For those of us who treasure the wilderness and want to preserve every pristine particle in it, the death late last month of Martin Litton was a bit jolting. Sure, he was 97 years old and certainly lived what eulogies often refer to as “a full life.”
And by that, we’re talking about a controversial outdoorsman who filled that life with stints as a LA Times reporter, WWII glider pilot, nature photographer, river runner, curmudgeonly conservationist and devout environmentalist.
By comparison, Martin Litton makes the equally grey-bearded “Most Interesting Man in the World” beer commercial character look like an Iowa accountant.
National Geographic contributor Kenneth Brower recently wrote a glowing description of Litton, an environmental pioneer who, as a sideline, founded his own dory fleet business, running rivers in boats of his own design. (Fun fact: Litton holds the record as the oldest man to row the Grand Canyon, which he did at the age of 87.)
Brower’s must-read piece for National Geographic waxes poetic on the accomplishments of this amazing man. Below are a few highlights:
- It was Litton who first understood the damage that a Marble Canyon Dam would inflict on Grand Canyon National Park.
- It was Litton who uncovered U.S. Forest Service mismanagement of the giant sequoias of California.