flying duck logo Oberholtzer – Legacy

Interpreting the Legacy:
A discussion of the Ernest C. Oberholtzer Foundation
Board of Directors in Early September 2008


To fully understand a man, you must read what others have written and thought about him. Here are just a few of the things said about Ober.

“Ernest Oberholtzer (1884–1977) is one of the great, unsung heroes of the American conservation movement. He is best known for his pioneering work to preserve one of the last remaining wilderness areas east of the Rockies, the Quetico-Superior region of northern Minnesota and southern Ontario.”

–Minnesota Historical Society

“We gain inspiration and take heart from Oberholtzer, a leader of the nation's wilderness movement for much of the twentieth century, and his philosophy of action, an acknowledgment that ‘we never know our powers until we put them to the test.’ His story continues to inspire wilderness activists.”

–William H. Meadows, President The Wilderness Society

“Mr. Oberholtzer. For a long time I have been following your work with more than a passing interest and believe sincerely that what you are doing is a great thing.”

–Sigurd F. Olson, December 26, 1930

“Oberholtzer, a pioneer conservationist, has been called ‘the original architect of the border wilderness.’ He began environmental campaigns in the 1920s to stop the damming of rivers for hydroelectric power. The movement he led would eventually produce the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Voyageur's National Park in Minnesota and Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario.”

–The Minneapolis StarTribune selected Ober as one of the 100 Most Influential Minnesotans of the twentieth century.

“We have too few environmental heroes to allow one so exceptional as Ernest Oberholtzer to slip away from us. In a time when competitive self interest is the honored norm and profiteers slaver to exploit those bits of pristine wilderness that remain on our suffering planet, the story of Ernest Oberholtzer reminds us there is another way.”

–Joe Paddock, Keeper of the Wild: The Life of Ernest Oberholtzer. (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2001)

“A ‘long-time’ advocate of conservation in Northern Minnesota, Ernest Oberholtzer efforts on behalf of wild places led to the creation of roadless areas and the elimination of logging dams. Ober's vision set the stage for the creation of Voyageurs National Part in 1975.”

–Jim Dougan, Lake States Interpretive Association, 1990

“He left a charming and challenging legacy. Ober was the torch-bearer of the half-century crusade that rescued the Boundary Waters Canoe Area from the looters and persuaded a new generation that the alternative to treating our planet kindly is to perish with it.”

–Ted Hall, “‘Ober,’ Boundary Waters' friend, creator of a magic island” (Minneapolis Star Tribune, September 12, 1983)

“A true Minnesota environmental hero and early Ike. Ernest Oberholtzer.”

–John Henrickson, Izaak Walton League


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