Seeking the Greatest Good
The Conservation Legacy of Gifford Pinchot
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Sitting at a well-used desk in one of the offices located on the third floor of Grey Towers National Historical Site and overhearing visitors as they strolled around the flower-filled grounds, commented on the lovingly re-stored bluestone mansion, or pointed out landmarks set within the site’s commanding views east across the Delaware River valley, I knew just how ...
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On a warm Friday morning in late June 2012, a party of volunteers— mostly board members of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation and staffers from Grey Towers National Historic Site—put blade to ground on the Jorritsma family’s century-old dairy farm in Sussex County, New Jersey. Within minutes, they had dug a series of deep, round holes along the west-ern bank of the Paulins Kill. As they planted willows and silky dogwood ...
A Living Memorial
1. This Old House
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They came on a pilgrimage. In September 1961 the Gifford Pinchot Chapter of the Society of American Foresters held its annual meeting in Milford, Pennsylvania. It was the hometown of the group’s namesake, who had established the national society to which they belonged, had been the founding chief of the U.S. Forest Service, and later served two terms as governor of Pennsylvania. Most of all they came to commemorate Gifford ...
2. September 24, 1963
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JFK dropped out of the sky. Ferried from the Stewart Air Force Base in Newburgh, New York, on Marine One, the presidential helicopter, he put down at a makeshift landing pad at Grey Towers. The president’s stay was brief; one reporter timed his visit from touchdown to take off at exactly seventy minutes. Yet in that short period he toured the Pinchot family’s an-cestral home, pressed the flesh up and down the rope line, paid his respects ...
3. Home Grounds
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Gazing out over the boisterous crowd of family, friends, and luminaries, Gifford Bryce Pinchot was reminded of similar gatherings that had occurred whenever one of his parents hit the campaign trail, which was often: “This seems to me to be a continuation of the wonderful days when my father and mother lived here, and I can only think how much they would have enjoyed being here to welcome you themselves.” Grateful that ...
4. The Inseparable World
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Samuel H. Ordway Jr. was in a philosophical mood. As president of the Conservation Foundation, and thus a partner with the U.S. Forest Service in what he and his collaborators considered a “unique coopera-tive educational venture,” Ordway used his speech at the 1963 dedication ceremonies of the Pinchot Institute to reflect on the present state of the He found it wanting because his fellow citizens had not thought hard ...
5. Under Fire
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Orville L. Freeman, the secretary of agriculture, flew on Air Force One with President John F. Kennedy, heading north from Andrews Air Force Base to Stewart Air Force Base in New York, from which they would then take a chopper to Milford. Despite the significance of the forthcoming celebration at Grey Towers, the secretary wasn’t nervous because of his proximity to the charismatic president. The pair had developed a strong ...
6. Greening the Presidency
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President Kennedy came to Milford to make a bit of mischief. That was Benjamin Bradlee’s later memory of the presidential trip to Grey Tow-ers. Then a Newsweek correspondent covering the White House, as well as a presidential confidant—the Kennedys and Bradlees had lived next door to one another in Georgetown before the Massachusetts senator claimed the White House in November 1960—Bradlee’s version of events was a tale of ...
7. Conservation Education
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The four-fold blessings bestowed on Grey Towers by the Pinchot family, the Conservation Foundation, the Forest Service, and the Executive Office of the President were complicated by the fact that each institution sought to shape the celebratory moment and contribute to a projected fu-ture in which the nation benefitted from the Pinchot Institute’s success. Yet the impact of the speakers and the entities they represented was also lim-...
8. Branching Out
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All the pleasure of sharing your yard with wildlife builds slowly toward understanding not only wildlife, but man—how we, too, live and fare in relationship to the earth that supplies us with cover, food, water, and living A funny thing happened when Jack Ward Thomas and Ronald A. Dixon decided to eat lunch in a graveyard. The two scientists were working in the U.S. Forest Service’s research unit at the University of Massachu-...
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Grey Towers shortly after construction, 1886. Grey Towers NHS CollectionForester Gifford Pinchot (center, white shirt) on timber-marking operation in Yellowstone Forest Reserve, early 1900s. Grey Towers NHS Collection(Opposite, top) Gifford Pinchot, Mary Eno Pinchot, and James Pinchot, Grey (Opposite, bottom, left) Amos Pinchot. Grey Towers NHS Collection...
9. Turning a White Elephant Gold
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You can almost hear the fatigue in his voice. As Gifford Bryce Pinchot read through the 1982 master plan for Grey Towers, an environmental and cultural assessment that the National Environmental Policy Act (1970) required in advance of any sustained alteration to the national landmark, he was unimpressed and saddened. He had seen such documents before, having received any number of Forest Service plans over the past two de-...
10. Neutral Force
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Issues of democratic health are intimately connected to ecological sustain-When the Grey Towers staff sat down to map out the relationship of the national historic landmark to the Pinchot Institute, they captured it with a Venn diagram. Named for John Venn, who in 1880 had refined the concept of an overlapping set of circles to represent the connections be-tween two or more seemingly distinct sets of ideas, objects, or, in this case, ...
11. Common Cause
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It comes down to the land, its health and viability, its capacity to regener- ate and sustain its ecological relations and their integrity. If salubrious and energetic, then the communities—biotic and human—depending on them will flourish. If not, then the consequences could be destabilizing.That was the message Gifford Pinchot’s parents conveyed to him on his twenty-first birthday when they presented him with a copy of George ...
12. Looking Forward
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The past, we are told, is prologue. But that does not mean its prescrip-tions are always translatable by the present or in the future. When Gifford Pinchot helped galvanize the nation to conserve and sustainably manage its forests or be confronted with a “timber famine,” the world pop-ulation was well under two billion. Six decades later, when President Ken-nedy spoke at the dedication of the Pinchot Institute at Grey Towers, in ...
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Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 28 b&w illustrations
Publication Year: 2013