Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Return to Wild America

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Return to Wild America

A Yearlong Search for the Continent's Natural Soul

by Scott Weidensaul

Return to Wild America by Scott Weidensaul
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2005, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2006, 416 pages

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About the author: Born in 1959, Scott Weidensaul has lived almost all of his life among the long ridges and endless valleys of eastern Pennsylvania, in the heart of the central Appalachians, a landscape that has defined much of his work.

He has written more than two dozen books on natural history, including Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds (1999), which was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. He lives in the Pennsylvania Appalachians.

Some key events in the USA environmental movement:

  • 1864: Legislation passed making Yosemite Valley into a state park.
  • 1866: The word 'ecology' is coined by a German biologist, Ernst Haeckel.
  • 1877: Appalachian Mountain Club founded.
  • 1872: Yellowstone becomes the first national park.
  • 1886: Audubon Society founded.
  • 1892: Sierra Club is incorporated.
  • 1916: National Park Service founded.
  • 1935: Wilderness Society founded.
  • 1962: Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring.
  • 1964: The Wilderness Act passed.
  • 1968: A plan to dam the Grand Canyon is killed!
  • 1969: An oil spill in Santa Barbara arouses public anger.
  • 1970: Clean Air Act passed.
  • 1970: First Earth Day.
  • 1972: DDT banned in USA.
  • 1972: Water Pollution Control Act passed.
  • 1973: Endangered Species Act passed.
  • 1978: The Love Canal scandal alerted people to the dangers of soil/groundwater pollution (see The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates at BookBrowse).
  • 1979: Three Mile Island nuclear plant narrowly avoids a meltdown. 
  • 1980: Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act passed.
  • 2005: The Kyoto Agreement came into force following ratification by 156 countries (notable exceptions being the USA and Australia).

This article was originally published in January 2006, and has been updated for the November 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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