Willa Cather's Ecological Imagination

By Susan J. Rosowski | Go to book overview

My Ántonia and the
National Parks Movement

JOSEPH URGO

In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt issued proclamations establishing Muir Woods National Monument (California); Grand Canyon National Monument (Arizona); Pinnacles National Monument (California); Jewel Cave National Monument (South Dakota); Lewis and Clark Cavern National Monument (Montana); and Wheeler National Monument (Colorado). Also, in 1908, Jim Burden had a reunion with Tiny Soderball in Salt Lake City. We don't know whether they went to Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah, but it too was proclaimed a national monument in 1908. In 1909 Congress passed An Act to Create the Calaveras Bigtree National Forest, authorizing the acquisition of lands in California to protect stands of Sequoia washingtoniana. Early that same year President Roosevelt issued a proclamation establishing Mount Olympus National Monument (Washington), and later in 1909 President Taft issued proclamations establishing Oregon Caves National Monument, Mukuntuweap National Monument (Utah), and Shoshone Cavern National Monument (Wyoming). In 1909, conservationists appointed by Roosevelt found their momentum checked by conflicts with Congress and Taft appointees. As a result, conservation became the subject of national debate, pitting the utilitarians, those who wanted to reserve land for subsequent, profitable use, against the preservationists, who were more anxious to preserve natural resources for aesthetic, recreational, and spiritual reasons. 1

The rate of park and monument creation slowed but did not

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