallying cry was heard all across the nation! The American people were roused. They listen to you. As a scientist, I reach minds, but you reach hearts. My friend, your crusading, above all, led to the creation of Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks.

MUIR

You had a mighty hand in it too.

SARGENT

It's hard to imagine, we're near the end of the century. If Congress doesn't act soon, by 1900, all that may remain of this grandeur might be a sad legacy. Muir, approach them again with a plea for wilderness. Before the "nay-sayers" garner their support.

MUIR

Aye. With the forest reserves, there's a danger. They're not the same as a park. Even this Timberland Reserve was once a Mecca for gold miners.

MUIR crosses to edge of bluff

"Pike's Peak or Bust." That rallying cry set the hordes scrambling and clawing at this mountain, blinded by greed for gold, aye, where for a thousand years, Ute and other Indians held sacred the hallowed ground.

SARGENT

Mark my words. Though these hills and valleys are mined out, where there's a forest cover, Westerners see gold. The sacred mission of the Forest Commission will be under attack, from all sides.

MUIR

But, there would not be a National Forest Commission, but for you.

SARGENT

And for that honor I will be made the object of personal attack.

MUIR

But why? My good Charles, you're more than up for the job, none would disagree. Why, the distinguished scientist, Wolcott Gibbs, himself, had the National Academy of Science appoint you as Chairman.

SARGENT

Bolster me as you will, my friend, I've been through this before. For nine years I battled for the Arnold Arboretum. I battled Harvard and the City of Boston. Dear God, save me from politicians. As for the Adirondack, the forest lands in upstate New York... My God, that's still a quagmire.

MUIR

But you won the day.

SARGENT

Yes, I did. And I'm hated for it! Muir, in the battle over these western forest reserves, don't think I don't know how Congress will cast me... hard hearted, privileged. They would broadcast far and wide I'm chucking out poor settlers looking for homesteads.... all to save my precious forest peserves.

MUIR

Let the sly tricksters, the slimy politicians take aim with their selfishness and pettifoggery. Don't you worry, Charles, I'll be laying wait for them. (pause)

Homesteaders, indeed...

SARGENT

You know all too well the treachery...

MUIR

Treachery? More like treason against the hopes of the true homesteaders.

SARGENT

It is treason.

MUIR

I remember all too well how one lumber company used the ploy of hiring the entire crew of every vessel that touched at any port in the redwood belt.

SARGENT

And, they were up to no good, I'm sure.

MUIR

Right you are. Each member of the crew was instructed to enter one hundred and sixty acres for himself and immediately deed the land to the company.

SARGENT

The chicanery!

MUIR

In consideration for their pains, the company paid all expenses and gave the jolly sailors fifty dollars apiece for their trouble.

SARGENT

And there's a thousand more tales to tell.

MUIR

Aye. Everyday it seems, I uncover a new ruse. Homesteaders, indeed! More like robbers of the public trust!

SARGENT

That is it exactly.

MUIR

Aye. Yet these same good citizens will raise up a hue and cry, through their representatives in Congress. Bellowing like moose about their rights...

SARGENT

And sadly that's not the half of it.

Even within the Forest Commission, it's not just Pinchot. It's an uphill battle with Hague and Brewer....

David Lolli as Gifford Pinchot
SARGENT and MUIR are startled by a jangling noise. PINCHOT appears along the trail wearing a buckskin jacket, vest and cowboy hat, and carrying firewood, saddle packs, a gunnysack with flour and other foodstuffs. Pans and other cooking gear are strung together on a leather string and slung over his shoulder, along with a large copper kettle.

SARGENT and MUIR are startled and concerned that PINCHOT, who is a quarter of a century younger than both men, might have overheard their gossip.

PINCHOT

At last, I've found you. Are you two all right?

MUIR

Yes. Merely startled. We're both safe and sound. (relaxes and laughs)

SARGENT

What a dreadful escapade. I'm thankful you've survived. And the others...

PINCHOT

Enjoying every minute of it.

PINCHOT drops the firewood and copper kettle by the campfire remnants, crosses to the rock and drops the gunnysack, saddlebag and cook ware.

SARGENT

Enjoying themselves...?

PINCHOT

Why, we haven't had such adventure since we were on the Sante Fe railroad over the Arizona Plateau. If you can compare 'shots ringing out in the night' to the crazed antics of an old nag.

PINCHOT kneels to checks the items.

MUIR

T'was only cowboys howling and shooting at the moon.

PINCHOT

But when the brakeman rushed in with his lantern shot out of his hand...

SARGENT

Gifford, I can assure you I was deeply grateful that you grabbed your rifle and took after the scoundrels. Though I admit, I was extremely concerned for your safety. My god, your parents would never have forgiven me if anything had happened.

PINCHOT

(Stands) Professor Sargent, my parents have long since accepted my life with its adventures and dangers. Ambition is nothing without risk, even for a forester.

SARGENT

Yes. Well, once more, I'm indebted to you for your heroism and delighted to see you've returned, apparently unharmed. Has the creature been subdued?

PINCHOT

Hague lassoed her, and General Abbot tied her to a tree. They've gone scouting ahead with Professor Brewer. So you see things are under control. The General surmised the horse had been bitten by something or other.

MUIR

Haven't we all. Haven't we all.

PINCHOT knells to unpack the gunnysack and cooking ware.

SARGENT

Muir, before all the commotion started, you were about to share some findings stored in your pack.

MUIR

'Tis nothing. Only a bit of mica and spiraea I picked up on a walk we shared at the hollow in the Black Hills.

MUIR removes his backpack and sits on a rock to search for a knotted handkerchief containing the items.

SARGENT

We were staying at the Sylvan Lake Hotel, if memory serves me, in Custer, South Dakota... in the heart of the infamous Black Hills... where the Indians and Whites quarreled and fought.

MUIR

The Whites wanted the gold. And the Indians wanted the game.

PINCHOT

Then the Indians and I must be birds of a feather. I too want the game. Back in June, my friend, Harry Graves and I started for the Northern Rockies with a few guides, weeks before the Commission. Now, I'll admit, we were tenderfeet, and tenderfeet have to be shown. But before long, we bagged our share, and then some.

