October 1953 – Pamphlet by the Nature Conservancy


  • October 1953 – Living Museums of Primeval America …our heritage of wild nature… The Nature Conservancy (pamphlet)




[photo of old growth forest]


The Nature Conservancy believes nature preservation is an essential part of progress. It is saving natural areas for very real and important reasons:

  • Basic scientific research – These areas are the laboratories, and the myriad kinds of plants and animals that live within them are raw materials for future biological research. They are storehouses of scientific treasure ranking with libraries and museums.
  • Land-use research – Scientists must study them to find the answers to land-use problems confronting us. A natural area is to the scientist a “check-area” or experimental “control” by which he can gauge the effects of farming, forestry or grazing on similar lands.
  • New products – Scientists have hardly begin to tap the possibilities of the tremendous reservoir of living things. Many wild plants and animals have latent values about which we know nothing. They may provide the miracle drugs of tomorrow. They may be developed into new crops for food or the raw materials of industry.
  • Educational values – These areas will be a source of wonder and excitement as they unfold the story of nature to the children of the future. They alone will remain to teach the true character of our land. They will provide a living record of conditions when the pioneers first began to settle our country. They are remnants of the wilderness that nurtured our civilization and they show the amazing variety and profusion of resources that made America a land of opportunity.
  • Personal values – They will forever be an inspiration and a pleasure to all who behold them. They provide an opportunity for escape from crowds and confusion, for hiking, for meditation, and for simple enjoyment of the beauties of the world around us.
  • The right to live. Such tracts are the last refuge for many kinds of plants and animals that are nearing extinction. Aside from direct benefits, we have a duty. We are obligated, as was Noah, to round up representatives of all living things, and see them safely through the flood – the onrushing flood of civilization.

Natural areas are important. They bear within them untold wealth. As our civilization develops they will become ever more valuable. They will be recognized as an indisputable natural resource.


We are living at the time of man’s final conquest over the wilderness. What we have saved, and what we may save in the next few years will be all the true wild nature that will remain to pass on from generation to generation. There will never be another chance!

We are far behind, and it is late. But if we act now we can save much of what we need. We can save enough to win the everlasting gratitude of the future.

Much has already been done, especially to save the large, spectacular, and scenic features and wilderness areas of our mountainous regions. We must safeguard the parks and reserves already set aside. But the big job we now face is to fill in the gaps.

Here is what we need:

  • Examples of the various types of vegetation and natural features not yet represented in reserves.
  • Enough land to provide adequate habitats for all kinds of plants and animals.
  • Enough areas to satisfy our educational and wilderness recreation needs. There are still vast regions where there are no parks or nature reserves.
  • Nature preservation on all land to the greatest extent consistent with a progressive civilization.


The Nature Conservancy has a long-range action program. It is undertaking to:

  • Make a survey and inventory of the natural types that should be preserved.
  • Keep track of rare kinds of plants and animals, and defend endangered species.
  • Keep an up-to-date register of all wild parks and nature preserves.
  • Defend parks and reserves from exploitation, and work with the agencies keeping these areas.
  • Locate areas that should be saved, and get them set aside, either directly under the Conservancy or under the care of other agencies.
  • Foster scientific and educational use of reserves.
  • Work with schools, museums,, clubs, and government conservation and planning agencies.


The Nature Conservancy is an independent, member-governed organization. It has members in all parts of the United States and Canada, and its membership is open to all who are interested. It is incorporated in the District of Columbia, for non-profit educational and scientific purposes.

The Conservancy operates through voluntary committees, representatives, and divisions. Each region or state has a representative in charge of organizing the program. In states where other existing organizations can carry on the work, the Conservancy works with these groups. Elsewhere, it is promoting the establishment of chapters.

The work of the organization began in 1917 as a committee of the Ecological Society of America. In 1946 the Ecologists Union was formed to take over these tasks. In 1950 the name was changed to the Nature Conservancy. The membership includes many biologists, and the organization works in close cooperation with the Ecological Society and other scientific societies. It is an Affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Conservancy works closely with other conservation groups. It holds membership in the Natural Resources Council of America and the International Union for the Protection of Nature.

