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TEACH: Great Lakes Environmental Authors

3 | Sigurd Olson (1899-1982)

Listening Point on Burntside Lake Sigurd Olson, a self-described conservationist, is remembered as an environmental philosopher. His principal subject matter was wilderness and, for many, his ardent support of wilderness preservation bordered on religion. Olson believed wilderness enabled people to feel the timeless, creative force of the universe. His own serene experiences canoeing on the Minnesota-Ontario border were incomparable treasures. A longtime resident of Ely, Minn., he fought developers and logging interests who sought to exploit the nearby Superior National Forest. His success resulted in lasting protection of the 1,000,000-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area and designation of Voyageurs National Park. Through his writings, including The Singing Wilderness, as well as his environmental activism, he developed a national reputation. He became president of the National Parks Association and lobbied for the Wilderness Act, signed in 1964. He maintained a cabin on nearby Burntside Lake, a place that inspired the book, Listening Point.

Graphic: Listening Point on Burntside Lake in northern Minnesota.

More information: Minnesota Authors Biographies Project

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