SARGENT

I have never understood man's need to hunt, or to fish for that matter. Let the poor creatures alone is what I say.

PINCHOT

Then you'd never survive in the mountain wilderness. I suspect your opinion would change if you had to stare down a grizzly. (stands) Even you, John, must have killed your share of bears... in self-defense at least, if not for food.

MUIR locates the knotted handkerchief, stands.

MUIR

Berry time in the canyon, the bears are very numerous. But they give no trouble. Only in tangled underbrush I have to shout a good deal to avoid coming suddenly upon them.

PINCHOT

I'll admit it, Muir. Though I uphold the notion of mountain thinking, you're a braver man than I am. Professor, when John and I were on the lip of a prodigious chasm we came across a tarantula, and he wouldn't let me kill it.

SARGENT

Ugh. That does seem a bit risky.

MUIR

I merely informed young Pinchot that the tarantula had as much right to be there as we did. A brief encounter needn't result in a fight to the death. I was delighted to move on. That is, after I apologized to the tarantula.

PINCHOT

(Laughs and applauds) You see the sort of man your friend, John Muir, is.

PINCHOT crosses back to saddlebag and remaining gear.

SARGENT

Yes. Most amusing.

MUIR

Nature is wide enough to embrace all of us... tarantulas, grizzlies, man... (to Pinchot) ...or any other deadly creature.

MUIR hands handkerchief to SARGENT

Charles, here's the specimen pack.

SARGENT unknots the handkerchief.

SARGENT

What memories it brings back of this journey, better than any written journal... (picks up specimens) Ah, yes, a lily, Lilium Pennsylvanicum, two kinds of spiraea and a wild rose in full bloom, anemones, calochortus, larkspur...

MUIR

It was wonderful, even after seeing so many wild mountains. I wrote to my bairn, my daughter Helen about the curious rocks. Some rise alone, others in clusters. A world of rocks, gay and jagged and round, in a midst of pines and spruces and poplars and birches, with a wee lake in the middle and carpet of meadow gay with flowers... What a grand deer pasture! No wonder the Indians wanted to keep it, for wherever the White man goes the game vanishes.

SARGENT

Well said.

PINCHOT

Unless a White man strives to be like an Indian.

MUIR

Is that what your gentleman's Wild West Society's about?

SARGENT

The Boone and Crockett Club.

PINCHOT

The Boone and Crock... In a manner of speaking. Yes. Why do you ask?

MUIR

Merely curious.

PINCHOT

Well, for me, there's much to be learned from our red skinned brothers. (pause) Oh, Professor, after we've rested a bit. I wonder if we might compare notes on our findings and begin to draft some recommendations...

SARGENT

They'll be time enough for that, on our return.

PINCHOT

But here we are... into October. We've been wandering through the western woods since July. Didn't the Secretary of the Interior ask for an early report?

SARGENT

He'll have to wait.

PINCHOT

Professor, President Cleveland may be an uncompromising friend of Forestry, but he'll be out of office on March 4th.

SARGENT

I'm well aware of that.

PINCHOT

But, Hague has informed me that the President wants the Commission's Forest Management Report on his desk by November 1st.

SARGENT

Absolutely out of the question.

PINCHOT

But Professor, not only Arnold Hague, the President himself mentioned to me that he needs a chance to examine the report, so that he might refer to it in his annual message.


National Academy of Science
 SARGENT

The work of this Commission is at the behest of Dr. Wolcott Gibbs of the National Academy of Science. With all due respect to the President, I will not put my reputation, nor the reputations of the distinguished members of this Commission on the line for a presumed political advantage. Not to mention that any premature utterance from the Commission might compromise the integrity of Dr. Gibbs who --

PINCHOT

But Professor, you must recall that following the miserable failure of the National Forests Bill, that I helped draft at your suggestion, Dr. Gibbs suggested that...

SARGENT

I remember precisely what Wolcott Gibbs suggested.

PINCHOT

Exactly. Option #1 failed. So try Option #2. John, for your enlightenment, that's when we maneuvered to have the Secretary of the Interior, Hoke Smith, draft a letter to Dr. Gibbs calling on... this time... for the National Academy of Science to formally request a report.

SARGENT

Maneuvered!!! You make it sound like we're involved in chicanery of some sort.

PINCHOT

Not in the least. (pause) As a matter of fact, John, your Century magazine friend, R.U. Johnson went to Washington to hurry things up.

MUIR

Aye. Johnson did mention something...

PINCHOT

Meanwhile I got Bill Whitney to write Hoke Smith, and for added insurance, I asked Johnson for a letter to President Cleveland for the same purpose. And if the truth were to be told, it was Johnson and I who actually drafted the letter for Hoke to sign.

PINCHOT slaps his knees and laughs heartily.

Oh, this is politics at its best.

SARGENT

Gifford, you may recall that the meeting concerning the creation of the Forest Commission took place at my suggestion, at my home in Brookline, Massachusetts. Gifford, you were my guest, as was Dr. Gibbs, as were...

PINCHOT

Of course, I recall. (to MUIR) And what followed, John was a veritable stroke of genius. The new strategy was to forget about going before Congress to beg them to sanction a report. Those tactics were tried and failed. (laughs) At the pace we were forced to proceed, it would have taken a thousand years. Or to borrow your expression, it would have moved along at the speed of a glacier.

SARGENT

Don't hyperbolize.

PINCHOT

I'm not exaggerating. Congress stonewalled us, and that's a fact, because they didn't want the matter laid before the American people. So instead of confronting them directly, by enlisting the National Academy of Science into the stratagem....

SARGENT

(Exasperated) Stratagem? Stratagem!! Good God! This was not some wild scheme, some contrivance, cooked up merely to.... The meeting took place at my home, Gifford, because Dr. Gibbs and I have a long-standing personal and professional relationship... Oh no matter. Politics aside, the real point is, we hold the abject destruction of the American Forest to be a matter of grave national concern.

PINCHOT

Which is why it's important to give the President what he needs... namely, a timely report.

SARGENT

Gifford, you were not yet born when President Abraham Lincoln signed the National Academy into being. It was in 1863, during the Civil War.

MUIR

Aye. The War Between the States. The Great War. I went to Canada...

SARGENT

To Canada...?

