More about John Muir

Listen to John Muir by Lee Stetson

Listen to Bill Hanna, John Muir’s great grandson

The Founding of JMGC

One person can make a difference in the world. He/she may not know it at the time, but history is filled with examples. Take John Muir for one. And one is all that was needed to start a cause. Did he know that he would become the voice for protecting natural wonders and national parks in the U.S.? That he would cofound the Sierra Club? Of course not, but he had vision, drive and determination coupled with a strong intellectual curiosity that guided him along the way.

So it is with the John Muir Geotourism Center (JMGC). One person living in Greeley Hill, California saw the opportunity to follow John Muir’s example in order to preserve and enhance the rural community and natural environment*, and in turn educate future visitors. Ken Pulvino, Birders Homestead rancher and local advocate for agri-tourism at the time, read Muir’s journal, My First Summer in the Sierra, and learned that he had walked right up what is now county road J132, past his ranch, on the famous journey from Oakland to Yosemite. His efforts to overcome obstacles and objections to name J132 the John Muir Highway over next few years successfully culminated in Mariposa and Tuolumne Counties’ agreement to the naming. June 5, 2010 saw the ribbon cutting and road naming ceremony for the John Muir Highway—labeled as the John Muir Historic Route—at the first annual John Muir Festival.

In December of 2010, the Pulvinos then donated half of their 165-acre ranch to the Sierra Foothill Conservancy as part of a bigger vision for the John Muir Highway project. It is named the Bean Creek Preserve and the donation was celebrated in the rain at the 2nd annual John Muir Festival in 2011. This bigger vision was the John Muir Geotourism Center whose “principles are oriented toward the joy of using the natural environment for mental, spiritual and physical development modeled after John Muir as exhibited in his life, writings and journal notes. These same principles are also found in the journals/notes and history of other iconic nature and science writers (e.g. Charles Darwin). Being able to recreate this mental/spiritual/physical state of being and immersion awareness by connecting directly through Muir’s words within the still preserved natural context of what he saw in 1868-69 lies at the heart of the unique geotourism theme.”

In January of 2012, the Graf-Pulvino Family Fund provided a grant to launch the JMGC and establish a local board and team to bring the geotourism project to life. The project includes the annual festival, expanding with tours, outreach and youth education programs in conjunction with other like-minded organizations.

The hurried and busy world today can learn from the John Muir inquiry model that is woven into each visit and program: Importance of intellectual and physical rigor; Application, integration and synthesis of observations in natural settings; Unbridled joy from sharing a passion for nature.

*Definition of “geotourism” – coined by National Geographic as “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.”