[Editor’s note: We continue to expand Natural Earth coverage this week by adding U.S. National Parks. Do you have a few hours to spare? We’d like to add National Forests, large state parks, and wilderness areas.]
Edgar Wayburn, 103, a physician and five-time Sierra Club president who is credited with protecting more wilderness and parkland than any other American citizen, died March 5 at his home in San Francisco. No cause of death was reported.
As a volunteer conservationist for more than 50 years, he was a behind-the-scenes force for wilderness protection who never earned the widespread renown of contemporaries such as the outspoken environmental activist David Brower and photographer Ansel Adams. Dr. Wayburn maintained a full-time medical practice, working evenings and weekends to stave off post-World War II development in California’s coastal hills and later to protect millions of acres in Alaska.
“Edgar Wayburn has helped to preserve the most breathtaking examples of the American landscape,” President Bill Clinton said in 1999, when he presented Dr. Wayburn with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.