MUIR

Yes. My brother, David and I were studying in Canada at the time. He became a physician.

SARGENT

Then perhaps you aren't aware that at the time of its creation, the purpose of the Academy was to serve the demands of the Civil War in the testing of new weapons. My memory is quite clear on the matter, because following my graduation from Harvard in 1862, I volunteered. I entered military service as a First Lieutenant in the Second Louisiana Infantry, under the command of the former Governor of Massachusetts, Nathaniel Banks.

PINCHOT

Professor, I never would have guessed. You're a veteran of the Civil War?

SARGENT

I served as the aide-de-camp for the General, and later as Captain.

PINCHOT

I had no idea...

SARGENT

I don't often speak of it. But as a young man, I too learned how to fire a rifle, but not for sport. I can assure you, not for sport. (pause) As the aide-de-camp, my responsibilities included keeping track of the dead and dying. Along with death by malaria, yellow fever and gangrene, the carnage was unbelievable. (on the verge of breaking-down) Arms and legs hacked off as if they were rag dolls. These were my men, torn apart, destroyed!

MUIR

Don't trouble yourself, auld friend.


SARGENT

(Composes himself) As the war wore on... the Bayou Teche, the Red River Campaign, the siege and capture of Port Hudson... we became desperate for any advantage that the science of weaponry could offer. To save the nation, the North had to win and as quickly as possible, with the best equipment possible. That is why the National Academy of Science came into existence...

PINCHOT

The National Academy of Science was part of the war effort?

SARGENT

Yes. And that is why it is fitting today to call upon the National Academy for help. (pause) Because once more the time has come to act... to have a "call to arms," so to speak... to save what remains of the great forests, the wilderness in the public domain of this great nation.

PINCHOT

Professor Sargent, please forgive me if I appeared to show a lack of respect. I wish to assure you, I have the highest regard for the sacrifices you and your men made during the war.

SARGENT

No matter. No matter.

PINCHOT

And I also have great admiration for your efforts on behalf of the forests of this country. Why, I've been an avid reader of Garden and Forest for years. Your editor, William Stiles has put together a first rate publication.

SARGENT

I thank you for your support.

PINCHOT

But the fact remains... Secretary of the Interior, Hoke Smith, wrote to the head of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Wolcott Gibbs, asking for statements and recommendations...

SARGENT

All in good time.

PINCHOT

Don't you see? The report must be laid before Congress for action during this session?

SARGENT

(Suppresses growing anger) All in good time, Gifford.

PINCHOT

He also went on to say, and who could argue with this, that a speedy change in the existing forest management policy of the United States of America is needed.

SARGENT

He went on to say....? You mean, you went on to say... Didn't you just confess that you wrote the letter for the Secretary of the Interior with Johnson's help?

PINCHOT

But Secretary Smith was fully aware of and agreed to the language.

SARGENT

A speedy change, indeed! The fact is, if an eventual timber famine is to be avoided, the federal government must set aside a good deal more of the forested areas of its public domain as forest preserves.

PINCHOT

You'll get no argument from me on that point.

SARGENT

Good. But, may I ask how a reformed national policy could be made without an examination of the forest?? Over thirteen million acres were placed in reserve five years ago, including Pikes Peak, but no one, until now, has conducted a formal investigation on which to base a formal report. And we're about to recommend that millions more be added!

PINCHOT

Yes. I'm aware of and agree with the need for an examination. Don't you recall? It was in the language of that failed piece of legislation, I drafted for you.

SARGENT

And do you place the blame for its failure at my feet?

PINCHOT

No. Of course I don't.You were very well intentioned.

SARGENT

(Sarcastically) Thank you for your admiration and support.

PINCHOT

Professor, the request for the report was made six months ago. I agreed then, as now, that the first priority for the Commission is to get into the Western woods and make an honest appraisal.

SARGENT

Absolutely!

PINCHOT

But as we continue to roam about, like prophets in the wilderness, the present Congressional session is coming to an end. Our only hope is to present something, if only an interim report, to President Cleveland before November 1st, as he suggested.

SARGENT

You're speaking on behalf of the President... according to what he said to you during your private meeting?

PINCHOT

That is correct. But there's another thing of equal importance.

SARGENT

Are you now speaking on behalf of the President or yourself?

PINCHOT

Myself, but I'm sure the President would agree.

MUIR

The President would agree???

SARGENT

The President would agree? To what?

PINCHOT

It wouldn't hurt to have a few newspapermen around to build public acceptance of our plans.

SARGENT

Newspaper men... reporting on the National Forest Commission's journey through the West? How intrusive!

PINCHOT

In my opinion, it would be a major political blunder to pass through the West without allowing the Western people to know what we're about!

SARGENT

Poppy cock!!

PINCHOT

A pack of Easterners telling Westerners what they can and cannot do with Western land is what almost killed off the National Forest Reserves in the first place. They have a right to know!

SARGENT

My dear Gifford, in your opinion, what exactly are we about? What plans have been laid out?

PINCHOT

As President Cleveland suggested, we should take up the organization of a governmental forest service first...

SARGENT crosses to PINCHOT.

SARGENT

The organization of a governmental forest service first?

PINCHOT

That is definitely what the President recommended.

SARGENT

And who would benefit from such a forest service? None but the politicians!!!

MUIR

Aye. And the political hacks they appoint to do their bidding.

PINCHOT

Nonetheless, President Cleveland suggested taking up the organization of a forest service first, and then working out the question of more reserves. Let's face facts. Since the Homestead Act in 1862, people have gotten use to the idea of maybe getting a piece of the public domain for themselves. Now if we come in as a pack of vigilantes... as if we're taking over and locking everything up...

SARGENT

Nothing has been formally discussed. Nothing has been agreed on by the Commission. And as for rousing the public sentiment, I firmly believe it will be against us.

PINCHOT

I agree. Especially if Westerners believe that no timber can be cut, no minerals mined, no roads can be built. And as for grazing... it will be the same old battle of 1891.

SARGENT

And what if all commercial use of the preserves were to be prohibited, not in name only, but with real teeth in the law?

PINCHOT

Then with a whoop and a cry so loud we'd never forget, the West would fight the forest reserves with their last breath. That's why proper management and regulations are so important for success. We must discuss them at the outset, and soon, so that we can present a plan before the American people which will allow them to see we understand... It's not saw milling itself that's the evil, nor is it sheep grazing for that matter. Rather it's the unregulated.....

