Posts Tagged ‘This Is Dinosaur’

The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism 7

December 13th, 2010

The Battle Heats Up to Save Dinosaur National Monument from Dams and Philip Hyde’s Photographs Begin to See More Use

(Continued from the previous blog post, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth of Modern Environmentalism 6.”)

Sculptured Boulders, Hells Canyon, Dinosaur National Monument, 1951 by Philip Hyde.

In early 1953, finally David Brower proposed a Sierra Club campaign against the two proposed dams in Dinosaur National Monument. The Sierra Club Board approved the campaign on the grounds that it was imperative to maintain the integrity of the National Park System. In May 1953 David Brower enlisted the donated services of Charles Eggert, a professional photographer, to make a quality film covering the river trips and promoting alternatives to the dams. Martin Litton, a pilot and Los Angeles Times editor and writer, who loved the outdoors and the Sierra from his youth, wrote a series of articles condemning the Colorado River Storage Project in the Los Angles Times. David Brower saw Martin Litton’s articles and convinced him to join the Sierra Club. Martin Litton then began to write articles for the Sierra Club Bulletin while continuing his editorial efforts with the Los Angeles Times.

This Is Dinosaur: Wallace Stegner, Philip Hyde and Martin Litton

In 1955 David Brower enlisted novelist and Stanford writing professor Wallace Stegner to write the forward and edit This Is Dinosaur: Echo Park Country and Its Magic Rivers. Philip Hyde’s photographs joined those of Martin Litton and others to illustrate the book. This Is Dinosaur: Echo Park Country and Its Magic Rivers was the first book ever published for an environmental cause. As a result, Wallace Stegner, who later won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Angle of Repose, became a writer and spokesman for the Sierra Club, and as a land preservation advocate in general. The proposed dams in Dinosaur National Monument turned into a heated national debate in Congressional committees between development interests and an alliance of environmental coalitions including the Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs and the Council of Conservationists. David Brower and the Sierra Club gathered and led the coalition of various organizations.

The environmental coalition rallied the American people around the idea of maintaining the integrity of the National Park System by not allowing any development in Dinosaur National Monument. The Sierra Club used what would become its standard strategy of publicizing, initiating a letter-writing campaign and encouraging recreational use of the threatened area. In 1950, about 13,000 people visited Dinosaur and only 50 of those by river. In 1954 nearly 71,000 visitors showed up, and more than 900 rafted Dinosaur’s canyons. Philip Hyde’s photographs of Dinosaur National Monument appeared with articles in National Geographic, the Sierra Club Bulletin, Life and other national publications. Martin Litton on his own wrote a series of articles not only for the Los Angeles Times but after he became managing editor of Sunset Magazine. He wrote articles for Sunset Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle on Dinosaur National Monument. Also independent from the Sierra Club, Bernard DeVoto wrote an article in the Atlantic Monthly that raised the national awareness about the Dinosaur controversy. As a result of these efforts Americans began to write letters and over 200 Members of Congress turned against the Colorado River Storage Project. A copy of This is Dinosaur landed on the desk of every member of the House, the Senate, most high-level management in the Department of Interior and newspaper editors nationwide.

The Glen Canyon Sacrifice

The Sierra Club maintained that the water storage and power generating capacity lost by eliminating the Dinosaur dams, could be made up downstream on the Colorado River by building the proposed Glen Canyon Dam higher. As David Brower’s team of volunteer engineers looked into the technical aspects, they calculated that the proposed Glen Canyon dam, if built higher, could store more water with less evaporation than the dams planned in Dinosaur National Monument. The Bureau of Reclamation argued that Echo Park would evaporate more than an enlarged Glen Canyon dam. David Brower’s team not only found errors in Bureau of Reclamation evaporation figures, but discovered flaws and miscalculations in the entire project. The proposed reservoirs in dry years would evaporate more water than they could store from wet years. Environmentalists ultimately won the battle to prevent dams in Dinosaur with the numbers that proved the economics unsound.

