November 22 — Grofe’s “Grand Canyon Suite” Premiered (1931)

Pundits often say that the truly American contributions to literature, philosophy, and the arts all stem from the American landscape.  As Woody Guthrie wrote and sang, “…From the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters…,” this land was made for stirring the imagination and creativity of America’s artists and writers.  A prime example of that […]

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November 21 — Lava Beds National Monument Created (1925)

President Calvin Coolidge was known as a man of few words (his nickname was Silent Cal), and he characteristically used few words to proclaim a new national monument on November 21, 1925.  The lands, he said, “contain objects of such historic and scientific interest as to justify their reservation and protection….”  And so, Lava Beds […]

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November 20 — John Merle Coulter, Pioneering Botanist, Born (1851)

Today is a day for botanists.  Two famous plant guys were born on November 20.  Augusto Weberbauer, born in 1871, was a German botanist who studied the flora of Peru, publishing the first comprehensive catalogue of Peruvian plants.  Twenty years Weberbauer’s senior,  John Merle Coulter was born on November 20, 1851 (died 1928), and became […]

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November 19 — World Toilet Day

When we see the acronym “WTO,” we typically think World Trade Organization.  But there is another WTO, one that is much more important and fundamental—the World Toilet Organization.  It was founded on November 19, 2001.  And, therefore, the United Nations has designated November 19 each year as World Toilet Day.             You can make all […]

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October 9 — Vajont Dam Disaster (1963)

It was the perfect place to build a dam.  The Italian Alps had formed a deep, steep-sided valley that could provide the site for a tall, narrow dam capable of providing enormous amounts of hydro-electricity.  So, the Italians built it—the Vajont Dam, highest arched dam in the world at the time.  The tragic flaw would […]

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October 11 — Big Cypress and Big Thicket National Preserves Created (1974)

This date in 1974 represents the creation of a new category of U.S. National Park Service units—the “national preserve.”  Two national preserves were created on this date—the Big Cypress in southern Florida and the Big Thicket in southeastern Texas.             National preserves are much like national parks—they must be functioning ecosystems that contain outstanding natural, […]

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October 15 — Isabella Bird, Pioneering Eco-traveler, Born (1831)

Imagine a combination of John Muir and Mark Twain, one an astute observer of nature and the other a journalist of his worldwide travels.  Both were enormously popular during their lives—and both are still popular today.  Now, imagine them as a British woman doing the same things at about the same time—and you have Isabella […]

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October 8 — World Octopus Day

No, it isn’t an official day, endorsed by the United Nations or the U.S. Congress or even Charlie the Tuna.  The origins are as murky as a cloud of octopus ink.  According to one site, it began in 2007, but no one has claimed responsibility.  And it is on October 8 because, well, because the […]

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October 6 — Mad Hatter’s Day

Absolutely nothing happened in conservation and the environment on October 6.  At least I can’t find anything.  Happily, however, October 6 is Mad Hatter’s Day, so designated because Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter character has a sign in his hat that reads “In this style 10/6.”  The 10/6 refers to the cost of the hat in […]

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