MUIR

The professor has a point to make.

PINCHOT

I understand his desire to take matters slowly, but...

MUIR

Then I suggest you take it to heart. It's exciting for a young man to see his name in print, but you might be stirring up a hornet's nest... a protest whose persistent stings will drive you to distraction. I think you're ill prepared to understand what you're about.

PINCHOT

But I do understand. I've learned the lesson by heart. 'As fire follows the logger, so flood and erosion follows the fire.' Can't you two understand? If we delay any longer our chance may be lost. Who knows what the next administration will bring?

SARGENT

Muir and I have been spokesmen for a national forest policy for over 20 years...and with some success.

SARGENT walks to saddle packs and examines supplies.

MUIR

Aye. Twenty years ago, I placed before the American people the preservation of our forests for their great good... and to arouse legislators to take note of the economic importance and to check the destruction.

PINCHOT

John, I share your disgust at the unbridled destruction caused by the abhorrent practices of some timber harvesters and sawmill operators...

MUIR

The deadliest enemies of the forests and the public good are not the sawmills in spite of their slash fires and wastefulness. That unsavory distinction belongs to the "sheep men."

PINCHOT

But if sheep are properly regulated and controlled...

MUIR

Which sounds find and good, but how do you control a plague of biblical proportions? The Hoofed Locusts! The sheep!!! Every summer, incredible numbers of sheep are driven to the mountain pastures.

PINCHOT

I'm aware of that, but ...

MUIR

And in order to make easy paths and to improve the pastures, running fires are set everywhere to burn off the old logs and underbrush.

PINCHOT

But for centuries Indians have practiced forestry by setting fire to the woods.

SARGENT

Gifford, the fires set by sheep men are far more universal and destructive.

MUIR

Aye. Fires set by sheep men seep through nearly the entire forest belt of the range from one extremity to the other. And in the dry weather, before the coming on of storms, fires are everywhere.

SARGENT

(To PINCHOT) These fires are very destructive to all kinds of young trees. The fact is, you can't compare the rather benign practices of Indians to sheep men.

MUIR

Aye. Indians burn off forests to clear land for agriculture and improve hunting... for deer and such. Though sometimes it gets out of hand.

SARGENT

(To PINCHOT) So, I hardly recommend you emulate the practice.

MUIR

Aye. And campers of all kinds... and mill-men... permit fires to run. But sheep men are more destructive than would be guessed. Sheep men are the worst transgressors. Ninety percent of all destructive fires that sweep the woods are set by the sheep men. You cannot deny it.

PINCHOT

But, with scientifically based regulations, determined by a careful analysis of the hydraulics of streams and wind velocities, and...

MUIR

You cannot regulate ignorance. And you cannot control fire burning wild and free.

PINCHOT

But you can regulate fire. Look. Both Harry Graves and I studied with Professor Brewer, and later in Europe. Harry and I are both well-grounded, not just in studies about the trees, and forests... but about the effects of fire and wind. We've learned to make valuation surveys on the lay of the land. And Arnold Hague and I have galloped off more than once to investigate a very different view of the forest. He's been teaching me about the hydraulics of stream-beds, and the way they're dependant on the forests.

SARGENT

I'm willing to venture, that's what's keeping Hague. He's wandering about... inspecting every creek, every stream bed, while we starve.

MUIR

More than likely.

PINCHOT

General Abbot and Hague are engineers. They need to write a report.

SARGENT

I have no objection to their gathering information, but if we're to get to the Peak before sunset...

PINCHOT

Oh, we'll make it. Meanwhile if General Abbot and Arnold Hague make discoveries that can be shaped into policies which can help the government gain control of the practices of sheep men, or anyone else that threatens the ...

MUIR

Whether our loose-jointed government is really able or willing to do anything on the matter remains to be seen.

PINCHOT

We have the ear of the President. That's a good start. And if the Forest Commission presents an intelligent, well-thought-out...

MUIR

If our law-makers were to discover and enforce any method tending to lessen even in a small degree the destruction going on, they would cover a multitude of legislative sins in the eyes of every tree lover.

PINCHOT

John, I agree. And the exciting thing is that the key to lessening the destruction is finally within reach. We have the ear of the President. That's a good start. And if the Forest Commission presents an intelligent, well thought out report... Can't you see that the key to lessening the destruction is finally within reach?

MUIR

Through the report you're planning?

PINCHOT

Yes, the report. But more than that - by enforcing a special method - and that method, if I have any say in the matter, will be at the very foundation of the report. And if it is, I can assure you, it will be a report like no other. It will be ground breaking.

SARGENT

Ground breaking? How so?

PINCHOT

Put aside, for the moment that some corrupt politicians will vote only for whatever is in it for themselves. And no matter how good the report, they will be against it.

MUIR

Aye. That they will.

PINCHOT

But the key to the whole situation lies in the fact that for years and years, earnest men in power have wanted something better, but for years their efforts have been wasted. Why? Because the special knowledge of what to do and how to do it was not at hand?

MUIR

And you've acquired that special enlightenment? Have you now?

PINCHOT

Yes. Yes, I have... through the Principles of Forestry, as practiced by scientific men, with free and open minds.

SARGENT

The Principles of Forestry practiced by Men of Science! Ha. Glorified timber harvesters!

PINCHOT

Professor, I realize that as a botanist it may be difficult for you to understand that forestry is not botany, but something vastly different.

MUIR

As a young man, I too was a scientist, an inventor, taken with my own cleverness.

PINCHOT

Forestry is not only a suitable, but an admirable vocation. And any forester worth his salt would not be at the beck and call of every politician with a debt to so-called constituents determined to keep on looting and ravaging the land.

SARGENT

You may be well-intentioned, Gifford, but you're also extremely naive.

PINCHOT

I hardly think so. To be frank, I'm determined that Congress, and the great universities of this nation, and the man in the street, for that matter, come to know, beyond a doubt, the incredible usefulness that...

MUIR

Gifford, when I was your age - in my excitement for earning a living and advancing in the eyes of man - while working in my trade, by accident I blinded myself. At first I thought my sight would come back. But as the days passed and I lay in darkness, I feared I'd be blind forever.

