Discussion Questions

1. In what ways might George Perkins Marsh be seen as an early ecologist? What are the implications of Marsh's characterization of nature as a female? To what extent and by what means, in Marsh's opinion, is human destruction of nature reversible?

2. How does John Wesley Powell characterize the lands of the arid west? According to Powell, how should these lands be developed? Would Powell's plan, if put into practice, have been ecologically sustainable?

3. Compare the conservation politics of George Perkins Marsh, John Wesley Powell, and George L. Knapp.  Which views are in accord with your own political philosophy? Why?

4. The administration under Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot associated conservation with the utilitarian idea of "the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time." What inherent difficulties arise when attempting to implement a resource management policy based upon this concept? What might such a practice mean for minorities?

5. Should forests be under private ownership or should all forests be in the public domain as argued by Bob Marshall in The People's Forests?  Would his approach lead to sustainable use of the forests?

6. What is the role of government regulation in resource conservation? How do the concerns of conservationists in the early twentieth century differ from those of the 1930s and from those of environmentalists of the 1960s?  How do you account for the changes?

7. What gender issues are apparent in the conservation movement? What roles were played by men and women in the movement?