Brower, David, 1912-2000

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1912-07-01
Death 2000-11-05
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

David R. Brower was born in Calif. in 1912 and joined the Army at San Francisco, Calif. in 1942. At the time of his enlistment, he had two years of college and had worked as a postal clerk and photographer. He served at Fort Lewis, Wash., Camp Hale, Colo., Camp Swift, Tex., and in Italy. With the 10th Mountain Division he was a First Lieutenant and a member of the Mountain Training Group; Company L of the 87th Infantry Regiment; Headquarters, Company I, of the 1st Battalion, 86th Infantry Regiment; and Headquarters of the 3rd Battalion of the 86th. During combat service in Italy, Brower received a Bronze Star medal for actions in the Apennines and the Po Valley. David Brower died in Calif. in 2000.

From the description of David R. Brower papers, 1946. (Denver Public Library). WorldCat record id: 237126678

David Ross Brower was born in Berkeley, Calif. on July 1, 1912. During his extensive career, he served as the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club; founded Friends of the Earth (FOE); co-founded the League of Conservation Voters; and initiated the founding of international FOE organizations (now active in 69 nations). In 1982, he founded Earth Island Institute with colleagues from FOE. A famous mountain climber as a young man, Brower was a lifelong wilderness enthusiast who started working in 1938 to establish Kings Canyon National Park and didn't stop fighting conservation battles until 2000 when he died at the age of 88. He was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

From the description of David Ross Brower papers, 1924-2001. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 84161139

Biographical Information

David Ross Brower was born in Berkeley, California on July 1, 1912, the son of Ross J and Mary Brower. He had three siblings, Edith, Ralph and Joseph.

In his early years, Brower spent much of his time in the woods surrounding Berkeley, both alone and as a guide for his mother, leading her on walks and describing the outdoor world after she lost her sight to a brain tumor. His father taught drafting at the University of California at Berkeley until 1920, when he lost his position and the family lived off the income from rental apartments he owned. For recreation, he often took his family hiking and camping in the nearby mountains of the High Sierra.

A butterfly collector in boyhood, David Brower studied entomology at University of California, Berkeley, but dropped out in 1931 after two years to earn a living. For four years he did clerical work for a candy company in San Francisco, among other odd jobs, while spending all his spare time climbing in the mountains.

Brower joined the Sierra Club in September 1933 sponsored by Richard Leonard, and was added to the Sierra Club Bulletin 's Editorial Board in 1935. He began participating in High Trips, and soon became a leader. He then worked for three years (1935-1938) as an accountant and publicist for the Yosemite Park and Curry Company. During this period in Yosemite, Brower continued to spend much of his time climbing, and quickly became an experienced climber. He also befriended many of the climbers that would influence his later years including Hervey Voge, Bestor Robinson, George Rockwood, Francis Farquhar, and Dick and Doris Leonard. He participated in a historic attempt on Mount Waddington (Canada) in 1935, and the first ascent of New Mexico's Shiprock in 1939. He was also a member of the San Francisco Bay Chapter, and was the first editor of the Yodeler from 1938-1940. In 1941, he became a member of the Sierra Club board of directors.

That same year, Brower was hired as an editor at the University of California Press, where his officemate was fellow editor Anne Hus. They became friends, but she was still involved with a prior suitor in 1942, when Brower enlisted in the Army and volunteered for duty in the newly formed Mountain Troops. Three months later he proposed by mail and they were married on May 1, 1943.

Brower's military service stationed him in a number of training camps, including Camp Hale, Colorado, and the Seneca School in West Virginia. As a lieutenant, Brower trained troops to scale cliffs, and wrote an instruction manual for mountain troops. In 1945 Brower was sent to Italy as a member of the 86th Mountain Infantry, 10th Mountain Division of the US Army. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his service.

Brower returned to California in 1945 and in 1947 he and Anne moved into a small house on Grizzly Peak in Berkeley, California, where they remained the rest of their lives. Brower rejoined the University of California Press and added duties as an editor for the Sierra Club Bulletin .

In 1952, Brower became the Sierra Club's first executive director. During his tenure, Brower helped guide the Sierra Club's rise to national prominence, building the organization's membership from 2,000 to 77,000 members. Under his direction, the Sierra Club led the effort to pass the Wilderness Act, halted dam construction that would have flooded Dinosaur National Monument, and pushed for the creation of the Kings Canyon, North Cascades, and Redwoods National Parks, and the Point Reyes and Cape Cod National Seashores. Brower also led the Sierra Club into one of its largest campaigns, the fight against proposed dams in the Grand Canyon; the campaign included a series of innovative full-page ads in the New York Times that many believe led to the loss of the club's tax exempt status.

