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October 28, 2014

America's Secret: "We Had Muir"


Fountain Lake Farm in central Wisconsin, the boyhood home of Sierra Club founder John Muir, was recently purchased for protection by a Wisconsin land trust. The newly protected area will adjoin the John Muir Memorial County Park and be part of a larger 1,400-acre natural preserve, which also includes the Fox River National Wildlife Refuge.

Spencer-Black"Muir always credited his upbringing on Fountain Lake Farm with instilling in him a love of wild things," says Sierra Club Vice President Spencer Black, at left, the keynote speaker at an October 15 event in Madison, Wisconsin, celebrating the farmstead's protection. "In The Story of My Boyhood and Youth, published in 1913, he wrote that it was this landscape that first inspired his passion for nature."

The farm was purchased by the Natural Heritage Land Trust, and was funded in part by contributions from the John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club as well as Wisconsin's Stewardship Fund, a land conservation effort begun by Black when he was a Wisconsin state legislator.

"While Muir achieved fame vividly describing and fighting to protect the Sierra Nevada and other lands out west," Black said in his keynote remarks, "he always credited his love of nature to his upbringing in Wisconsin.

"Galen Rowell, the renowned wilderness photographer and mountaineer, while climbing in the Alps with a European colleague, asked him why the mountains in Europe had so much development compared with many of our American ranges. The European mountaineer replied simply: 'You had Muir.'

"Here in Wisconsin, we can indeed be proud that 'We had Muir.' And now, thanks to the good work of the Natural Heritage Land Trust, we all have, protected for posterity, the landscape that inspired John Muir to protect our wild places."


 Read Black's complete remarks at the celebration of the purchase of Fountain Lake Farm.

 Photos of Fountain Lake Farm by Brant Erickson; photo of Spencer Black by John Murray Mason.

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