Mark Fiege is the Wallace Stegner Chair in Western American Studies at Montana State University and the author of The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States (2012) and Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the American West (1999), which received the Forest History Society's Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Book Award. His article "The Weedy West," published in the Western Historical Quarterly (2005), won several honors, including the American Society for Environmental History's Alice Hamilton Prize. Prior to moving to Montana State, he was a founding member of the Public Lands History Center at Colorado State University and a participant in its Parks as Portals to Learning, a research and learning program based on environmental history that brings together faculty, students, and resource managers at Rocky Mountain National Park. His current research includes a book on conservation in the national parks.
Over the last three decades, environmental history has become a vital and innovative field of historical scholarship. This lecture assesses the role of environmental history in the national parks and suggests that the field can play an important role in the management and interpretation of all parks, from Civil War battlefields to the large, ostensibly natural parks predominant in the American West.