While executive director, Brower pursued an aggressive publishing program editing numerous club publications, in particular the club's award-winning Exhibit Format Series. Brower's tenure as executive director ended in 1969, with the board forcing him to resign after a protracted disagreement with members of the board about the construction of a nuclear facility at Diablo Canyon, and charges of financial irresponsibility. Brower continued his association with the Sierra Club, however, and was elected to the board of the Sierra Club in 1983 and1986, and again in 1995, when he left after less than a year, feeling the group was not attacking environmental issues swiftly or strongly enough. He was again elected in 1998, and once again resigned in 2000, shortly before his death.

Immediately after leaving the Sierra Club, he announced the formation of Friends of the Earth (FOE), along with the League of Conservation Voters, and the John Muir Institute for Environmental Studies. In 1972 he founded Friends of the Earth Foundation, and in 1973, Friends of the Earth International. FOE is now multi﷓national and operates in sixty﷓eight countries, and chartered what is now nationally observed as Earth Day. Brower was dismissed as chairman of Friends of the Earth in 1984 over issues of application of funding.

In 1982, Brower established Earth Island Institute, Brower Fund, and the Biennial Fate and Hope of the Earth Conferences. Brower also founded the Global Conservation, Preservation, and Restoration (CPR) Service to help catalyze the restoration of natural and human systems and helped organize the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment.

In 1988 and 1990-92, he led delegations to Lake Baikal in Siberia at Soviet request to aid its protection and restoration. In the fall of 1994, he co-founded the Ecological Council of Americas as a network of organizations in the Americas focused on problems of environment and economic integration. Brower developed plans for the creation of a National Biosphere Reserve System, as well as for a National Land Service to replace the current Bureau of Land Management and to have a new mission of protecting and restoring both public and private lands in the United States. He played a major role in establishing the National Wilderness Preservation System, and the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission (which resulted in the Land and Water Conservation Fund).

During his lifetime, Brower made 70 first ascents, summer and winter, in Yosemite and the Western United States, and trekked to 18,000 feet in the Himalaya below Mount Everest (1976) and to Thyangboche (1984). He received the First Class Skier award in 1942, and, from 1939 to 1956, in the Sierra Club Wilderness Outings Program, he initiated the knapsack, river, and wilderness threshold trips and led some 4,000 people into remote wilderness.

Brower was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times (in 1978, 1979, and 1998 -- jointly with professor Paul Ehrlich). In October 1998, Brower received the Blue Planet Prize, awarded annually by the Asahi Glass Foundation of Japan, for his environmental accomplishments. He also received numerous honorary degrees.

Brower wrote three memoirs, Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run: A Call to Those Who Would Save the Earth, Work in Progress, and For Earth's Sake, the Life and Times of David Brower and has been featured in many films. As a photographer and filmmaker, Brower began making films in the mid-1930s and played a large role in the creation of early conservation films. Among the films that Brower created are Climbing Shiprock, perhaps his first, which captures the first ascent of Shiprock in New Mexico by Brower and the Sierra Club members.

Brower was directly involved in the production of the Sierra Club films Two Yosemites, Skis to the Skyland, Wilderness Alps of Stehekin, Skyland Trails of The Kings, and The Grand Canyon: Living River, Living Canyon. Glen Canyon contains rare images of the canyon prior to flooding due to the construction of the Lake Powell Dam in 1963.

After 50 years of waging personal battles for the environment, David Ross Brower died of cancer on November 5th, 2000. Brower and Anne had four children: a daughter, Barbara, and three sons, Kenneth, Robert, and John.

Comments about Brower's efforts have ranged widely. Brower especially liked what Russell Train said when he was chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality in the Nixon administration: "Thank God for Dave Brower; he makes it so easy for the rest of us to be reasonable."

-Partially from the Earth Island Web Page (http://www.earthisland.org/brower/sub_bio.cfm)

Published works on David Brower, which may be of use to the researcher:

Brower, David R. For Earth's Sake: the Life and Times of David Brower. Layton, Utah: Peregrine Smith Books, 1990.

Brower, David R. Work in Progress. Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith Books, 1991.

Brower, David R. and Steve Chapple. Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run: a Call to Those Who Would Save the Earth. [San Francisco, Calif.]: HarperCollins West, 1995.

David R. Brower - environmental activist, publicist and prophet: an interview, conducted by Susan Schrepfer, 1974-1978. Berkeley: Regional Oral History Office, the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1980.

