Char Miller chronicles the history of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation Studies and describes its iconic national historic site, Grey Towers, offered by Pinchot’s family as a lasting gift to the American people. As a union of the United States Forest Service and the Conservation Foundation, the institute was created to formulate policy and develop conservation education programs. Miller explores the institute’s unique fusion of policy makers, scientists, politicians, and activists and their efforts to increase our understanding of and responses to urban and rural forestry, water quality, soil erosion, air pollution, endangered species, land management and planning, and hydraulic fracking.
Char Miller is W. M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis and director of the Environmental Analysis Program at Pomona College. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Gifford Pinchot and the Making of Modern Environmentalism; Public Lands/Public Debates: A Century of Controversy; Out of the Woods: Essays in Environmental History; and Between Ruin and Restoration: An Environmental History of Israel.
President John F. Kennedy officially dedicated the Pinchot Institute for Conservation Studies on September 24, 1963 to further the legacy and activism of conservationist Gifford Pinchot (1865–1946). Pinchot was the first chief of the United States Forest Service, appointed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1905. During his five-year term, he more than tripled the national forest reserves to 172 million acres. A pioneer in his field, Pinchot is widely regarded as one of the architects of American conservation and an adamant steward of natural resources for future generations.
Author Char Miller highlights many of the important contributions of the Pinchot Institute through its first fifty years of operation. As a union of the United States Forest Service and the Conservation Foundation, a private New York-based think tank, the institute was created to formulate policy and develop conservation education programs. Miller chronicles the institution’s founding, a donation of the Pinchot family, at its Grey Towers estate in Milford, Pennsylvania. He views the contributions of Pinchot family members, from the institute’s initial conception by Pinchot’s son, Gifford Bryce Pinchot, through the family’s ongoing participation in current conservation programming. Miller describes the institute’s unique fusion of policy makers, scientists, politicians, and activists to increase our understanding of and responses to urban and rural forestry, water quality, soil erosion, air pollution, endangered species, land management and planning, and hydraulic franking.
Miller explores such innovative programs as Common Waters, which works to protect the local Delaware River Basin as a drinking water source for millions; EcoMadera, which trains the residents of Cristobal Colón in Ecuador in conservation land management and sustainable wood processing; and the Forest Health-Human Health Initiative, which offers health-care credits to rural American landowners who maintain their carbon-capturing forestlands. Many of these individuals are age sixty-five or older and face daunting medical expenses that may force them to sell their land for timber.
Through these and countless other collaborative endeavors, the Pinchot Institute has continued to advance its namesake’s ambition to protect ecosystems for future generations and provide vital environmental services in an age of a burgeoning population and a disruptive climate.
“Miller is an engaging and masterful storyteller as well as an ace environmental historian as he tracks the development of a powerful idea—that sound economics and social equity are as essential to conservation as good environmental science—from Gifford Pinchot’s earliest writings more than a century ago to the institutions that carry forward that philosophy to address the enormous conservation challenges of our own time.”—V. Alaric Sample, President, Pinchot Institute for Conservation
“Char Miller effectively chronicles the important story of the Pinchot Institute and its place in American conservation. In particular, Seeking the Greatest Good tells this story while carefully grounding it in the place and people that compose its essence—the spirit that has allowed it to accomplish many significant achievements. Indeed, Miller’s account demonstrates how the Pinchot Institute served as a lightning rod and inspiration during the formative period of modern environmentalism.”—Brian C. Black, Pennsylvania State University
Praise for Gifford Pinchot and the Making of Modern Environmentalism
“Miller’s zeal to explicate Pinchot’s true legacy enlivens his episodic biography, the first in decades. A man of convictions who loved public debate, Pinchot advocated responsible logging practices and was prescient in his concern about pollution and the need for affordable and sustainable energy sources. Rich in insight and fascinating detail, Miller’s animated biography presents Pinchot in all his fervor, and environmentalism in all its complexity.”