Posted by: greeningwashington | April 1, 2009

Western Land Bill

John Muir and President Teddy Roosevelt in the Sierra Nevada

John Muir and President Teddy Roosevelt in the Sierra Nevada

In the spirit of conservationism, President Obama signed into law on Monday the lands bill that will create more than 2 million acres of national wilderness.

While this action was highly anticipated, the bill’s inception into law is the largest expansion of public lands in 15 years.

In his remarks prior to signing the bill President Obama quoted one of the most active conservationist president’s of the 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt:

What these gifts require in return is our wise and responsible stewardship. As our greatest conservationist President, Teddy Roosevelt, put it almost a century ago, “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.”


Perhaps one of the greatest conservationists of all time, founder of the Sierra Club, and friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir laid the foundation for preservationists and conservationists alike.

Muir was an adventurer, a writer, and a wilderness recluse. He spent years away from society exploring the raw wilderness of Alaska and other western states. Muir viewed nature as a place to escape the realities of modernizing society. His spiritual connection with nature was deep  — deeper than any vacationer’s  or tourist’s. Muir believed in immersing one’s mind and soul in nature in the search for one’s true self and sanctity. Muir was often alone in his adventures across North America — the solitude became routine and even welcomed.

“Most people are on the world, not in it — have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them — undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.”

In other news, true to his promise to promote environmental action, President Obama will sign into law, sometime later this month, a bill that will substantially expand the number of national community service programs. The bill will increase the number of national volunteer openings from 25,000 to 75,000 according to initial reports from the New York Times. Programs benefiting from this increase include the AmeriCorps, which is a national service organization focused on helping local communities fight health, education, and environmental problems.

The bill, named after Senator Edward Kennedy, will designate September 11 as a national day of service.

This post is dedicated to John Muir and his love of the sublime and the solitary.

Until next time.


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