Restoring the Narrative of American Environmentalism

Ben Minteer, Stephen Pyne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The conventional narrative of American environmentalism is no longer very helpful for conservationists and restorationists seeking philosophical justification and guidance for their work. The tradition has often been cropped into a narrower and simplified account of the battle between the philosophies of wise use and preservation, a move bolstered by the turn to historical images of President Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir visiting California's Yosemite National Park in the early years of the twentieth century. This cropped conservation picture needs to be restored and widened to engage the pragmatism that has always been a part of the U.S. environmental tradition, but that became eclipsed by preservationist ideology with the rise of the fields of environmental history and environmental philosophy in the late twentieth century. Restoring this lost pragmatism to the environmental tradition will prove vital to recovering the value of environmental history and philosophy for conservation and restoration practice and to reclaiming a more holistic and useful narrative of people, culture, and environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-11
Number of pages6
JournalRestoration Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Conservation history
  • Environmental philosophy
  • Muir and Roosevelt
  • Pragmatism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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