“They were trying to build so many dams to hold over storage from the wet years to the dry years that in the period it was held over it would have an enormous amount of evaporation and the water benefit would be negative,” David Brower said. “We were building excellent opposition to the whole project because its economics were now being shown to be faulty. Its hydrology—its engineering of the river—was becoming transparently faulty.” In the Congressional hearings David Brower used what he called ninth grade math to question the Bureau’s figures. “In the course of our looking into the project,” David Brower said at a water resources hearing in San Francisco, “We found it distressingly full of errors, contradiction, inconsistencies and very questionable arithmetic, which is slowly being admitted, item by item.”

Conservation Becomes Modern Environmentalism

In The History of the Sierra Club Michael Cohen said that a group of the leaders of conservation organizations, who called themselves the Council of Conservationists, accepted a donation from Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr., a longtime Sierra Club member and ran a full-page advertisement in the Denver Post on the eve of a meeting of the Upper Colorado River Basin development groups, who stood to gain from the building of the dams. The ad read, “Conservationists who have been leading this battle are NOT anti-reclamationists [not against dam building or against the Bureau of Reclamation], and are NOT fighting the principle of water use in the west.” It warned that their position was stronger than ever since the deficiencies of the proposal were now exposed, that the Dinosaur dams were “obviously extravagant” and “serve far more local political purposes than national economic purposes.” The ad further admonished that congressmen would have to explain an expensive, “controversial project far away,” in an election year. The campaign to save Dinosaur National Monument with it’s use of full-page advertisements coupled with a diverse strategy of publicity, a letter-writing campaign, Congressional lobbying and other political and activist tactics transformed conservation into modern environmentalism.

Congress rewrote the Upper Colorado Storage Project Bill without the dams in Dinosaur and inserted the phrase, “no dam or reservoir constructed under the authorization of this act shall be within any national park or monument.” The environmental groups withdrew opposition and the bill easily passed. David Brower and other conservation leaders afterward regretted that they did not continue opposition to the whole project and thereby save Glen Canyon. Martin Litton said, “If we hadn’t believed in ourselves, we never would have stopped the Dinosaur thing. If we had believed in ourselves enough, we would have stopped Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River.” Wallace Stegner succinctly expressed that at the core of the controversy was the resource-based “development-minded corporate West.”

“Dinosaur was a great turning point in the Sierra Club’s interest and in other people’s interest in the canyon country,” Philip Hyde said. “The more people used the monument, the less power it gave the Bureau of Wreck-the-Nation. It was a turning point for them too. Before that they thought they had carte-blanche to go anywhere and do anything they wanted to, regardless of whether the area had been legally preserved or not. It also probably was a turning point in the use of rivers. People discovered that running rivers was great fun and a wonderful way to see the country. A few years later the Bureau reached for the Grand Canyon and got slapped down by letters and communications from all over the world.”

(CONTINUED IN THE BLOG POST, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism 8.”)

 

Glen Canyon Lament By Philip Hyde 2

November 19th, 2010
Landscape Photography Blogger’s 100th Blog Post started a short three part series on Glen Canyon by Philip Hyde…

A Lament for Glen Canyon by Philip Hyde, Part 2

Continued from Blog Post 100, “Glen Canyon Lament by Philip Hyde 1.”

Originally published in The Living Wilderness Magazine September 1980

From The Living Wilderness: Contributing editor Philip Hyde’s photography of the Escalante region was featured in “Slickrock,” of which he and Edward Abbey wrote the text.

Great Overhang, Moqui Canyon, Glen Canyon, Utah, 1964 by Philip Hyde. Photographed after the gates of Glen Canyon Dam were already closed and "Lake" Powell began its 17 year journey toward filling.

(See the photograph full screen Click Here.)

During the 17 years of painfully slow filling of the reservoir, the “robbing Peter to pay Paul” operation  of Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams has left some mementoes: the notices to Hoover Dam power customers to get their power elsewhere; the lawsuits of Lake Mead marina operators when they found their boat-launching ramps not just high and dry but nearly out of sight of water. To make a power dam pay for itself, as both Hoover and Glen were intended to do, requires running water through the turbines. Whenever this is done it draws down the reservoir. During the years that the bureau was trying to fill Glen’s reservoir, it had to borrow water that would have filled Lake Mead. What did this do to the revenues which were the sole financial justification for building both dams? What did it do to the revenue surplus over cost-payback that was supposed to furnish the funds to build the irrigation works planned in association with Glen Canyon Dam as part of the Upper Colorado River Storage Project?

Whatever the answers to such economic questions, the sacrifice of another kind of value is plain enough. Back in the 1930s National Park Service officials were sufficiently impressed with both Glen and Escalante Canyons to urge making them a national park. A 1935 proposal would have created one of 6,000 square miles. But the dam-building fever-the late Elmer Davis once called it “big dam foolishness”—which seized the nation in the 30s and 40s and 50s led to legislation to build a number of dams on the Colorado and its tributaries, including Glen Canyon. Two of them—Echo Park and Split Mountain, proposed for the Green River within Dinosaur National Monument—raised the specter of opening national parks to exploitation and thus aroused the opposition of every major conservation organization in the nation. In those days conservation organizations counted nowhere near the members, funds or public support they do now. Even so, the threat was enough to stop the bill until the two Dinosaur dams were deleted. It was also enough to win protective language for Rainbow Bridge National Monument, on a Glen Canyon tributary, though Lake Powell now laps at the base of this greatest of all natural bridges. But the Upper Colorado River Storage Project, finally approved by Congress in 1956, consigned the magnificence of Glen Canyon to a watery death.

With hindsight, it must seem an unequal compromise that sacrificed Glen Canyon. I consider the loss of Glen Canyon tragic. But I am certain that had Dinosaur been invaded, the precedent would have been enough to make possible the building of dams then on the drawing boards in at least eight national park system areas, including Grand Canyon. As it turned out, the loss of Glen Canyon became a rallying point a few years later when the dam builders actually reached for Grand Canyon. So far, dam proponents have been unable to overcome the worldwide opposition to their scheme. (But old dam proposals don’t die. They don’t even fade away like old soldiers, but stick around to resurface when it is believed that the opposition has relaxed its vigilance.)

Coyote Gulch and the upper Escalante tributaries are important because they constitute the last major remnant of the Glen Canyon system that still has the wild remoteness so essential to the feeling of wilderness. Escalante Canyon, carved into the same sandstone formation of the Jurassic Period as Glen Canyon, has many of the same qualities; the water-sculptured rock, the high, sheer walls decorated with paintbrush-like strokes of blue-black desert varnish; alcoves, stream meanders, natural bridges and arches, and the beautiful riparian plant growth that at once harmonizes and contrasts with the bare stone. Perhaps most impressive of all its qualities is the water—the small streams, springs and seeps so characteristic of the water-bearing Navajo sandstone. In another, wetter country these might be insignificant. But in this arid land of stone and sand, one has only to climb to the rim and walk beyond the reach of these trickles in the desert to appreciate their miraculous quality.

As they were in the original main artery, Glen Canyon, the Escalante’s scenic climaxes are at or close to the stream junctions. Many of the tributaries form incised meanders, a circumstance that gives rise to a whole series of wonders: fluting of the walls, close-linked bends some-times in cliffs hundreds of feet sheer, grottoes, great overhangs, alcoves. Where the meanders leave long, narrow peninsulas of rock, these may be cut through by later stream erosion to form natural bridges, or left above the stream long enough for other forms of erosion to take out the rock at the base, leaving arches.

As the Escalante River winds down and out of the high plateau, flowing in a generally southeasterly direction toward the Colorado, it cuts through an undulating stone basin bound on the southwest by the straight cliffs of the Kaiparowits Plateau and on the northeast by the Henry Mountains. The Escalante and the Henry Mountains were named by John Wesley Powell in 1868—the last named major river and mountain range in the coterminous United States.

