Don’t ever forget Cecil Garland
High Country News
In the Media
By Gabriel Furshong
High Country News, Writers on the Range
Cecil Garland is not well known beyond the Big Blackfoot River of western Montana. But in this scenic valley, he is remembered as the hardware store owner and WWII veteran who led a 10-year fight to designate the 240,000-acre Scapegoat Wilderness.
He is a legend among conservationists, largely because the Scapegoat was the first wilderness ever created in the United States, not because of a federal recommendation, but because the people who loved the place insisted on protecting it.
From 1969 to 1973, Garland served as vice president and president of the Montana Wilderness Association. However, 40 years ago he moved to a remote ranch in southern Utah and more or less lost touch with the organization. In a way, he’s like a reclusive writer who writes one masterpiece and then vanishes into obscurity. So it was a welcome surprise when Garland’s daughter, Becky, spread the word that Cecil would be in town for his grandson’s wedding in July, and that he was willing to talk to a few of us about the old days.