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ENCOUNTERS WITH THE ARCHDRUID III-A RIVER. By John McPhee · April 3, P. The New Yorker, April 3, P. PROFILE of. Encounters with the Archdruid has ratings and reviews. Tony said: David Brower was an extreme conservationist. His ‘religion’ was wilderness. B. Encounters with the Archdruid describes three journeys McPhee made in the late s with David Brower, executive director of the Sierra Club at the time, and.

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Encounters with the Archdruid describes three journeys McPhee made in the late s with David Brower, executive director of the Sierra Club at the time, and three of Brower’s antagonists: Charles Park, a mineral engineer; Charles Fraser, a resort developer; and Floyd Dominy, a builder of gigantic dams. Praise for Encounters with the Archdruid “Brower and his antagonists are revealed as subtly and convincingly as they would be in a good novel.

McPhee reveals more nuances of the value encountees that dominates the new age of ecology than most writers could pack into a volume twice as long.

I marvel at his capacity to listen intently and extract the essence of a man and his philosophy in the fewest possible words. Then he would kick the dams apart and watch the floods that returned Strawberry Creek to its free- flowing natural state. The two valleys lay wiith by side. Both were in Yosemite National Park, which had been established in Yet within three decades–the National Park notwithstanding–the outlet of Hetch Hetchy was filled with a dam and the entire valley was deeply flooded.

Brower was a boy when the dam was being built. He remembers spending his sixth birthday in the hills below Hetch Hetchy and hearing stories of the battle that had been fought over it, a battle that centered on the very definition of conservation.


Encounters with the Archdruid

Should it mean preservation of wilderness or wise and varied use of land? John Muir, preservationist, founder of the young Sierra Club, had lost this bitter and, as encouners happened, final struggle of his life.

It had been a battle enconuters split the Sierra Club in two. Fifty-five years later, the Sierra Club would again divide within itself, and the outcome of the resulting battle would force the resignation of its executive director, David Brower, whose unsurprising countermove would be to form a new organization and name it for John Muir.

Favorite Quotes: John McPhee – Encounters with the Archdruid

He cannot think of it without melancholy, for he sincerely believes that its very existence is his fault. He feels that if he had ths more aware, if he had more adequately witj himself for his own kind of mission, the dam would not be there.

He could not have come to his job there at a worse time. The Great Drought and the Great Depression had coincided, and the people of the county were destitute. They were not hungry–they could shoot antelope and deer–but they were destitute.

Encounters with the Archdruid – Wikipedia

Their livestock, with black tongues and protruding ribs, were dying because of lack of water. The situation was marginal.

In some years, more than twenty inches of rain would fall and harvests would be copious. In others, when the figure went below ten, the family lived with the lament that there was not money to buy clothes, or even sufficient food. These radical uncertainties were eventually removed by groundwater development, reclamation–the storage of what water there was, for use in irrigation. The herbage was so thin that forty acres of range could reasonably support only one grazing cow. Nonetheless, the territory had been homesteaded, and the homesteaders simply had not received from the federal government enough land for enough cattle to give them financial equilibrium as ranchers, or from the sky enough water give them a chance as farmers.


Then the drought came. Without waiting for approval from Cheyenne or Washington, the young county agent took it upon himself to overcome nature if the farmers and ranchers could not.

With a four-horse Fresno–an ancestral bulldozer–he moved earth and plugged the crease in the terrain where the water would ordinarily run out and disappear into the ground and the air. He built his little plug in the classic form of the earth-fill dam–a three-for-one slope on the water side and two-for-one the other way.

More cattle died, but a pond slowly filled, storing water. The pond is still there, and so is Oedekoven, the rancher.

Stockpond dam and reservoir sites were supposed to be inspected first by Forest Service rangers, but who knows when they would have come? I took it upon myself to ignore these pettifogging minutiae. Dominy and ehcounters ranchers and farmers built a thousand dams in one year, and when they were finished there wasn’t a thirsty cow from Jew Jake’s Saloon to the Montana border. That range program really put me on the national scene.

Encounters with the Archdruid by John McPhee pages, paperback, Noonday Press, Encounters with the Archdruid describes three journeys McPhee made in the late s with David Brower, executive director of the Sierra Club at the time, and three of Brower’s antagonists: