America's Greatest Conservationist Dies

Edgar Wayburn, five-time Sierra Club president and biggest protector of American wilderness, dies at 103

American wilderness lost a friend and tireless champion on Friday: Dr. Edgar Wayburn, a five-time Sierra Club president and physician, died at his San Francisco home at the age of 103. While not as famous as some Sierra Club compatriots like David Brower, he's credited with potecting more wilderness and parkland than any other U.S. citizen.

Wayburn was instrumental in passing legislation to protect Point Reyes National Seashore, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Redwoods National Park. His crowning achievement, however, came when he finally convinced President Carter to pass the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980. The legislation created 10 new national parks in Alaska and doubled the U.S.'s official parklands. 

President Clinton awarded Wayburn the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 199, noting that wayburn "helped to preserve the most breathtaking examples of the American landscape."

While active as both a doctor and a medical teacher, he often used his vacation for scouting trips of wilderness areas in the U.S. He and his wife Peggy, another active conservationist, made maps of potential wildernesses in places like the Wind Rivers, the Sawtooths, and his backyard hills in Marin County.

"I have loved medicine and conservation. In one sense, my involvement with both might be summed up in a single word: survival. Medicine is concerned with the short-term survival of the human species, conservation with the long-term survival of the human and other species as well. We are all related."

Hear-hear, Edgar. Thanks for everything, and rest in peace.

—Ted Alvarez

via WashPo

Image Credit: Sierra Club