SARGENT

What unspeakable suffering!

MUIR

I promised God, that if I recovered, I would devote the rest of my life to studying the true inventions, the inventions of His Holy Creation.

SARGENT

As it says in Isaiah, "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them."

MUIR

Aye. And by a miracle, I regained my sight and was filled with His holy light. I walked a thousand miles to the Gulf of Mexico to see God's glory in a thousand forms. In my knapsack I carried a plant press for botanizing, a bit of tea and crackers, and books... Shakespeare, Bobbie Burns, Paradise Lost and the Bible. And with the miracle of sight I saw 'none other than the gate of God, and the gate of heaven...'

SARGENT

The Book of Genesis.

MUIR

And a Genesis it was for me. Since that sacred sojourn, I've embraced the wonders of creation on high in the mountains, and along the frozen glaciers, and the canyons' depth, and the primeval wilderness that remains. Ocean and sky are filled with foam and wild light, barbarous charms. Wild is finer than tame. Nature is a good mother, and all your so-called moral and scientific improving cannot touch her grandeur.

PINCHOT

To my way of thinking, John, the forest is as beautiful as it is useful, and there's a scientific way to manage it. I believe that the only safe forest is a useful one!

SARGENT

The only safe forest is a useful one? What balderdash!!

MUIR

Choose the right path into the forest, Gifford. Man takes the tree from the woods, manures and prunes and grafts. But what does man give back to nature?

PINCHOT

But that's what's different about forestry. It does give back. It's not just.... horticulture, or arbori-culture for that matter.

MUIR

(Intense) Civilization is overwrought by its own contrivances!!
Pure wildness is the one, great, present want... that all your great science can never engineer.

PINCHOT

Which is why we need more National Parks.

MUIR

Aye. We need National Parks... National Shrines to worship the wonders of God's Creations. But why must we only embrace a region which contains no mines of consequences, or that is too high and too rocky for agriculture and of "little use" to the lumber industry? Is this all we can spare of God's great natural gifts?

SARGENT

You know what I'm about, Muir. I stopped the shameful waste of our heritage in the Adirondack. Today, not one tree can be cut and removed from any public forest land in New York.

MUIR

A true guardian of the forest. That you are.

SARGENT

That is my intent, exactly. As for the Forest Report... when we return...

PINCHOT

Professor, I understand. You want to wait until we return East. (pause) Perhaps it is for the best.

MUIR

No. Why wait? The hour has come. "And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the Nation." Thus spake Saint John the Divine. (To SARGENT) Seize the moment, man. Seize the moment! Rise up Lazarus and bear witness to the light.

SARGENT

The light?

MUIR

Charles, the truth IS the light. The power is in your hands, as Chairman of the Commission... the Sacred Trust...

SARGENT

Of course. Of course!! Gifford, gather the Commission members together. It's time to begin.

PINCHOT

You want a meeting, here and now?

SARGENT

Glen Cove Lodge is at 11,425 feet, according to the guide book. That should be several hours further up the trail. We can spend the night there, and worry about the Peak tomorrow. In the meanwhile, I say its time for a campfire, refreshments and discussion. And as we congregate round the fire, let us commence to select forest preserves and parks worth a fight.

MUIR

Aye. They'll be worth a fight. But this time don't accept compromise, taking only the left-overs. We'll fight a holy fight unmindful of the powerful takers and destroyers.

SARGENT

A report worth fighting for... that's it exactly, Muir.

MUIR

And then let our lawgivers make haste, before it's too late, to save every surpassingly glorious region that can be withheld for the recreation and well-being of humanity, and the world.

SARGENT

We shall save all that's worth saving.

PINCHOT

Gentlemen, and as we rustle up some grub, perhaps we can finally begin to review the land surveys?

SARGENT

That will take time, but we can make a start.

PINCHOT

Well, it's certain we need to start. John, before I scout out the men, would you mind helping me collect some kindling to start a fire.

MUIR scouts the entrance to the path for wood. PINCHOT finds some wood nearby.

SARGENT

(Rubs his hands together) Yes. It's time to gather round the campfire and begin.

SARGENT unpacks a couple cans of condensed milk from saddle pack.

That's odd. I thought I packed several dozen cans of condensed milk for this trip.

PINCHOT

I had to take most of them out to make room for other supplies.

SARGENT

I find that most annoying. Most annoying. I distinctly recall stating that the nourishment contained in just one can of condensed milk more than equals...

PINCHOT

General Abbot and Hague sorted through the packs. And considering that they've been on hundreds of expeditions through far rougher country...

SARGENT

I made a personal request due to the specifics of my gastronomical requirements. Frankly, I expected to have my request honored.

SARGENT pulls out several flasks of whiskey, unscrews the tops and sniffs.

And what is this, may I ask? Whiskey? My milk was replaced with...

PINCHOT

Professor, you packed over 3 dozen cans of condensed milk. This is only a side trip.

SARGENT

Whisky for milk? Well, at least it takes the chill off.

MUIR continues to gather firewood and attempts to ignore the squabble, as SARGENT unloads and inspects the packs, sorting goods.

MUIR

There's more kindling back down the path. (begins to exit) I'll make a hunt for the others. You stay here with Charles. You're out of sorts, when now's the time your needing to see eye to eye.

PINCHOT

Before you go. Just a word. (to MUIR privately) I suspect you think my upbringing prepared me for a life of leisure and snobbery. And this forestry business is just a lark...

MUIR

Gifford, I understand I bewilder you, but I mean to encourage.

PINCHOT

I hope you learn to trust my brand of mountain thinking too. Because, through you, I have been able to go deep... thrust my very being into forest life... not merely learning to appreciate the trees and forest cover, but the life within the forest...

MUIR

There's not a braver, heartier, keener, carefree enjoyment of life.

PINCHOT

Through you I have come to believe that no one can really know the forest without feeling the gentle influence of one of the kindliest and strongest parts of nature.

MUIR

That is the path.

PINCHOT

But I've also come to know that the forest... from every point of view... is one of the most helpful friends of man. Perhaps no other agent has done so much for the human race and has been so recklessly used and so little understood.

