Challenge of the Big Trees
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MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY ago, in 1933, I accepted a position with the National Park Service in the agency's Region IV, San Francisco office. This was at the height of the Great Depression, and I was very glad to be able to put my newly acquired Master's Degree in Landscape Architecture to work. Soon I was at work in the woods designing and overseeing construction of the Generals Highway, the roadway the National Park Service and the Bureau of Public Roads were constructing to connect Sequoia and General Grant national parks. A few years later I returned to the Sequoia/Kings Canyon region to explore the Kings Canyon back-country on horseback to see if the area met the Service's criteria for inclusion within the national park system. For these reasons Challenge of the Big Trees is for me a very personal and exciting opportunity to renew old memories.

Now, as Sequoia National Park celebrates its centennial and Kings Canyon National Park achieves its golden anniversary, I am struck by how much the Sierra has changed since I first went to work in the region. The highway I helped to design now allows nearly a million visitors a year to see the beauties of the southern Sierra, and the Kings Canyon region I studied is now the heart of one of America's greatest wildernesses.

Challenge of the Big Trees tells of the changes I have seen and more. It is a story of how the dedication and sustained effort of a small group of interested citizens awakened the consciousness of the American people and their government. As a result, the Sierra's giant sequoias and wonderful high country were saved from selfish destruction. In my lifetime of park work I have witnessed many similar stories; people do make a difference.

The story of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks is also a fascinating bit of history. The authors detail not only how the parks came to exist, but also how the parks were repeatedly threatened with over-development, and how they were fortunate enough to ward off those threats. Again the critical efforts of a few key persons made all the difference. All too often national park histories tend to end with the creation of the parks. Challenge of the Big Trees avoids this weakness and explores in substantial detail the critical actions that made the two parks what they are today.

As we face the environmental challenges of the future it is wise to review the challenges of the past and the lessons they provide. Much can be learned from reading this book; I commend it to you.



Challenge of the Big Trees
©1990, Sequoia Natural History Association
dilsaver-tweed/foreword.htm — 12-Jul-2004