Our national park and land conservation movement is something Americans can all be proud of. Yosemite National Park is one of the crown jewels of this effort, and it appeals to conservationists, environmentalists, naturalists, scientists, backpackers, hikers, climbers, travelers, and photographers on a national and international level. Yosemite National Park alone hosts 4 million visitors per year from around the world.
While the concept of national parks now seems a given, 150 ago it was not a foregone conclusion that a nation’s most special landscapes would be saved. Seed of the Future: Yosemite and the Evolution of the National Park Idea ($27.00) honors the 150th Act, a bill signed by Abraham Lincoln that is the first instance of scenic, wilderness lands being preserved specifically for public use, resort, and recreation by action of the U.S. federal government. Dayton Duncan's compelling narrative, lavishly illustrated with more than one hundred archival images and full-color landscape photographs, is sure to inspire future generations to do their part for Yosemite and all protected areas. Through the efforts of visionaries such James Mason Hutchings, Galen Clark, Frederick Law Olmsted, John Muir, and Theodore Roosevelt, among others, the world learned of Yosemite, flocked to it, nearly destroyed it, and finally saved it. These fascinating characters and their enduring stories are skillfully woven together in this lively portrayal of the beginnings of the preservation movement. The idea of preserving special places grew into the national park idea, and it started on its course from a seed, a seed planted in Yosemite in 1864.
Dayton Duncan is an award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker. He has served on the boards of the National Park Foundation, the Student Conservation Association, and the Conservation Lands Foundation, and was appointed by President Clinton as chair of the American Heritage Rivers Advisory Committee. For more than twenty years he has been making documentaries for PBS with Ken Burns, including "The National Parks: America’s Best Idea," for which he won two Emmy awards as writer and producer, and was named honorary park ranger by the director of the National Park Service.
It's now a given that Americansand people the world overwould seek to preserve their sacred, special places. One hundred fifty years ago, however, it was definitely not a foregone conclusion that the awe-inspiring granite cliffs, astounding waterfalls, and sublime sequoias of Yosemite would be protected.