MUIR

I understand man's need for the works of nature and the proud role America has played in allowing peoples to embrace the land. As a bairn of eleven I came with my father from Scotland and our family made our home, our farm in the back woods of Wisconsin. The United States Government has always been proud of the welcome to good men of every nation seeking freedom and homes and bread. I say, let them be welcomed still as nature welcomes them, to the woods as well as to the prairies and to the plains... The ground will be glad to feed them, and the pines will come down from the mountains for their homes as willingly as the cedars came from Lebanon for Solomon's temple. Nor will the woods be worse for their use, or their benign influences be diminished.

PINCHOT

Then you do understand.

MUIR

Mere destroyers, however, tree-killers, spreading death and confusion in the fairest groves and gardens ever planted, are the evildoer, the Cain in this Paradise. Let the government hasten to cast them out and make an end of them.

PINCHOT

As a forester I believe in harvesting timber stands, but I am not a destroyer. Believe me, I am not the fox guarding the chicken coop.

MUIR

But you are a fox.

PINCHOT

I am not cut from my grandfather's mold. I am not a land speculator bent on scarring the landscape, denuding hills, eroding terrain. My friend, I fish in streams, why should I fill them with silt? I hunt game. Why should I destroy the forest... home to game and other forms of wildlife?

MUIR

Why, indeed.

PINCHOT

John, I believe as you do that man is not separate from creation, but an essential part of it. We will shape our environs for good or for ill.

MUIR

Aye. That we will.

PINCHOT

There must be a way to turn the destruction around. And I pledge to you, I will do everything in my power to do so. But I also pledge to you, I will not turn my back on the public good.

Alan Womer as John Muir
MUIR

Aye. There's the rub. The public good, and the farmer's good, and the merchant's good. Gifford, there was a lovely meadow beside Fountain lake on my father's first Wisconsin farm. During the mid-sixties, when I was about to leave my boyhood home forever, I found unbearable the thought of leaving this precious meadow unprotected. I offered to purchase it from my brother-in-law on condition that cattle and hogs be securely fenced out. But, he treated my request as a sentimental dream.

PINCHOT

Look. I sympathize with your personal attachment to a....

MUIR

In time, that meadow was trampled out of existence. Gifford, my soul was baptized in that meadow and an idea was born. A dream of parks blooming and growing throughout America in which plant societies can be protected in their natural state. And I think of the forest reserves and their need for protecting. Think on it too, Gifford. The forest wilds need protecting.

After MUIR exits, SARGENT and PINCHOT busy themselves until PINCHOT finally breaks the silence.

PINCHOT

Look, Professor, I'm sorry about your canned milk.

SARGENT

(Looks up from sorting of goods) I suppose, I'll have to be sparing in my use.

I accept we all have sacrifices that have to be made. But whiskey for milk is a bad bargain, in my opinion. But no matter, we all have to get along, at least for now.

PINCHOT

Thanks for being a good sport about it.

SARGENT

No matter. As a young man I might have made a similar mistake, too. Youth is sometimes prone to recklessness.

PINCHOT

But I didn't substitute whiskey for milk! I repacked it with other food supplies.

SARGENT

Oh, I'd forgotten. You laid the blame on Hague and the General.

PINCHOT

Of course, I was there and I could have stopped it. So, I apologize.

SARGENT

Apology accepted.

SARGENT takes out pocket watch, looks up at sun.

It's half past noon and there's a chill in the air. No telling what the night will bring. I trust no one's chucked the blankets out to stash away a few more flasks.

PINCHOT

(Laughs) I hope not. That would be very rash.

SARGENT

Very rash, indeed.

PINCHOT

Look. When, Graves and I went on that trek for about ten days, before I caught up with the Commission... What I saw was beyond disgrace! Believe me, Muir's campaign against the wasteful destruction of lumber companies was amply illustrated. At Millville, outside of the Sierra Forest Reserves, I ran into a gigantic and gigantically wasteful lumbering of the great Sequoias. The trunks were so huge many had to be blown apart before they could be handled..

SARGENT

And that was but a small sample of what Muir has witnessed. His is a great soul that has been wracked by wanton destruction.

PINCHOT

Well. I can tell you this. Harry and I were glad we weren't with John. He would have been driven wild.

SARGENT

Gifford, if your affection and respect for Muir is considerable, as you are quick to claim, you will drop your insistence on including the organization of a governmental forest service in the report. Your dream of permanent employment of technically trained forest officers, who would take charge of the preserves, must remain just that...a dream!

PINCHOT

A dream? But, why? I've been hard at work trying to convince anyone of influence that would listen.

SARGENT

Of that fact, I am painfully aware. I can barely state my case, before someone points out to me... your program.

PINCHOT

My program? It's hardly mine.

SARGENT

Well then, whose is it? Why, a year ago last November, you read a paper before the Saturday Club in Boston in which you attacked my hard-won victory! In my own backyard, you attack me!! I am referring to the forest lands of New York State in the Adirondack. Someone recently had the courage to inform me that you claimed my preservation plans were destined to prevent the proper care of these woodlands for the next twenty years!

PINCHOT

It's the growing opinion of anyone who knows anything about forest management practices, both here and abroad, that the practice of forestry in forest reserve lands does not necessitate their withdrawal from use.

SARGENT

A growing opinion? Ha! You are propagating that opinion. You vigorously proselytize it. That's how it grows!

PINCHOT

I am actively engaged in doing exactly what my mother counseled me to do many long years ago... to help make public opinion that will force the Government to do what ought to be done.

SARGENT

Nearly a decade ago, I proposed three things in my Garden and Forest magazine to save the wilderness preserves of this nation. I made these recommendations while cut to the quick in my efforts to save the Adirondack from years of gross mismanagement.

PINCHOT

Unfortunately, what happened in New York is an all too typical scenario. But with government sponsored foresters...

SARGENT

I am speaking of governmental mismanagement. Why, the very Guardians of the state forest handed them over to the lumbermen under the alleged protection of totally inadequate restraints.

PINCHOT

You forget. I'm an avid reader of your magazine. I know what happened in the Adirondack by heart.

SARGENT

Then you understand why all public forest-bearing lands need the Army to protect them.

PINCHOT

I suppose your reliance on the Army is born from your experiences in the Civil War.

