The 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. It emerged through a famous rivalry: between the naturalist John Muir and the forester Gifford Pinchot. In a time of mass extinctions, income inequality, public skepticism about science, and dysfunctional Congress, their story offered hope.

Clayton is a Montana-based freelancer whose books include The Cowboy Girl, Stories of Montana’s Enduring Frontier, and most recently, Wonderlandscape, a cultural history of Yellowstone National Park.

Cost: FREE


This event is over.

Thu. Sep. 12, 2019   6:30pm

Bozeman Public Library
626 East Main Street
Bozeman, MT 59715
(406) 570-7752