All his life, Bob Marshall craved adventure and being in nature. He knew and liked how different the city was from the wilderness. He also understood the importance of both. Bob was born in New York City in 1901 into a German-Jewish family. Outside his window, taxis honked and buses belched smoky air. But when summer came, Bob and his family left the city for the Adirondack Mountains. There, his parents taught him to identify plants, to love and cherish nature, and to fight for civil rights.
Bob learned these lessons well. He decided that he would protect the wild places from the cars, trucks, and trains that threatened them. His college studies of forestry and environmental science and Ph.D. in plant physiology led Bob to jobs with the U.S. Forest Service and as Chief of Forestry with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 1935, Bob joined with like-minded folks to form The Wilderness Society, eventually resulting in the Wilderness Act of 1964.
Entirely through his own efforts, Bob Marshall saved five million acres of American wilderness. Alongside others, he contributed to the protection of over 110 million acres of wilderness. Though he died young, at the age of 38, Bob’s dedication to preserving the wild places left a lasting legacy. Thanks to Bob Marshall, there are still places in America where people can listen to the wind in the trees, scramble up a mountain, and perhaps spot a grizzly cub (or two).