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Reno author re-examines Yosemite’s past



Ever wonder why America has national parks, wilderness areas and other conserved landscapes?  Initiated in 1864 with Yosemite Grant, “America’s Best Idea” –the concept of protecting special areas from development—has  spread around the world, shaping the relationship between humans and their environment everywhere on earth. 

These landscapes have become so important to American national identity that few of us stop to consider why and how they came into being in the first place. Jen Huntley’s first book, The Making of Yosemite: James Mason Hutchings and the Origin of America’s Favorite National Park  (University Press of Kansas, 2011), offers new perspectives on the power politics and culture wars surrounding the creation of America’s first federally sanctioned sacred space, the Yosemite Valley.

The relationship between humans and their environment is a defining issue that frames policy debates, culture and community identity.

In The Making of Yosemite, Huntley explores new questions about the role of environmental conservation in modern American identity; the relationship between sacred spaces such as national parks and urban sustainability; John Muir’s role in environmental history; and the connections between consumerism, industrialization and metropolitan growth and the creation of sacred wilderness spaces.

Although rooted in the particulars of Yosemite’s origin, this story has widespread appeal to audiences concerned about environmental conservation and sustainability and sparks spirited conversations about the past, present and future of American environmental consciousness.

About Jen Huntley

Jen Huntley, PhD., author of The Making of Yosemite: James Mason Hutchings and the Origins of America’s Favorite National Park, is an environmental historian of the Sierra Nevada and Pacific Rim.  Her career at the University of Nevada, Reno, includes a visiting assistant professorship in the department of history and associate director for education and outreach for the interdisciplinary University of Nevada Academy for the Environment, which she co-designed. She is president of greenUP!, “Where Sustainability is the New Business-as-Usual,” writes the regular feature, “Edible Traditions” for Edible Reno-Tahoe and is on the board of several Reno nonprofit organizations.

View Huntley’s professional profile on Interfolio, LinkedIn and Facebook.

You can read archived Jen’s “East of Eden” column here: http://www.newsreview.com/reno/content?oid=1211043

And her blog reminiscing about the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 here: http://tiananmen64plus20.wordpress.com/

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