‘Yosemite and the National Park Idea’ addressed Friday

Dayton Duncan will address the “Seed of the Future: Yosemite and the National Park Idea” at the next Amos Fortune Forum Friday.

One hundred and fifty years ago, with the Civil War still raging, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill that changed the course of history. A beautiful valley and a grove of giant trees far away in California — which neither the President nor members of Congress had ever seen — were set aside and protected from development.

With that, the seed of a new idea was planted. We now take national parks for granted, but until 1864, a country’s most remarkable landscapes had always been the exclusive preserve of royalty and the rich.

The law Lincoln signed to create the “Yosemite Grant” and at first entrust it to the state of California marked the beginning of a new way to consider such special places — that they should belong to everyone and for all time. It was an idea as unique as the Declaration of Independence and just as radical.

Noted author and documentary filmmaker Dayton Duncan will tell the compelling story of how Yosemite set the national park idea in motion — a story that includes well-known characters like John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt, but also a failed prospector from Dublin named Galen Clark.

Duncan, who lives in Walpole, has served on the boards of the National Park Foundation, the Student Conservation Association and the Conservation Lands Foundation and was appointed by President Clinton as chair of the American Heritage Rivers Advisory Commission.

For more than 20 years he has been making documentaries for PBS with Ken Burns, including “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” for which he won two Emmy awards as writer and producer, and was named by the director of the National Park Service as an Honorary Ranger. His twelfth book, “Seed of the Future: Yosemite and the Evolution of the National Park Idea,” was recently released by the Yosemite Conservancy.

The forums begin promptly at 8 p.m. and are free to attend. Voluntary donations are appreciated.

For more information, visit www.amosfortune.com.

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