The water of Lake Powell, laboriously rising for the last 17 years, has at last claimed many of the most beautiful tributaries of the Escalante—all of those below Coyote Gulch. Now it washes into Coyote, one of the grandest scenic climaxes of the Escalante basin. Was the ruining of the mouth of Coyote Gulch necessary?

Continued in the blog post, “Glen Canyon Lament By Philip Hyde 3.”

To read more about and view Philip Hyde’s landscape photography of Glen Canyon see the blog post, “Glen Canyon Portfolio.”

The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism 6

September 23rd, 2010

Ansel Adams Advises Philip Hyde On His Struggles While Action Is On Hold To Keep Dams Out Of National Parks

(Continued from previous blog post in the category, “Excerpts of New Book” blog post titled, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism 5.”)

Split Mountain Sandstone Reefs, Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado-Utah, 1951 by Philip Hyde.

In 1951, the Sierra Club and Wilderness Society sent my father landscape photographer Philip Hyde on the world’s first conservation photography assignment. Ansel Adams and Cedric Wright contributed photographs to campaigns in the 1940s, but Philip Hyde was the first ever sent on assignment. As a result of Philip Hyde’s trip to Dinosaur National Monument in Northwestern Colorado and Utah, he and Martin Litton became photographers for the first book published for a conservation cause: “This Is Dinosaur: Echo Park Country” edited by Wallace Stegner.

Philip Hyde went to Dinosaur National Monument in 1951, but “This Is Dinosaur: Echo Park Country” did not come out until four years later while the Sierra Club worked on other projects. During those years finances were bleak for Ardis and Philip Hyde even though Sierra Club, Wilderness Society and other conservation leaders had seen Philip Hyde’s photographs of Dinosaur National Monument in 1951. “Ansel praised my work to them to the point of embarrassment,” Philip Hyde said. “But nobody was ready to fund a project to use the photographs to protect the National Monument and thereby the whole National Park System.”

In 1951 Philip Hyde’s photographs not only circulated among environmental leaders, they toured national museums and libraries. Earlier that year Martin Litton began writing articles against the Upper Colorado River Storage project in the Los Angeles Times. “The people of Los Angeles opposed the Upper Colorado River Storage Project because it would take water away from California and give it to Arizona, Utah and Colorado,” Martin Litton explained. Martin Litton wrote extensively about the damage to the Colorado River ecosystem that would be wrought by the dams and of the unique beauty of Dinosaur National Monument’s canyons.

The Sierra Club Debates Whether To Go National

Sierra Club leaders also watched David Brower’s rough movie footage from Yampa River and Green River trips in Dinosaur National Monument. The prospect of protecting Dinosaur set off the Sierra Club’s first major internal conflict. Would the Sierra Club reach beyond the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California? As the leaders and members began to take notice of Dinosaur’s unique beauty, debate ran hot in board meetings between those that favored a local California focus and those that favored a national focus necessary to prevent dams on the Colorado River and its tributaries. Preserving Dinosaur National Monument finally became the Sierra Club’s highest priority in 1953.

By 1953 the Hydes had survived two bleak years and were ready to move back to San Francisco or to Monterey. Philip Hyde’s personal journals exhibit misgivings, self-doubt but also faith that somehow they would make it. God or Nature would provide.

Ansel Adams On Isolation And Making A Living

In correspondence Ansel Adams told Philip Hyde that he would have a difficult time making a living defending wilderness. Here is a small part of Ansel Adams’ letter*** to Philip Hyde on May 4th, 1952:

The whole matter does not relate to Nature – it relates to you, and to the ways and means by which you can do what you want to do and at the same time, make a living. The latter is unfortunately important…

Let us look logically at your problem. We all have a great admiration and respect for you and your ideals. Your photography is very fine indeed. the jury for the Bender Awards was much impressed by your submissions… You have a deep and sincere interest in the Natural Scene… I think the basic motive is identification with principles which you honestly believe are imperative to the security of civilization.

