Grand Canyon to Hearst Ranch

Grand Canyon to Hearst Ranch : One Woman's Fight to Save Land in the American West

4.67 (3 ratings by Goodreads)
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In the 1950s, Harriet Hunt Burgess persevered in the face of daunting obstacles and took extraordinary risks to conserve hundreds of thousands of acres of land in the American West. Without Burgess, places like the Lake Tahoe region and the California coast would be much different today. From Grand Canyon to Hearst Ranch is the story of her struggle, but it is also the story of author Elizabeth Austin's search to find Burgess and tell her more personal story. Austin searches beyond documents and interviews, traveling in Burgess's wake and, in the case of the Grand Canyon, taking a life-changing rafting trip through its depths.
Austin has interwoven her journey through the Grand Canyon and Harriet's experiences there with explorations of her early life and five of her most significant and representative conservation achievements as the founder of the American Land Conservancy.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 432 pages
  • 163 x 234 x 29mm | 726g
  • TwoDot Books
  • United States
  • English
  • Illustrations, unspecified; Halftones, Color including Color Photographs; Halftones, Black & White including Black & White Photographs
  • 1493048341
  • 9781493048342

Back cover copy

[Reading line] An exhilarating trip through the Grand Canyon sets the stage for a serious and scholarly look at a conservation fight by an unlikely heroine. [Review blurbs tk]
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Review quote

If you ever thought that conservation of precious places "just happens," Elizabeth Austin's new biography of a warrior for land conservation--Harriet Burgess--will forever change your perspective. Austin tells Harriet's story so you are holding your breath with her through the roller coaster of ups and downs that go along with every deal. As The Trust for Public Land's newest President, I was especially fascinated to learn how Harriet learned her craft with us before striking out on her own. Austin's reflections on the inevitability of change and the energy that is coming from a new generation of commitment to connecting everyone to nature--to nature equity--are insightful. Thank you to Austin for documenting the creativity, risk-taking, courage and hard work that it takes to protect the places we care about most. Diane Regas, President and CEO, The Trust for Public Land A sweeping and detailed examination of an important figure in American conservation. Austin has captured the vision, the tenacity, and the fire that drove Harriet Burgess in her mission to preserve some of the most beautiful landscapes in the American West. Kevin Fedarko, Author of The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon Elizabeth Austin's penning of Harriet Burgess's life is brilliant and compelling. The weaving of the author's experiences as she sets out on a journey to retrace Harriet's life creates a "magic pull" like that of Harriet's beloved Grand Canyon itself. Harriet Burgess was a true force of nature, impassioned by her love of the land, driven and determined to overcome all obstacles, and divinely guided to conserve nature's wonders for future generations. Thank you to Harriet and Elizabeth for daring greatly and inspiring all of us! Nita Vail, CEO, California Rangeland Trust Elizabeth Austin beautifully frames the compelling story of Harriet Hunt Burgess, a heroic but unsung leader of conservation in the American West, with an exhilarating tale of the Grand Canyon. This is an irresistible read that inspires us all to seek and fulfill our purpose in life. Rob Stewart, Award-Winning Journalist and Host/Executive Producer of KVIE's "Rob on the Road" Harriet Burgess was a woman of passion and compassion, exuding warmth and endless enthusiasm with her broad smile and engaging eyes. Elizabeth Austin weaves a wonderful tale of Harriet's growth and adventures with her own trip through the Grand Canyon, the source of Harriet's drive to save land. Her book perfectly captures Harriet's charm wit, tenacity, and profound caring for our earth. John Blaustein, Photographer, Grand Canyon River guide, and author of The Hidden Canyon: A River Journey In Grand Canyon to Hearst Ranch, Elizabeth Austin illuminates the life and accomplishments of perhaps the most effective and under-appreciated titan of land conservation in the late twentieth century, Harriet Hunt Burgess. The book captures the cyclonic energy, never-say-die persistence and generous heart that Harriet brought to saving iconic landscapes throughout the American West including the gravesite of John Muir--with whom, as the book makes clear, Harriet rightly shares a place in the pantheon of conservation gods and goddesses. Ralph Benson, Executive Director (retired), Sonoma Land Trust Harriet Hunt Burgess's first river trip through the Grand Canyon transformed her into a fierce defender of public lands. Through Elizabeth Austin's interwoven story of Harriet's remarkable journey from the Grand Canyon to Hearst Ranch, we can now relive and celebrate her everlasting contributions. Austin nails it: "Harriet's legacy is the land she saved." Ethan Aumack, Executive Director, Grand Canyon Trust
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About Elizabeth Austin

Elizabeth Austin is uniquely qualified to tell Harriet's story. She has had unrestricted access to the files of Harriet's organization, the American Land Conservancy (ALC). She enjoys the friendship and assistance of Harriet's eldest daughter who spent many years working for her mother at ALC. She has had the full cooperation of Harriet's family.
Elizabeth already knew or was able to meet many of Harriet's friends and business associates including Martin Litton, Bruce Babbitt, and Steve Hearst. Her husband, Russell Austin, was Harriet's longtime advisor as well as ALC's attorney. Like Harriet, Elizabeth has traveled through the Grand Canyon in a dory on the Colorado River.
Elizabeth Austin is an experienced librarian and historian with master's degrees in both fields and one book, To Be the Change You Wish to See (2d ed., Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley Public Policy Press, 2017), already published.
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Rating details

3 ratings
4.67 out of 5 stars
5 67% (2)
4 33% (1)
3 0% (0)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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