The Conservancy sends its NATURE CONSERVATION NEWS to all members and to many cooperators. It complied the recently published inventory “Nature Sanctuaries in the United State and Canada.”

By ruling of the Federal government, dues, contributions, and bequests to the Conservancy are deductible from income and inheritance taxes.

            One of the finest investments we can make, in money or energy, is an investment in the preservation of Nature. Those who follow us on this earth will thank us for it.

            The Nature Conservancy exists as a means by which you can participate with others in this noble work. It is your charity for future generations – your investment in the future.

            We urge you to join with us.

WHEN THE PIONEERS began settling our country, they found a vast land of diverse and beautiful natural features:

Forests and grasslands of endless variety…. Alpine meadows… marshes… peat bogs… savannahs… sagebrush… sand dunes… cliffs… canyons… caves… springs… streams… and ponds.

To them, these things were boundless and inexhaustible.

They went to work cutting an burning the forests, plowing the prairies, and turning their stock out to graze everywhere.

TODAY WE KNOW these natural features were not endless.

Only tiny remnants represent some of them. Some places that are too steep, rocky, wet, or inaccessible, or where the soil is too poor to use, have escaped destruction. A few landowners with rare foresight have deliberately saved parts of their properties, just to have a little untouched nature left on their place.

But farmers are even now draining the last vestiges of wet prairie, and plowing them.

Lumbermen are seeking out the last traces of virgin forest over much of the country.

One man with a tractor can plow an acre of prairie in a matter of minutes.

A crew with modern chain saws can fell an acre of virgin timber in a few hours.

Though we try for a thousand years, we can fully restore neither prairie nor virgin forest.

WE DO STILL HAVE a few small patches of wild nature of most types, areas that have thus far escaped the plow, axe, drainage ditch, fire and grazing. These can be saved by making them nature preserves.

They are monuments – our heritage to be held in trust by each generation. They are living museums of the primeval world of nature.


…we should provide samples of the many kinds of primeval forests, prairies, marshes, and deserts;

…we should provide wild parks and nature reserves within easy reach of everyone;

…we should make it possible for endangered plants and animals to survive;

…we should direct the development of our civilization so that we may live in harmony with nature and natural beauty rather than destroy it;

…we should develop a “ecological conscience
concerning our use of the living land –



In the Nature Conservancy, for these are our beliefs.

We have founded our program on high ideals.

We must put it into effect in a short time.

We will succeed when many people join us and contribute their energy and enthusiastic support.

We hope you will work with us, out on the land.

If you cannot do that, we hope you will give generously of financial support.


607 G. Street, Southeast

Washington 3, D. C.

Board of Governors (Officers)

President: Richard H. Pough (American Museum of Natural History)

Vice President: S. Charles Kendeigh (University of Illinois)

Secretary: Herbert C. Hansen (Catholic University of America)

Treasurer: Joseph J. Hickey (University of Wisconsin)


Conrad Chapman (Boston, Massachusetts)

Austin H. Clark ( U. S. National Museum)

Frank E. Egler (Norfolk, Connecticut)

  1. Raymond Fosberg (Falls Church, Virginia)

Albert M. Fuller (Milwaukee Public Museum)

  1. M. Goethe (Sacramento, California)
  2. B. Gunlogson (Racine, Wisconsin)

William Hard (New Canaan, Connecticut)

Paul A. Herbert (Michigan State College)

Jean M. Linsdale (Carmel Valley, California)

Herbert A. McCullough (Howard College)

Karl A. Menninger (Topeka, Kansas)

  1. Graham Netting (Carnegie Museum)

Curtis L. Newcombe (Lafayette, California)

  1. Laurence Palmer (Cornell University)

Robert L.. Perkins, Jr. (Tenafly, New York)

  1. E. Potzger (Butler University)

James B. Ross (Atlanta Georgia)

Robert W. Schery (Kirkwood. Missouri)

Paul B. Sears (Yale University)

Julian A. Steyermark (Chicago Natural History Museum)

William Vogt (Planned Parenthood of America)

Alvin G. Whitney (Delmar, New York)