First Advisor

Catherine McNeur

Date of Award


Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in History and University Honors






Redwood National Park (Calif.)--History, Coast redwood--Conservation--California, Humboldt Redwoods State Park (Calif.)--History, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (Calif.)--History, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park (Calif.)--History, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park (Calif.)--History, Save the Redwoods League--History, Sierra Club--History




This project is an environmental and political analysis of the 1968 creation of Redwood National Park in northwestern California. As the most expensive public lands acquisition ever authorized by Congress, Redwood National Park represents a crucial point in the evolution of the American conservation movement. This paper examines the cause and nature of the conflict that arose between the Sierra Club and the Save the Redwoods League-two of California's oldest and most influential conservation organizations--over the location and scope of a Redwood National Park; and what effect that conflict had upon the final iteration of the Park once it was signed into law on October 2, 1968. It will examine the methods of political influence through which the Club and the League each fought for the Park that they believed to be most essential to the continued protection of Sequoia sempervirens. This paper will build on the :framework established by Susan Schrepfer in her 1983 book, The Fight to Save the Redwoods, and examine the conflict through the dual lenses of the Sierra Club's populist-driven approach and the Save the Redwoods League's elitist-driven approach. Finally, this paper will delineate how the last remaining old growth redwood stands on Earth were held hostage to a political standoff, and shall prove that the creation of Redwood National Park represents a pivotal point in the evolution of the American conservation -movement. Through an examination of political influence and environmental agency, this paper contributes to our understanding of the modern conservation movement in the United States.


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Note: this thesis is only available to students, staff and faculty at Portland State University.

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