Last Saturday in the Archives reading room members of the Swedish-American Historical Society were treated to a talk by Society board member Kevin Proescholdt about the life and work of Sigurd Olson. Olson who lived from 1899 to 1982 was an influential advocate for environmental conservation. His voice is still heard in the many books he wrote and through the environmental policies he helped establish.
Kevin Proescholdt, who himself works professionally to protect wilderness areas as wilderness and public lands program director for the Izaak Walton League of America, told of Sig Olson’s role with the National Parks Association, the Wilderness Society, and the passage of the l964 Wilderness Act. In his talk Kevin shared many photographs as he traced Olson’s life, passion for nature and struggles in environmental activism.
The photograph here shows Kevin (right) in early May 1978 with his friend Carl (BT) Beyerhelm (left) and Sig at the Olson home in Ely, MN. Kevin had met and visited Sig on earlier occasions, but in this shot he had just returned from Washington, DC, where he spent two-weeks lobbying during the subcommittee and full committee markups and votes on the Boundary Water Canoe Area legislation. He was asked by his mentor, Bud Heinselman, chair of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and close friend of Sig Olson, to stop at the Olson home after a canoe trip and fill Sig in on the latest updates of the campaign in DC.
The image poignantly illustrates how we can make connections that serve to guide us well into the future. You can learn more about the life and legacy of Sigurd Olson at his website. Many books by and about Olson, including The Hidden Forest (1969), Of Time and Place (1982) and Guardians of the Parks: a History of the National Parks and Conservation Association, are available at Brandel Library (link to catalog).