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John Muir's Sequoia
RJ Amador considers whether John Muir would approve of cloning the Giant Sequoia he planted at his Martinez home.

By RJ Amador

It is reported that a passionate park service horticulturalist is trying to clone an ailing Giant Sequoia at John Muir's historic home in Martinez. According to the folklore, Muir, the father of our national parks, planted a seedling of the sequoia in the 1880s. And though Mr. Muir was an accomplished multidisciplinary scientist -- a glaciologist and inventor of clocks, among other things -- it is doubtful he would have known that Giant Sequoias don't do too well below a certain altitude, let alone near sea level as in Martinez. So Muir's tree, still young for a Sequoia, which can live to be thousands of years old, is sick, and the horticulturalist hopes to plant the cloned seedling in the High Sierra, honoring both John Muir and his legacy.

My question is this: what would John Muir do? Having read much of  Muir's writings on his wanderings throughout "glorious" North American wild lands, I am almost certain that he would let his Giant Sequoia -- planted by human hands so far outside of its natural territory -- expire. To honor its death, I am even more certain that Muir would re-double his efforts to preserve as much "wildness" of California as possible, so that the Giant Sequoia and every other plant and animal inhabiting our unique slice of the continent can thrive. Muir was unabashedly a strict preservationist. In his words, "In God's wildness lies the hope of the world -- the great fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware."

As I work within minutes of the Muir historic home, I have visited the tree in question often. I too am saddened by the Sequoia's illness; even at its young age, it is a majestic complement to Muir's well-preserved home and famed scribble-den. But lest visitors forget, Muir spent much more time exploring, living and thriving in wilderness than he spent writing about it.

With a Perspective, I'm R. J. Amador.

R.J. Amador operates a recycled products company in Martinez.

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