However – to get back to the pressing problem which we have all been concerned – you must recognize the need to exist in the world and truly function. This you cannot do in isolation, or by condensing your life into a narrow pipeline of dogma. But to really know nature you must know humanity, because nature does not exist without humanity. You will never know Nature if you “escape” and bring yourself to Nature as a separate entity with separate and personal problems to solve.

I think that you are making a great mistake to isolate yourself; you really should be right in the middle of humanity – bringing them the messages of nature which are of real value.

With Regret Ardis And Philip Hyde Leave The Mountains

In response, Ardis and Philip Hyde bought a city lot in Carmel and moved there planning to build and leave the mountains behind. Philip Hyde’s log entry for August 20, 1952:

On the eve of our move to Carmel on August 27—Though I recognize the rightness of the change and acknowledge that it came as an unfolding of progress for us, still something of me will remain in these mountains to attend the rites of the seasons: to watch the first magically gentle falling of snow, savor the turning of leaves and burst with enthusiasm as nature bursts with Spring’s new life. No collection of cities can ever offer the opportunity of being with nature as these mountains have. The tinkling of coins in the marketplace will never still the memory of a meadowlark singing across the February snow, or the sounds of the pines when Fall shouts her warnings of winter. We are not retreating from the mountains, only going where we can find more people to sing to of them. And we shall still have our pilgrimages to renew our songs.

The Sierra Club worked on other projects and put Dinosaur on hold. The Hydes could not qualify for a home construction loan on their property in  Carmel because in those days banks did not count the wife’s income of a young couple because she might become pregnant and lose her job. Philip Hyde contracted a bad case of poison oak trying to remove the vines from the lot in Carmel. “Everything seemed to go wrong in Carmel,” Philip Hyde said.

Hyde Fortunes Improve In French Morocco, North Africa

Meanwhile, Ardis Hyde’s father, my grandfather Clint King, was a Project Manager and Design Engineer for Engineering Conglomerate P.U.S.O.M. that built and designed many of the “Cold War” bases in French Morocco, North Africa. Clint and Elsie King, my grandparents, were doing well and enjoying Morocco and they thought Ardis and Philip Hyde would love it too. Grandpa could get his son-in-law a draftsman job at the base near Casablanca. Having few other options to make a good living, Philip Hyde took the job as a draftsman and Ardis Hyde worked in the PUSOM office on the base. “They took the wings of the morning,” and went to live in the distant land of Morocco.

The Hydes got caught up financially and explored Morocco in their off time. Stay tuned for a future series of blog posts on life in Morocco. After a year in Morocco, by June 1954 back in the U.S. the battle over dams in Dinosaur National Monument finally began to heat up. The Sierra Club designed “This Is Dinosaur: Echo Park Country and Its Magic Rivers” and made plans to use Philip Hyde’s 1951 photographs with a series of essays to be edited by the acclaimed novelist Wallace Stegner. David Brower became Executive Director of the Sierra Club in 1952 and in 1953 sent letters to Morocco asking Philip Hyde to go back to Dinosaur for more photographs.

***Excerpts of Ansel Adams’ letters used by permission of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust.

(CONTINUED THE BLOG POST, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism 7.”)

The Oregon Cascades’ Impact On Conservation

June 14th, 2010

The National Implications of Land Wars Over the Oregon Cascade Mountain Forests

Ardis Hyde On Horseback With Packer Tom McAllister From Portland At Waldo Lake, Oregon Cascades, Oregon, 1969 by Philip Hyde.

Heated land use debates in the 1950s and 1960s concerning the forests of the Cascade Mountains in the Northwestern United States, helped define the future of wilderness protection nationwide. While the battle over the dams in Dinosaur National Monument took the national stage sooner, launched the modern environmental movement and set a precedent that would keep industrialists out of the National Park System; the land battles over the lush forests in the Northwestern U.S. began around the same time and cannot be underestimated in their national impact.

