Benton MacKaye

bentonmackayeBenton MacKaye (March 6, 1879 – December 11, 1975) was an American forester, planner andconservationist. He was born in Stamford, Connecticut; his father was actor and dramatist Steele MacKaye. After studying forestry at Harvard University (B.A., 1900; M.A. School of Forestry, 1905), Benton later taught there for several years. He joined a number of Federal bureaus and agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the U.S. Department of Labor; he was also was a member of the Technical Alliance where he participated in the Energy Survey of North America.[1]

MacKaye helped pioneer the idea of land preservation for recreation and conservation purposes, and was a strong advocate of balancing human needs and those of nature; he coined the term “Geotechnics” to describe this philosophy. In addition to writing the first argument against urban sprawl, MacKaye also authored two books, The New Exploration: A Philosophy of Regional Planning and Expedition Nine: A Return to a Region. Thirteen of his essays were published in the collectionFrom Geography to Geotechnics. A co-founder of The Wilderness Society, he is best known as the originator of the Appalachian Trail(AT), an idea he presented in his 1921 article titled An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning. The Benton MacKaye Trail, some portions of which coincide with the Appalachian Trail, is named after him. (Excerpt taken from of Wikipedia)

Some quotes by Benton MacKaye:

“Strictly speaking a radical is one who goes to the root of things, who seeks to change society not by petty reforms on the surface, buy by a drastic review of its whole body. Radicals, generally speaking, are agreed that the existing capitalistic, competitive organization of society has outlived its usefulness – if ever it had any usefulness. They are agreed that only a society founded on cooperation and mutual aid is a tolerable one for the average man and woman. They are agreed that production for profit must give way to production for use. They are agreed that humanity precedes property in the scale of social values.”

Lewis Mumford on Benton MacKaye:

“Unlike so many reformers, who urge people to desert their pleasures and recreations and ‘consider things seriously,’ MacKaye was proposing simply to call people, especially young people, out into this Appalachian region; he asks nothing more, at first, than that the folk who are cribbed, cabined, and confined by the great cities along the coast should camp out in the open spaces of Appalachia, scramble over its hills, make themselves at home in its woodlands, fight the forest fires when need be and guard against them at all times. In short, he wants them to possess the whole landscape, not by act of legislature, but by the process of use and wont, whereby the people of England once upon a time acquired their right to the common lands, and to this day keep their title to the common footpaths that run across the fields.”

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