Muir, Pinchot, and American Conservation

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences


English Department

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Tara Penry


This research focuses on identifying the qualities of the early American conservation movement in the late 19th century. In particular, I am interested in understanding the philosophical differences between Gifford Pinchot’s conservationist ideology and John Muir’s preservationist ideology. My research will explore the differences in these approaches to natural resource management, identify the impacts of both of these views on policy of the era, and trace the legacy of both men in the modern conservation movement. My methodology includes analyzing primary documents written by Pinchot and Muir in response to each other’s positions to establish an understanding of their conflicting ideas. I will also consult scholarship on the conservation policy decisions made in the 19th century. Finally, I plan to consult scholarship on the modern conservation movement to draw parallels between factions today and the initial disagreements between Muir and Pinchot.

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