Decisions in Oregon and Washington State affected forest management policy in the National Forest System more than the National Park System. Nonetheless, the resulting conflicts and their outcomes played a significant role in the eventual forging of the Wilderness Act in Congress and provided a blueprint for grassroots environmental campaigns all over the country, particularly in the West where wilderness came under the greatest threat of desecration by resource exploitation.

The main purpose of the post-World War II Forest Service was to supply timber. The policy of multiple use often translated into allowing various uses of public lands, as long as they could co-exist with logging. Lumber companies kept pressure on the Forest Service to provide a guaranteed supply of logs. “An era of stewardship of the nation’s public forests gave way to an emphasis on rapid extraction of timber resources,” wrote Kevin R. Marsh in Drawing Lines in the Forest: Creating Wilderness Areas in the Pacific Northwest. “This spawned a grassroots movement that ultimately challenged the managerial power of the Forest Service.” It was 10 years in the making, but the Wilderness Act of 1964 finally opened the process to citizen participation, giving the public a say in the drawing of wilderness boundaries. Before 1964, small citizen groups had less power, but after 1964, the two opposing forces of industry and conservation shaped the Wilderness System.

Cascades Wilderness Battles Helped Conservationists Tune Their Message To Become The Wilderness Act

In the Cascade Mountain Range, a string of volcanic peaks and up thrust rocky crags extending from Northern California through Oregon and Washington and into Canada, many groups played a role—the U. S. Forest Service, the timber industry, recreationists and environmentalists. The opposing forces consisted of timber interests and the Forest Service on one side and local groups such as the Obsidians and Chemeketans on the other side, often supported by national environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, National Audubon Society and the Wilderness Society. When enough national outcry supported the protection of an area, Congressional Law made it official but not without a tremendous fight and wrangling in and out of Congress right up to the final signing as in the case of North Cascades National Park or Olympic National Park. Needless to say, merely obtaining wilderness status for many areas engendered a terrific political and often legal war.

Originally in 1893, President Grover Cleveland established the Cascade Forest Reserve encompassing nearly 5 million acres, from Mt. Hood in Northern Oregon to Crater Lake in Southern Oregon, to limit the cutting of mountain forests and to protect watersheds. Aldo Leopold, author of A Sand County Almanac, a pro-wilderness polemic, set a national example as his worked within the Southwest agency of the Forest Service to found the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico in 1924. Forest Service leaders such as Arthur Carhart in Colorado and Elers Koch in Idaho thwarted the inroads of “progress” into wilderness and fostered the agency atmosphere in line with Gifford Pinchot’s vision from years earlier. These new leaders in the 1920s reformed management practices and created Primitive Areas in the National Forests, which limited but did not end industrial use. “The Forest Service would later argue that these boundaries were not meant to be permanent,” wrote Kevin R. Marsh.

Lumbering slowed significantly during the Great Depression, but took off again during and after the War. In the Willamette National Forest, the volume of logs cut more than quadrupled between 1945 and 1955 and continued to increase for decades. The Forest Service began to reclassify many primitive areas without any input from the locals. Frequented by hikers, fishers and small boaters, Mt. Jefferson Primitive Area had some of the highest recreation levels of any wilderness in the Northwest, second in Oregon only to the Three Sisters Wilderness to the south. The Three Sisters Wilderness lies directly east of Eugene Oregon, a progressive college town that participated fully in the 1960s anti-establishment, anti-war “revolution.”