SARGENT

Not altogether. But in part, that's true.

PINCHOT

And your proposal is where I came in... That failed piece of legislation, would have charged the President to appoint a Special Forest Commission.

SARGENT

No matter. As the fates dictated, the President didn't appoint the Commission, the National Academy did. But the goals are the same, and I intend to stick to my guns. As far as any plan for the administration and control of the dozen or more forest preserves that will be recommended by this Commission, there is only one plan worth a damn. And I intend to have my say. So you can stop your politicking, Gifford.

PINCHOT

But there may be members of the Commission who agree with me.

SARGENT

In this, they agree with me. All citizens, save the Army are to be barred from entry into government wilderness preserves.

PINCHOT

Wait. Are you proposing preserves, not forest reserves?

SARGENT

That is what I propose - complete preservation.

PINCHOT

Preserves!! Millions of acres of forests barred to everyone except the Army??

SARGENT

There is no other way to save them. This Western expedition of ours has convinced me more than ever. Complete preservation is the only answer. My mind is made up and that decision is final!

PINCHOT

That's madness! We could be adding 20 million acres or more. And there are nearly 18 million acres already in reserve. You're telling me, you want no practical use of these forest lands, whatsoever?

SARGENT

This wilderness must be saved at all costs. I will stake my career... my very life on that decision. This wilderness is sacred... out of bounds...

PINCHOT

Nearly 40 million acres totally forbidden from entry or use? The American people will never stand for it. Why, there would be an end to development. How could the West grow and prosper? Professor Sargent, this could trigger another Civil War. But this time between the East and West. Haven't you seen enough war?

SARGENT

That's ridiculous. Another Civil War! There's enough land in private hands. Between the Homestead Act and the Timber and Stone Act, there are millions of acres in private hands.

PINCHOT

You would cut off all hope for the West? Never to use vast acres of their natural resources? No hunting, or fishing, either, I suppose?

SARGENT

Trust me. There is no other way to stop the destruction. One has only to look at the disaster at Yellowstone. Ulysses S. Grant would be appalled at what the American people have done to his park! Slashing and ripping... axes and saws have gouged out vast acres of park lands, and the government has stood-by... powerless!

PINCHOT

But under proper supervision, I'm sure that...

SARGENT

Supervision was tried. One civilian superintendent, after another, did nothing except to protest and write reports to Washington, until 1883. That year, an act was passed, through the support of your friend, President Cleveland, which authorized the Secretary of War, on request of the Secretary of the Interior, to dispatch troops to protect the park. The commanding officer of the detachment served as the park superintendent, and even then there was trouble.

PINCHOT

Perhaps there are times when military intervention is the only way to restore peace, but once it's restored, professional men, trained in forest service, would most assuredly be adequate for the job.

SARGENT

Gifford, you're missing the point. Under this law, the Secretary of the Interior is able to appeal for help from the Secretary of War. That is what President Cleveland sanctioned. Strength! Not weakness!! The President put teeth in the law. (pause) And it has come to my attention that you want to remove the forest reserves from the Department of the Interior to the Division of Forestry! How ridiculous. My dear young man, this is war. This is war!

PINCHOT

The Division of Forestry is under civil service. That means that new employees would be required to take examinations to prove their qualifications. And if they had to carry guns to protect themselves, so be it. These men would be qualified, smart and tough.

SARGENT

Not tough enough. Military control of the Forest Reserves - and if I have my way, Preserves - would mean strong, capable soldiers, defending these precious lands with the same dedication they have served their country. And these men would be more than qualified. Each soldier would receive military instruction in Forestry at West Point in an experimental forest. Full control of Forest Reservations could then be in the hands of Army officers and an enlisted body of forest guards.

PINCHOT

Trained at West Point?

SARGENT

Gifford, I have tried to be both a mentor and a friend. I requested that you come with me on this journey. Now, try to see beyond the scope of your dreams and ambitions, into what's best for the wilderness.

PINCHOT

Forest guards and army officers. The natural world... imprisoned? Just as civilization works hard to imprison all that's natural and good in modern man.

Why, even John Muir would be stunned...!

SARGENT

Don't be histrionic! Your ingenuousness knows no bounds.

PINCHOT

Histrionic? I'm hardly that.

SARGENT

Gifford, listen to me. Poachers and timber harvesters have killed rather than surrender their booty. You don't know what you'd be up against. If you had your way, you and your forest service friends would be led like sheep to the slaughter. Gifford, the skeletons of Park Rangers have been found after the snows melted, with their skulls bashed in! (silence)

PINCHOT

Yes. I've heard stories.

SARGENT

When Captain Moses Harris of the First Calvary arrived with his troops at Yellowstone, wagon loads of logs were being carted out. Tourists and hunters were camped by the springs and geysers. They treated the public park as if it were theirs with full rights and privileges of ownership. Why, it was a snake pit of poachers.

PINCHOT

Not to excuse murder, but Yellowstone's a park, a National Park. People believe it belongs to them.

SARGENT

Exactly. The hunters poached at will and tourists carried off arm loads of mineral specimens. It didn't take long before Captain Harris restored law and order, but the months and years of neglect and raids on this property had wrecked havoc on the exquisite beauty of this sacred place. Armed guard details alone brought law and order.

PINCHOT

But the Forest Reserves are different? They're merely forests held in reserve. Of course, if you wanted to protect some as Preserves...

SARGENT

To turn nearly 40 million acres over to anyone less than a specially trained and armed forestry unit would be an abandonment of the trust the American people have placed in this Commission.

PINCHOT

So under the Forest Report you're about to propose as law... the only possible conclusion the American people can draw is that this vast area will be locked up... settlers kept out, and all development permanently prevented. And you imagine the West won't rise up?

MUIR enters with an arm-load of wood and drops it by the campfire.

SARGENT

They have brought this on themselves. Today gullies sprout everywhere from excessive logging and overgrazing. Without this protection, I prophesy floods and wild fires, land wasted and ravaged... Like the plagues of Egypt, these bitter fruits will descend from unwise land use.

MUIR

As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

PINCHOT

But when a part of an old forest approaches its regeneration, why not cut it?

