Posted by: atowhee | August 20, 2019


New biography of man who was leading American conservationist more than a century ago.
George Bird Grinnell was a magazine editor and conservationist. He also wrote books describing Native American culture in the western U.S. In 1892 he wrote, “The story of our government’sintgercourse with this race is an unbroken narrative of injustice, fraud and robbery.”

Sounds like the beginning of an argument for reparations.

In 1857 the moderately wealthy Grinnells moved to “Audubon Park,” the former estate of artist-naturalist John James Audubon on still-rural upper Manhattan. There the young George met and was taught by Audubon’s widow, Lucy Bakewell.  That encouraged his affinity for nature.

He had a Ph.D. in biology from Yale University and was vocal and active on behalf of land and animal conservation at a time that was generally opposed in the U.S. He helped start the first national Audubon Society in the 1880s, but it collapsed. When it later was reborn Grinnell served on the national board of directors.  He also helped promote the idea of preserving wild lands in national parks. He worked on wildlife books with Theodore Roosevelt.   Grinnell was also part of the Harriman Expedition to Alaska in 1899.  Also part of that expedition were  most of the leading experts and writers in natural history: John Muir, Louis Fuertes, William Dall, William Brewer, Charles Keeler, C. Hart Merriam, Edward Curtis, John Burroughs.  It is unlikely another previous or subsequent expedition ever collected as many informed and inquisitive minds in one place.  It led to a series of publications, fourteen volumes in all (1901–1910): The Harriman Alaska Series. New York: Doubleday, Page & Company.

The Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park is named for him.

There is still time to sign up for a week of birding in Harney County, sponsored by the Malheur Field Station.  I will be the guide.  Click here for details.

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