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Conservation, Aesthetic versus Utilitarian

Conflicts over use of conservation lands and national parks have involved development, recreation, logging, plant diversity, and wildlife habitat. The photo shows a large resort development built within sight of the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama in 2009.
Photo credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

John Muir (1838–1914) and Gifford Pinchot (1865–1946) mark two significant points on the complex map of conservation and environmental ethics. While both men shared the common goal of natural resource conservation, their approaches represent polar opposites with different ethical foundations.

The Scottish-born Muir developed an aesthetic view of nature. After traveling across the country, he ended up on the West Coast. An engineer, naturalist, and writer, he was idealistic, an advocate of preserving wilderness for the sake of wilderness to leave ...

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