There’s more to Muir than just plain tree-hugging |

There’s more to Muir than just plain tree-hugging

I read with great interest the exchange concerning remarks made by John Muir. Muir’s statement was, basically, that people should take advantage of what nature has to offer. A writer took exception to the quote, declaring it out of “historical context” because of the difference in population then and now. I do not see the value of the comparison.

A much better insight, I think, is the knowledge that Muir, during his youth, cleared forests for farmland and otherwise subdued nature in backwoods Wisconsin. He also worked at a sawmill, broom and rake factory in Meaford, Ontario, Canada in 1864-1866. When he arrived in Yosemite in 1868, he did not just admire the beauty, but actually ran a sawmill near the foot of Yosemite Falls. He was an inventor and machinist throughout much of his life. You see, people do have to make a living.

As to the statement that only 15 percent of California’s native forests remain, (presumably due to logging), what is a “native forest”? How long do trees live naturally? While this may be accurate for long-lived redwoods, what about trees that naturally die at 70-100 years? Do we blame the loggers for all tree deaths? According to the 2001 World Almanac, more than 37 percent of California is forest. We have more trees now than 25 years ago. How much is enough?

John Muir was a great American, and his legacy will and should live on. However, the legacy should be untarnished by neo-environmental activism that is both divisive and myopic. People must remain more important than plants and animals, because only we can conscientiously help all.

Joe Thompson

Grass Valley

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