Environmentalists celebrate the legacy of the late Edward Abbey

By. R. Ammon Ayres

SALT LAKE CITY- The author of popular radical environmental novels was remembered thanks to the generous donations Calif. attorney Eric Hvolboll.

Last Sunday afternoon in the University of Utah’s Marriot Library, former appraiser for the popular television program “Antiques Roadshow” and book collector Ken Sanders hosted a presentation for the late author Edward Abbey. This celebration preceded the opening of an exhibit of a historical collection of Abbey’s autographed books, contracts, movie posters, essays and just about everything with Abbey’s name on it. The many supporters that showed, both old and young, came to remember the author and sustain his environmental ideals.

“Ed Abbey still lives… Abbey is selling books better than ever now that he’s dead,” said Sanders. Sanders said Abbey’s books are an important part of history, the radical words in his novels drive his ongoing growing fandom towards going green and advocating the environment to preserve the earth and its beauty.

“I believe Ed Abbey’s environmental ideals are relevant more than ever today,” said a friend of Sanders and attendant John Dalton.

“The Wilderness needs no defense, only defenders,” said Sanders quoting Abbey. Sanders quoted Abbey’s humorous yet serious view on the environment, allowing the late Abbey to speak for himself and resonate his beliefs.

Abbey believed in enjoying his problems, but also said, “I enjoy my enemies problems too,” said Sanders quoting Abbey. Sanders used this occasion of celebration to remember Abbey and create awareness of the danger the environment is facing.

Sanders proclaimed the recently sentenced Tim DeChristopher as an environmental hero. DeChristopher was found guilty when tried in federal court for bidding on public land that he couldn’t pay for, to protect it from the oil companies.

Dalton had a different point of view on whether DeChristopher was a hero not. “Whether Tim is a hero or not, is debatable. Being a lawyer, I believe there are better ways to protect the environment, especially through the legal system,” said Dalton.

“What he had to say in both his fiction, and essays resonate… people still see his beliefs as relevant, which is key,” said Associate Dean of Special Collections Greg Thompson when asked why Abbey was an important figure to be remembered.

Thompson was hopeful that the ultimate outcome of the presentation would “help the public understand the importance of research libraries, and collecting pieces to further environmental movements and bring attention to Ed’s books.”

Hvolboll’s donation to the University of Utah was well received by those who came to the program. Thompson believed that Abbey’s collection would bring many who have yet to read one of Abbey’s classic novels to an understanding of why the environment is such an important asset, and why extraordinary measures must be taken to preserve the earth. The actions to take care of the environment must be drastic to make the world a better place for tomorrow, according to Sanders.

“I have yet to read any of Ed’s books, but I’m excited to see what all the hype is about,” said attendant Rosa, (who wishes to have her full name withheld).

“I’m most interested in discovering how Ed Abbey writes his books,” said Rosa.

Abbey’s legacy and confidence about the environment has made an incredible effect with his ecological devout followers, and Abbey continues to find new fans, which share the same ideals. The Edward Abbey collection will be on display all month.

Marriott Library Hopes to Facilitate Environmental Awareness with Edward Abbey Exhibit

by Erica Hartmann

SALT LAKE CITY- On March 4, 2012 the Gould Auditorium in the Marriott Library was filled with many fans of famous author, Edward Abbey. Abbey supporters gathered anxiously as they waited for the “Edward Abbey Exhibit” to open later that afternoon.

 A lecture and reception was held in Abbey’s behalf prior to the opening of the exhibit. Abbey passes away on March 14, 1989 and was a man who was famous for his environmental efforts. At the lecture, questions were raised about the way Americans live today and whether Abbey would be proud of the current society.

            Ken Sanders, a man who has been in the rare books business for many years, was the speaker for the event “R. Crumb meets the Monkey Wrench Gang: Edward Abbey and the Modern Environmental Movement from Earth First!” held on Sunday. He knew Abbey personally and was very knowledgeable about Abbey’s life.

Abbey spent most of his life in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, where he lived and worked for the state parks. He is best known for his novel “The Monkey Wrench Gang”, which has become a highly inspirational book for environmental groups.

Sanders said, “Abbey was a man that many people related to.” He went on to say, “The writing of Ed Abbey defines a group of people living in the west. We know we belong together.”

It’s been said that he moved people with his passion for the environment. According to a close friend of Abbey, Charles Bowden, “Abbey was angry with post-world commercialism, and he wanted to share that anger to motivate people to change the way they choose to live.”

Sanders shared his ideas with Abbey’s fans at the lecture. He said, “Wilderness needs no defense, just more defenders.” He also made his listeners laugh when he said, “Society is like a stew, if you don’t keep it stirring, you get a lot of scum on top.” Everyone in the audience smiled and nodded their heads.

Most everyone agreed that Abbey would be disappointed with the changes that have occurred since his death in 1989, especially how the government wants to privatize all the public land in Utah. Most believe that if Abbey were alive today, he’d have a lot to say about this issue.

Jonathon, a recent Utah graduate and fan of Abbey said, “It’s up to us to do something about it.” He explained that Americans are only concerned about money and said he believes that more people should live the way Abbey did. “He struggled to make a living, but he was proud of his work.”

Mary, a woman who works for the Marriott Library, has been a fan of Abbey for many years. She agreed that Abbey would be disappointed in the changes that have occurred, but is hopeful for what lies ahead. She expressed, “I think Abbey would be proud of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. It’s something he would have supported.”

Mary also explained, “the new collection is a step in the right direction to make people aware of what Abbey was all about.” She believes that if younger generations become familiar with him, changes can be made to the way Americans live their lives and treat their environment.

The Edward Abbey Exhibit holds over 30 years of collected work by the author and will be held on the 4th floor of the University Library. Everyone is encouraged to visit the exhibit. Getting to know Abbey and his passion for the environment will facilitate change and inspire readers to think twice about how their actions effect the environment.