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Maine Historical Society



On-Demand Programs

This Land Was Saved for You and Me, a book talk
How Gifford Pinchot, Frederick Law Olmsted, and a Band of Foresters Rescued America's Public Lands

Recorded on September 27, 2022

The story of how America’s public lands—our city parks, national forests, and wilderness areas— can be traced to a few conservation pioneers and proteges who shaped policy and advocated for open spaces. Some, like Frederick Law Olmsted and Gifford Pinchot, are well known, while others have never been given their due.

In his latest book, Jeffrey Ryan covers the nearly century-long period between 1865 (when Olmsted contributed to the creation of Yosemite as a park and created its management plan) to the signing of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Olmsted influenced Pinchot, who became the first head of the National Forest Service. In turn, Pinchot hired the foresters who became the founders of The Wilderness Society and creators of the Wilderness Act itself. Learn more about this story and the historic cast of characters, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Bob Marshall, Benton MacKaye, Aldo Leopold, and Howard Zahniser. Learn the context for their decisions and the political and economic factors that contributed to the triumphs and pitfalls in the quest to protect public lands.

Purchase the book from our museum store.