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Roaring River Falls, Kings River Canyon, California

Ansel Adams
Roaring River Falls, Kings River Canyon, California
Negative: Circa 1925; Print: 1927
6 x 8 inches
Courtesy David H. Arrington Collection, Midland, Texas
© 2010 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

In 1934, Ansel Adams (1902–1984) was elected to the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club, which provided him with an opportunity to play a central role in environmental policy in America for the next thirty-seven years. That year, the club sent him to Washington, D.C., to act as a lobbyist for establishing Kings Canyon as a national park. Adams made a strong impression in the nation’s capital with his Stetson hat and his portfolio of photographs of the Kings Canyon region of his home state of California. Seeking a larger audience for these pictures, in 1938 Adams published Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail, a limited-edition book. He sent copies to key legislators in Washington, including Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, who shared it with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. With the support of Ickes and Roosevelt, Congress established Kings Canyon National Park, in 1940. Though Adams had not made his photographs for the purpose of advocacy, they had been effective in that sphere, and the triumph marked an important shift for the artist who had found a way to combine his passions for both photography and conservation.