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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Earth Day's Inspiration in Wisconsin

Today is Earth Day, a celebration of our place in nature that owes its origin in large part to Wisconsin thinkers. Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson was the prime mover behind legislation recognizing Earth Day, and in the previous decade had created a number of innovative environmental programs as governor of Wisconsin. A generation earlier, UW professor Aldo Leopold had provided the theoretical framework for the environmental movement in a series of academic and popular books. See more about their careers and read memoirs and documents about them at the "Environmental Movement" page in Turning Points in Wisconsin History.

The roots of Earth Day, however, go all the way back to the mid-19th c. childhood of John Muir in Marquette County. More than anyone else, Muir established a love of nature in American hearts, and his work led directly to conservation laws, the national parks system, wildlife refuges, and the Sierra Club. We've just put a collection of his manuscript letters to his oldest Wisconsin friends online. You'll find them, as well as the online texts of all his books and much more (including some early Wisconsin environmental documents you didn't know about), on the Conservation Movement page in Turning Points in Wisconsin History.

:: Posted in Curiosities on April 22, 2005
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