Joe & Margaret Miller

Joe and Margaret Miller, ca. 1970

Joe Miller, photo by Ira Spring



Joe and Margaret Miller, 2005







Joseph W. Miller, 1915-2007

NCCC Board 1960 – 1994
NCCC Treasurer 1962 – 1994
North Cascades Foundation Board 1971 – 2003
NCCC Treasurer 1971 – 2003

Margaret Miller, 1922-2015

A full timeline of Joe and Margaret Miller’s conservation work and life history
can be found here, courtesy of the Washington Native Plant Society which Joe helped found.

Joe Put it All Together

A small group of outdoor lovers and enthusiastic hikers, we spent a week each year on the wilderness beach of Olympic National Park. We crunched the salty sands and explored the tide pools at lowest tides in July. We hopped along drift logs, climbed over rocks, and found glass floats from Japan. We brushed through the headland forests on elk trails — and Joe Miller was always in front with his movie camera, putting all of our activity on film.

JoeMiller with movie camera1

Joe with his movie camera in the Big Beaver valley. (Click to enlarge.)

Later in the year, at evening work parties we would revisit these wonderful trips, viewing Joe’s movies. These were during gatherings of North Cascade Conservation Council members at my house in North Seattle, where printed pages of The Wild Cascades were assembled, bound, and addressed for mailing. the pages were in successive piles on collapsible tables, which volunteers rounded, assembling the pages that were given to Joe who used a huge hand-operated stapler to bind them as he brought the journal together.


Joe fought endlessly to bring together all of the reasons why Seattle City light should not raise Ross dam on the Skagit river and flood the Big Beaver Valley of the new North Cascades National Park [writing as the “Kaopectate Kid” in The Wild Cascades and in a biological survey of the valley written with Margaret]. He was justly critical of Washington State Governor Dixie Lee Ray for advocating the potential High Ross dam.

Joe and Margaret Miller devoted untold energy and time to bringing back the vegetative health of damaged alpine regions of the North Cascades. Their successful revegetation of Cascade Pass was a biological milestone that has served to promote the [Park Service’s horticultural] program throughout damaged regions of the national parks and national forests of the Cascades.  -Patrick Goldsworthy


The Millers documented their legacy of revegetation experiences in 1977 in “Suggested Revegetation Practices” their personal how-to guide for restoring alpine biomes.


Joe’s modest manner tended to hide his many and varied talents, his uncommon courage and the strength of his determination. He was a man not easily deterred by obstacles from doing what he set out to do. Like the flowers and meadows he so loved, he could push his way quietly through concrete. With Margaret, Joe shared a deep sense of love for nature — for wildflowers, meadows, trees, birds, streams  and mountains — and a deep commitment to preserving it. It is sometimes said of World War II vets that they “saved the world”. For Joe Miller, saving the world was a life-long pursuit.  -Charles Ehlert

Margaret Miller using snow to provide water for transplanted alpine plants at Cascade Pass

Further remembrances of Joe can be found in The Wild Cascades, Spring 2007 issue. Margaret’s life is celebrated in The Wild Cascades, Winter 2016.