McPhee, John A. Encounters with the Archdruid. New York: The Noonday Press, 1990, c.1971.

From the guide to the David Ross Brower Papers, 1924-2001, (The Bancroft Library.)

Biographical Information

David Ross Brower was born in Berkeley, California on July 1, 1912, the son of Ross J and Mary Brower. He had three siblings, Edith, Ralph and Joseph.

In his early years, Brower spent much of his time in the woods surrounding Berkeley, both alone and as a guide for his mother, leading her on walks and describing the outdoor world after she lost her sight to a brain tumor. His father taught drafting at the University of California at Berkeley until 1920, when he lost his position and the family lived off the income from rental apartments he owned. For recreation, he often took his family hiking and camping in the nearby mountains of the High Sierra.

A butterfly collector in boyhood, David Brower studied entomology at University of California, Berkeley, but dropped out in 1931 after two years to earn a living. For four years he did clerical work for a candy company in San Francisco, among other note jobs, while spending all his spare time climbing in the mountains.

Brower joined the Sierra Club in September 1933 sponsored by Richard Leonard, and was added to the Sierra Club Bulletin 's Editorial Board in 1935. He began participating in High Trips, and soon became a leader. He then worked for three years (1935-1938) as an accountant and publicist for the Yosemite Park and Curry Company. During this period in Yosemite, Brower continued to spend much of his time climbing, and quickly became an experienced climber. He also befriended many of the climbers that would influence his later years including Hervey Voge, Bestor Robinson, George Rockwood, Francis Farquhar, and Dick and Doris Leonard. He participated in a historic attempt on Mount Waddington (Canada) in 1935, and the first ascent of New Mexico's Shiprock in 1939. He was also a member of the San Francisco Bay Chapter, and was the first editor of the Yodeler from 1938-1940. In 1941, he became a member of the Sierra Club board of directors.

That same year, Brower was hired as an editor at the University of California Press, where his officemate was fellow editor Anne Hus. They became friends, but she was still involved with a prior suitor in 1942, when Brower enlisted in the Army and volunteered for duty in the newly formed Mountain Troops. Three months later he proposed by mail and they were married on May 1, 1943.

Brower's military service stationed him in a number of training camps, including Camp Hale, Colorado, and the Seneca School in West Virginia. As a lieutenant, Brower trained troops to scale cliffs, and wrote an instruction manual for mountain troops. In 1945 Brower was sent to Italy as a member of the 86th Mountain Infantry, 10th Mountain Division of the US Army. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his service.

Brower returned to California in 1945 and in 1947 he and Anne moved into a small house on Grizzly Peak in Berkeley, California, where they remained the rest of their lives. Brower rejoined the University of California Press and added duties as an editor for the Sierra Club Bulletin .

In 1952, Brower became the Sierra Club's first executive director. During his tenure, Brower helped guide the Sierra Club's rise to national prominence, building the organization's membership from 2,000 to 77,000 members. Under his direction, the Sierra Club led the effort to pass the Wilderness Act, halted dam construction that would have flooded Dinosaur National Monument, and pushed for the creation of the Kings Canyon, North Cascades, and Redwoods National Parks, and the Point Reyes and Cape Cod National Seashores. Brower also led the Sierra Club into one of its largest campaigns, the fight against proposed dams in the Grand Canyon; the campaign included a series of innovative full-page ads in the New York Times that many believe led to the loss of the club's tax exempt status.

While executive director, Brower pursued an aggressive publishing program, editing numerous club publications, in particular the club's award-winning Exhibit Format Series. Brower's tenure as executive director ended in 1969, with the board forcing him to resign after a protracted disagreement with members of the board about the construction of a nuclear facility at Diablo Canyon, and charges of financial irresponsibility. Brower continued his association with the Sierra Club, however, and was elected to the board of the Sierra Club in 1983 and1986, and again in 1995, when he left after less than a year, feeling the group was not attacking environmental issues swiftly or strongly enough. He was again elected in 1998, and once again resigned in 2000, shortly before his death.

Immediately after leaving the Sierra Club, he announced the formation of Friends of the Earth (FOE), along with the League of Conservation Voters, and the John Muir Institute for Environmental Studies. In 1972 he founded Friends of the Earth Foundation, and in 1973, Friends of the Earth International. FOE is now multi-national and operates in sixty-eight countries, and chartered what is now nationally observed as Earth Day. Brower was dismissed as chairman of Friends of the Earth in 1984 over issues of application of funding.

