Harvey Manning was NCCC’s most famous member, by virtue of his publications, the lengthy list of which includes The Wild Cascades: Forgotten Parkland, Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, Backpacking One Step at a Time, and the 100 Hikes and Footsore series that introduced so many people to the North Cascades. His career included time as a speechwriter for the President of the University of Washington.
He was a climber in his early days and frequently related the story of how he gradually came to realize action needed to be taken to protect the land he traveled so extensively. Excerpts from his writing were used to recreate his persona in The Irate Birdwatcher video. That was a nom de plume he used in The Wild Cascades for years, derived from a Seattle Times editorial in the 1960s that referred to conservationists like himself as “mountain climbers and birdwatchers” opposed to progress.
“Not long after I became president of this organization, Harvey Manning began sending me letters on a wide variety of subjects that seemed to have just popped into his head. He wrote these letters to people with his museum-quality manual typewriter on the back of envelopes or the blank side of bills and junk mail. He pushed the envelope on recycling. Often my letter would be a smudged carbon of something that had gone to some other NCCC member. Despite the lack of sophisticated media presentations, the content of these letters was fascinating. The topics were often rambling but never boring communiqués that could be on virtually any subject, from trails to national politics. I could never understand why an author of Harvey’s stature would use his time to bring me up to speed on the latest things racing through his mind… He was a guy who was able to see the big picture, figure out what the long-range approach should be, and then articulate his message in written form. It is unlikely that there will ever be another one like Harvey, able to use Shakespeare, the Classics, and his own wit to cut a pompous bureaucrat down to size. The best we can hope for is a core group of people with the will to stay on the cutting edge of the movement. When I look back on the truly important things Harvey was able to accomplish with his typewriter and attitude, it makes me more determined than ever to do what I can to carry on with the same spirit…” -Marc Bardsley
Harvey Manning appears near the end of this video clip, having dinner with David Brower and describing now Brower asked him to write The Wild Cascades: Forgotten Parkland. [Excerpt from For Earth’s Sake: The David Brower Story, 1989, (c) John DeGraff, used with permission]
You can order Harvey’s history of Cascades conservation, Wilderness Alps: Conservation and Conflict in Washington’s North Cascades here.