Conservation Strategy From The Cascade Mountains Became A Blueprint For Local Efforts Nationwide

In 1954, when the Forest Service proposed reclassifying the Three Sisters Primitive Area, a widely divergent range of local hiking clubs, conservationists, scientists and social liberals, began to evolve over the next few decades into a powerful grassroots movement in Oregon and across the nation. Since 1951, when the Forest Service had tried to pass off shrinking the primitive area as beneficial to the local economy, Carl Onthank and his wife Ruth Onthank, Ruth Hopson and other local activists rallied supporters to form the Friends of the Three Sisters Wilderness. Karl Onthank, dean of students at the University of Oregon, described the leaders of the new group as “scientists who know something of our Cascade Mountains and are interested in seeing a little of them preserved for future enjoyment in their natural state and for scientific study.”

Friends of Three Sisters became an example for later site-specific grassroots campaigns. At a 1955 Forest Service hearing, local groups from all over Oregon such as The Mazamas, the Obsidians, chapters of the Sierra Club, National Audubon Society groups, Wilderness Society leaders, the Oregon Federation of Garden Clubs, the Mountaineers, Olympic Park Associates, the Izaak Walton League Eugene Chapter, the AFL and CIO unions and many others rallied against reducing the Three Sisters Wilderness. The Forest Service expected a one day hearing but had to carry it into a second days when a total of 79 speakers wanted their turn. Some voiced concern for retaining recreational space, some for not allowing wilderness to be reduced over and over as in other states, some wanted to protect areas for scientific study, and others thought logging interests could make more efficient use of the existing public and private timber lands.

On the second day of hearings, Howard Zahniser, executive director of the Wilderness Society arrived and testified with hints of the language from the Wilderness Act that would not pass Congress until 1964, but that he had already begun to draft in 1955. The Three Sisters campaign was pivotal to the national cause of wilderness preservation as it would set a precedent for whether people had a say when Federal lands were reduced to benefit private industry. David Brower, Executive Director of the Sierra Club corresponded with Karl Onthank to stay informed of developments. David Brower and other Sierra Club leaders contributed to the campaign by writing letters to the media and leaders in Washington DC, just as Ruth and Karl Onthank and their associates were doing.

Disperate Conservation Campaigns Organized Into The Modern Environmental Movement

Nationally the tide was high for conservation as the wilderness ideals of John Muir and Henry David Thoreau were hitched to a new environmental movement that employed the media, Congressional lobbying, letter writing campaigns, the courts, full-page newspaper ads and grass root organizing. At first it the purpose was wilderness protection, but later environmental campaigns strived to limit water and air pollution and other environmental destruction brought on by land development, growth and a booming industrial age.

In 1955, The Sierra Club published This is Dinosaur: Echo Park Country and Its Magic Rivers, edited by Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Wallace Stegner with photographs by Philip Hyde, Martin Litton and others. A copy of This is Dinosaur landed on the desk of every Congressman just as they were deciding how to vote on the Colorado River Storage Project Bill. David Brower testified in Congressional hearings against the dams and the Sierra Club ran full page newspaper ads warning Congress not to endorse a hotly opposed expensive project in an election year. The new brand of environmentalism worked. The bill passed Congress without the Dinosaur Dams and with a phrase added barring dams in national parks or monuments.

Following this national land conservation victory, Three Sisters activists communicated their position with a growing effectiveness that surprised the Forest Service, but as the struggle went on, the Forest Service defined the debate and wilderness advocates had to stay on the defensive. By 1957, the Friends of Three Sisters had lost the battle and the Forest Service went through with their original planned boundaries. The loss confirmed the fears of wilderness proponents across the country but solidified determination to push for a Wilderness Act to prevent “having this kind of battle on every one of the primitive and the limited areas,” said Karl Onthank. Oregon senators responded by sponsoring the Wilderness Act and helping Howard Zahniser and others draft it. The Forest Service decision on the Three Sisters Wilderness, swung support toward the Wilderness Act but years of conflict over it were yet to come.

Future Blog Posts share the story of the making of North Cascades National Park. For parts of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area skirmish, see the blog post “Oregon Cascades Conservation: Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area,” which touches on the interrelated role of Philip Hyde’s landscape photography. For a closer view of Ardis and Philip Hyde in action see the blog post, “North Cascades And Mt. Jefferson Travel Log.”