In 1982, Brower established Earth Island Institute, Brower Fund, and the Biennial Fate and Hope of the Earth Conferences. Brower also founded the Global Conservation, Preservation, and Restoration (CPR) Service to help catalyze the restoration of natural and human systems and helped organize the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment.

In 1988 and 1990-92, he led delegations to Lake Baikal in Siberia at Soviet request to aid its protection and restoration. In the fall of 1994, he co-founded the Ecological Council of Americas as a network of organizations in the Americas focused on problems of environment and economic integration. Brower developed plans for the creation of a National Biosphere Reserve System, as well as for a National Land Service to replace the current Bureau of Land Management and to have a new mission of protecting and restoring both public and private lands in the United States. He played a major role in establishing the National Wilderness Preservation System, and the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission (which resulted in the Land and Water Conservation Fund).

During his lifetime, Brower made 70 first ascents, summer and winter, in Yosemite and the Western United States, and trekked to 18,000 feet in the Himalaya below Mount Everest (1976) and to Thyangboche (1984). He received the First Class Skier award in 1942, and, from 1939 to 1956, in the Sierra Club Wilderness Outings Program, he initiated the knapsack, river, and wilderness threshold trips and led some 4,000 people into remote wilderness.

Brower was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times (in 1978, 1979, and 1998 -- jointly with professor Paul Ehrlich). In October 1998, Brower received the Blue Planet Prize, awarded annually by the Asahi Glass Foundation of Japan, for his environmental accomplishments. He also received numerous honorary degrees.

Brower wrote three memoirs, Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run: A Call to Those Who Would Save the Earth, Work in Progress, and For Earth's Sake, the Life and Times of David Brower and has been featured in many films. As a photographer and filmmaker, Brower began making films in the mid-1930s and played a large role in the creation of early conservation films. Among the films that Brower created are Climbing Shiprock, perhaps his first, which captures the first ascent of Shiprock in New Mexico by Brower and the Sierra Club members.

Brower was directly involved in the production of the Sierra Club films Two Yosemites, Skis to the Skyland, Wilderness Alps of Stehekin, Skyland Trails of The Kings, and The Grand Canyon: Living River, Living Canyon. Glen Canyon contains rare images of the canyon prior to flooding due to the construction of the Lake Powell Dam in 1963.

After 50 years of waging personal battles for the environment, David Ross Brower died of cancer on November 5th, 2000. Brower and Anne had four children: a daughter, Barbara, and three sons, Kenneth, Robert, and John.

Comments about Brower's efforts have ranged widely. Brower especially liked what Russell Train said when he was chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality in the Nixon administration: "Thank God for Dave Brower; he makes it so easy for the rest of us to be reasonable."

-Partially from the Earth Island Web Page (http://www.earthisland.org/brower/sub_bio.cfm)

Published works on David Brower, which may be of use to the researcher:

Brower, David R. For Earth's Sake: the Life and Times of David Brower. Layton, Utah: Peregrine Smith Books, 1990.

Brower, David R. Work in Progress. Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith Books, 1991.

Brower, David R. and Steve Chapple. Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run: a Call to Those Who Would Save the Earth. [San Francisco, Calif.]: HarperCollins West, 1995.

David R. Brower - environmental activist, publicist and prophet: an interview, conducted by Susan Schrepfer, 1974-1978. Berkeley: Regional Oral History Office, the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1980.

McPhee, John A. Encounters with the Archdruid. New York: The Noonday Press, 1990, c.1971.

Monumental: David Brower's Fight for Wild America, prod. and dir. Kelly Duane, 77 min., Loteria Films, 2004, videocassette.

From the guide to the David Ross Brower Motion Picture Collection, 1939-1998, (The Bancroft Library.)

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Subjects:

  • National parks and reserves
  • Military maneuvers--Cold weather conditions
  • Redwoods
  • Nature conservation--History
  • Environmentalists
  • Nuclear energy--Environmental aspects
  • Soldiers--Correspondence
  • Wildlife conservation
  • Land tenure
  • World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, American
  • Logging--Environmental aspects
  • Mountaineering
  • Population--Environmental aspects
  • Power resources--Environmental aspects
  • Conservationists
  • Nuclear disarmament
  • Ski troops

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • Camp Hale (Colo.) (as recorded)
  • Camp Swift (Tex.) (as recorded)
  • Yosemite National Park (Calif.) (as recorded)
  • California (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • California--Yosemite National Park (as recorded)
  • Grand Canyon (Ariz.) (as recorded)