Birth of Public Lands – John Clayton


The River Bend Restaurant
13068 MT-37, Libby, MT 59923




May 15 2024


6:30 pm - 7:30 pm



Birth of Public Lands – John Clayton

Many people think of public lands as an American birthright. But not literally: the country didn’t have meaningful public lands in the early 1800s. Somehow this idea got invented. How? The founding of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 is part of the answer—but what about the national forests, national monuments, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands that form the heart of today’s public-land controversies? What’s their origin story?

John Clayton, author of Natural Rivals: John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and the Creation of America’s Public Lands, shows how the forces of conservation and preservation, Progressivism and anti-monopolism, science and spiritualism, East and West, united in the 1890s behind the idea that a democratically-elected government should permanently own and manage land. Clayton tells stories of heroes both well-known (naturalist John Muir, President Theodore Roosevelt) and quirky (botanist Charles Sargent, Congressman William Holman). Audiences gain an understanding of the societal problems that public lands were designed to conquer. And in discussions of the 1890s’ mass extinctions, income inequality, public skepticism about science, and dysfunctional Congress, they may gain historical perspective on today’s challenges as well.

The event is finished.