Remembering Martin Litton: Rabble-rousing Environmentalist

“You don’t have to be brave to stand alone, you just have to be ornery!”  

Martin Litton

Martin Litton passed away November 30th, 2014 at the age of 97. Martin was an unapologetic rebel — a cantankerous rabble-rouser and eco-warrior for the past seventy years. He was at the center of several important environmental battles of the 20th Century, including the Grand Canyon, Mono Lake, Dinosaur National Monument, and the creation of Redwood National Park in Northern California. He was 95 at the time of our interview and showed no signs of quieting down about the state of our environment.

Since childhood, Mr. Litton has been outspoken about the environment. He never feared speaking truth to power. When he saw something wrong he acted to correct it. At age 18 he wrote his first letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times denouncing the degredation of Mono Lake, whose water was siphoned to the expanding Los Angeles basin. He then worked for the LA Times after returning home from the war, where he was a glider pilot flying sorties over Europe.

Litton was closely affiliated with the Sierra Club for more than 60 years. He served on the Sierra Club Board of Directors from 1964-1972. He led numerous environmental charges and is the author of The Life and Death of Lake Mead. He is known for resisting and stopping proposed dams on the Colorado River as well as fighting the U.S. Forest Service over logging public treasures like California’s giant Sequoia forests. Martin was also a major force in establishing the Redwood National Park and as a writer he often used direct experience and nature photography to inspire others to act.

Martin Litton was well known for his outfitting business, Grand Canyon Dories, which provided his livelihood for 20 years. As a 92 year-old, Martin broke the record of being the oldest person to run the Grand Canyon in a dory. At the time of his death he was president at Sequoia ForestKeeper, an organization he founded. Martin was truly one of a kind and will be missed by the environmental community.

Additional links:

National Geographic

Los Angeles Times

NPR

Video – They Don’t Make ’em Like This Anymore.

 

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