Posted on June 30, 2021

Memorial Removed From Prairie Creek Over Racist, Eugenics Beliefs of Save the Redwoods League Founder

Isabella Vanderheiden, Times-Standard, June 28, 2021

In keeping with a nationwide effort to remove monuments that have long honored racist figures, California State Parks officials recently removed a 1948 memorial honoring Madison Grant in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. The large stone monument was removed during a small ceremony June 15 in an effort to create a more inclusive and equitable park system.

While Grant was hailed as one of the leading conservationists of his day as one of three founders of Save the Redwoods League, he was also known for promoting racist, anti-Asian, eugenicist and anti-miscegenation laws.

“Grant wrote a book called ‘The Passing of the Great Race’ that was, at its time, seen as the leading authority on trying to use science to prove that certain people were superior. The book ended up being picked up by Adolf Hitler, who called it his Bible,” said Marnin Robbins, spokesperson for California State Parks. “The crazy thing is that he was also very much responsible for helping to protect many of the remaining old-growth redwoods that we have left today.”

Over the last several years, Robbins said California State Parks and Save the Redwoods League have discussed how to address problematic historic memorials and outdated interpretive exhibits related to the founders of the Save the Redwoods League found in several state parks in Northern California.

In 2020, California State Parks received a letter signed by more than 200 academics calling for the removal of the Grant memorial. {snip}


North Coast Redwoods District’s superintendent Victor Bjelajac acknowledged Grant’s conservation efforts but said the district “fully reject(s) his racist ideology and (is) committed to creating a park system for all people, regardless of race, creed or ethnicity.”

“Grant used his privilege to advocate for and influence the development of discriminatory laws impacting millions of people across the world,” Bjelajac said in a prepared statement. {snip}

Save the Redwoods League publicly acknowledged and disavowed the racist beliefs of the organization’s three founders — Grant, John C. Merriam and Henry Fairfield Osborn — in September 2020.


A new interpretive sign welcoming to people of all backgrounds, races and ethnicities will be installed in place of Grant’s former memorial later this summer.