LAST MONTH I was asked to look
over a manuscript for a book on forests which was to be sold
to schools. It took about two minutes to see it for what it was
-- the forest industry's conception of a forest and how it should
be cut. It was an out and out special interest message, and it
was no surprise to learn that lead work in its preparation had
been done by a public-relations man for the forest products people.
pages of comments I appended to the manuscript must have horrified
the publisher, but he took it in good spirits, and promised to
try to incorporate some of it. He even asked if I would like
to do a children's book on forests!
Is it a children
book on forests that is needed, or on a more general conservation
subject? Is the market -- the teacher's library at home and in
the classroom -- sated with "wise-use " conservation
and devoid of the voice of ecological conscience -- the small
thin voice stressing that we have other obligations than to use
up our resources and turn our environment upside down?
is all the emphasis on the use side of conservation, and
not on the side of saving? Are we still where we were more than
a half a century ago, when the Conservation movement got its
At the White
House Conference for Governors called by President Theodore Roosevelt
in 1908, Conservation became a political force. What inspired
the Conference is beside the point -- except that T.R.'s short
camping trip in Yosemite
with John Muir
may have had some influence. Muir was then in his eleventh year
as president of the Sierra Club, which he had founded in 1892
to enlist public support in protesting the forest and other scenic
features of the Sierra Nevada and mountain regions of the west.