What is the consequence? More light falls upon the ground, and a plentiful crop of seedling follows, and grows. The forest is perpetuated, and a profitable yield is secured, which pays all the charges of its maintenance.

MUIR

Profitable yield, to be sure. The axe and the saw are insanely busy, chips are flying thick as snowflakes.

SARGENT

Every summer thousand of acres of priceless forests, with their underbrush, soils, springs, special climate and scenery are vanishing away in clouds of smoke.

PINCHOT

(Begins to exit) But Professor... John... can't you see if only... Oh, what's the use. Look. I pledge to you, if you move forward with this plan to lock up the vast forests of the West... I will do my level best to prevent your carrying out this scheme. Now that's the unvarnished truth! (silence) I'll round up the men. It's time to begin.

MUIR

Never mind. They'll be along shortly.

SARGENT

And what about the beast that caused all the ruckus?

MUIR

She's settled down and is as content as a cow, grazing in a field.

SARGENT

Why then, what could have possessed her?

MUIR

A yellow jacket in the ear. The pestie had a wild ride in the dark hollow to be sure. But in time, it conducted itself out and flew fast and far away.

PINCHOT

A yellow jacket? (laughs) A yellow jacket in the old nag's ear.

PINCHOT laughs heartily as he prepares to light the fire.

And I prophesy, so it will be with the Sargent Forest Report. It will fly into the ear of Congress and there's no telling what might happen.

MUIR

The Forest Report, lad? One man with a thousand dollar yellow jacket in his ear will make more bewildering noise and do more kicking and fighting on certain public measures than a million working men minding their own business.

SARGENT

Well said, Muir.

PINCHOT

(To himself) A million working men whose monetary interests are not yet apparent.

SARGENT

(To Muir) What did he say?

PINCHOT strikes a flint and prepares to light the fire.

PINCHOT

But soon the light will dawn. And the awakened millions will convince western senators and congressmen that the forest reserves, properly managed, could be a tremendous boon to the West.

SARGENT

What was that, Gifford? What was it you said? I tell you, I will not have my plans undermined. Your damned politics will not be tolerated. Do you hear me?

MUIR

Never mind, auld friend. Gifford's just a mumbling to himself.

The MEN prepare their western picnic as the...

Lights fade to black



THE END


Charles Sprague Sargent

Epilogue

NARRATOR

In the end, Pinchot's arguments did not persuade Sargent. The Commission did its work in Sargent's time and at Sargent's pace.

President Cleveland did not receive his interim report until February, just two weeks before he was to leave office. When he acted immediately on their recommendations, designating thirteen new reserves containing over twenty-one million acres, a furor ensued that took months to resolve.

Westerns were convinced that millions of acres were being declared permanently off-limits for development. Since the Commission had held no public hearings and allowed no press reports of their activities, no one knew their true intentions.

Almost immediately Congress attached a rider to a spending bill that would have overturned the designations, but Cleveland left office without signing the bill. His veto put forestry on the front pages of newspapers all across America.

Largely unnoticed amidst the furor, the report of the National Forest Commission was submitted to the Secretary of the Interior on May 1, 1897.

The report reflected many of Sargent's views, including military protection of the reserves. Pinchot, of course, disagreed with much of it. He agonized over signing it, even considering for awhile the possibility of writing a minority report. In the end, painfully aware of the further damage that could be done if the Commission did not stick together, he signed along with the others.

The report proposed a system of forestry administration that took into account the fact that the lands needed to perform their part in the economy of the nation, and could not be withdrawn from all occupation and use. They did, however, ban the grazing of sheep.

On June 4, 1897, Congress suspended the Cleveland reserves, opening them up once more for homesteading and development, but only for a period of nine months. It also removed any existing restrictions on entering the reserves. More importantly, it provided for the management, preservation, and use of existing and future reserves, giving authority over them to the Secretary of the Interior.


Gifford Pinchot
 The act had barely been signed by the President when the Secretary of the Interior offered Pinchot a position as a special forestry agent. Pinchot's acceptance of the position was to Sargent a clear expression of bad faith, most likely an attempt to push Pinchot's ideas above those of the Commission. The breach it created between the two men was never closed.

Sargent, disillusioned by his experience with politics, and embittered by what he regarded as ingratitude on the part of his one-time protégé, withdrew to his beloved Arboretum to spend the remainder of his life in botanical research, experimentation, and writing.

John Muir returned to California, where his influence and fame continued to grow. His Sierra Club took on new life when it began organizing annual membership trips into Yosemite, led by the famed naturalist. He continue to fight to protect natural areas, submitting his plan to President Taft in 1911.

Muir and Pinchot continued their friendship for a number of years, but they, too, came to a parting of the ways in 1906 over the siting of the Hech Hechy Dam, a project that Pinchot supported and Muir opposed.

"Hetch Hetchy Valley, far from being a plain, common, rock-bound meadow, as many who have not seen it seem to suppose, is a grand landscape garden, one of Nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples. As in Yosemite, the sublime rocks of its walls seem to glow with life, whether leaning back in repose or standing erect in thoughtful attitudes, giving welcome to storms and calms alike, their brows in the sky, their feet set in the groves and gay flowery meadows, while birds, bees, and butterflies help the river and waterfalls to stir all the air into music—things frail and fleeting and types of permanence meeting here and blending, just as they do in Yosemite, to draw her lovers into close and confiding communion with her."

"Sad to say, this most precious and sublime feature of the Yosemite National Park, one of the greatest of all our natural resources for the uplifting joy and peace and health of the people, is in danger of being dammed and made into a reservoir to help supply San Francisco with water and light, thus flooding it from wall to wall and burying its gardens and groves one or two hundred feet deep. This grossly destructive commercial scheme has long been planned and urged (though water as pure and abundant can be got from sources outside of the people’s park, in a dozen different places), because of the comparative cheapness of the dam and of the territory which it is sought to divert from the great uses to which it was dedicated in the Act of 1890 establishing the Yosemite National Park." 
             John Muir

SOURCE: Source: John Muir, The Yosemite (New York: Century, 1912), 255–257, 260–262. Reprinted in Roderick Nash, The American Environment: Readings in The History of Conservation (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1968).

President Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir

Historic Photos:  Library of Congress
Production Photo Credit:  Genevieve Fraser